I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

"Soar 2"

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas!  I always find this in-between week before New Year's contemplative.  It's dark outside and I don't have to work as many days.  There's time for looking back over the year and thinking about what the new year will bring.

Looking over my past year, painting my floor was the most obvious thing I did.  It certainly required the most time, June - October.  The less obvious element of it is that I used all that time to think about relationships.

It wasn't a happy year for me.  My brother-in-law died, which was very shortly after my friend died, and a co-worker's husband.  I was effected by the Paris shooting, which was only one of many shootings in 2015.  There were a lot of contentious meetings and reports at work.

I just wasn't happy, and didn't feel like I was getting the outside support I needed.  I pondered who was good for me and who wasn't when Danny's cancer recurred and almost killed him just when Gary killed himself, and that was followed by 2 more suicides.  I fell off my deck so hard that my body hurt as much as my heart and mind.

So the year started hard, but spending all that time painting the floor made me more flexible in more ways than one.  My general outlook on life improved, and the ladies at work went out of their way to feed me positive thoughts.  I helped avert another suicide, and feel pleased with myself that I set and maintained my boundaries in the process.  The year is ending with 2 new babies in my environment and I feel happiness to be in the afterglow of those families' happiness.

Against all of this, I repeatedly met ghosts from my past this year.  We stood on my floor and shared stories about the Glen.  I saw their positive memories of me reflected in their faces, and I was given a chance to redefine myself to myself.

I drank bourbon in Kentucky, which has turned into a lesser hobby.  So far I've enjoyed cherry-aged and honey bourbons the best.  I got a new neighbor and was assigned an extra hobby of staring out the kitchen window to look for her missing cat while I made a lot of applesauce.  My dog got skunked.  I took a painting retreat to Lake Chautauqua, NY and started illustrating things for a magazine.

Helen and her halo
This is life.  Sometimes we have challenges and grief to deal with.  Sometimes we get to smile at a baby.  This week I helped Helen, our cheerful, colorful, and kind volunteer with her Christmas cookies.  She knows all about life's ups and downs, and usually has an off-color quip and a hearty laugh to get through those peaks and valleys.  She made 17 kinds of cookies this year and gave them to people she appreciates including her doctors, church, friends, family, etc., etc.  Her spirit of gratitude and giving is inspiring (and her cookies are delicious!)

Helen supervising cookie trays

Josie helped package cookies too

Here's to hoping that all of us have a wonderful New Year filled with cookies!

Friday, December 18, 2015


Gentle breezes waft around the Glen, but you need actual wind to fly a kite.  I ran and ran on my short child legs without much to show for it.

We went to see our grandparents every month.  Grandpa would take us to GoodyearHeights Metro Park after lunch.  Women washed dishes while children and men walked to the pond and woods.  

In winter we went sledding.  There’s a little but steep hill close to their house, and a very big hill on the other side of the park.  The little hill has the extra thrill of trees in the wrong places.  The big hill has a bump which sends whole toboggans of adults airborne.  That hill is also great for kites in summer.  Kites soared from a standstill.  They flew so strong, I worried I’d be dragged to the sun and die like Icarus.

One day my siblings ran down the steep little hill to the pond, and Grandpa and I stayed behind.  He really didn’t say much.  Well, to be perfectly honest, he never did, but what he did say was in a soft Tennessee accent that makes me feel safe, loved, and happy.

On that last day at the park I just held his hand and absorbed our alone-time together.  I don’t know how I knew it was our last day, I just did, and I relished it.  He lived a long time after that, he just didn't walk to the park.  He drove us to the big hill to fly kites.

I miss Grandpa.  Happy birthday!  Happy birthday Sue!  And Dad and Tami, and coming up Bill, ML, and Gail... plus my grandnieces and whoever else I might be forgetting.  Oh yeah, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Joyous Solstice too!

Mess Hall
Totally unrelated to birthdays, holidays, and kiting, but everything to do with parks, my friend and I walked in my old Girl Scout camp last weekend.  It has been bought by her city, and now is open to everyone.

Amity House
Boat house
I looked forward to August all year every year when I was a kid.  My sisters and I had a week at Grandma and Grandpa's, and then we had two weeks at Camp Hilaka.  Yay, yay, yay for me!

The old metal bridge is the same as when I was a kid
I was great at camp.  I could start a fire, paddle a canoe, braid a lanyard, and sing campfire songs with the best of them.  I learned early that fearlessly ridding a tent of spiders and mice ensured me camping friends.  Some girls cried when their parents dropped them off at camp.  I wanted to cry when I left.

Outhouse -- a very memorable part of camping!
The camp is pretty dilapidated, and I hope volunteers will get it looking nice again.  I walked the paths and felt my younger self running through the woods while my current self was kind of befuddled about what used to be where and such.  I remembered the handsome boy counselor with a guitar well enough and the very nice girl with a raspberry stain all over her face and over a lot of the rest of her too. 

It's the smells and sounds and projects which I remember best, and it all feels very strange to place all that living into a neglected park.  I'm going to walk there again and bring back more memories and more of that childish enthusiasm back into my being.  Camp Hilaka is like Grandpa -- part of who I am.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


My boss looked at my flower photos on my office wall this week and told me to take a half day to see "Painting the Modern Garden:Monet to Matisse", a special exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  I like flowers, but impressionists?  Eh.  Yeah, I know, a lot of people love them.  It's just one way I'm a unicorn, but hey, paid time for art?  Yeah!  (Okay, I'm salary and work too many hours so it's not like really getting paid, but still.)

I parked far away because I'm too cheap for the parking lot, and a nice looking man who's originally from India, now from Chicago, asked me if the museum is really free.  It is too, but you've got to pay $18 for the impressionist exhibit.  We had a lovely conversation while we hiked to the front entrance where he held the door for me and soon disappeared.

I hiked more miles to get to the line for the exhibit, stood behind crowds of people standing in front of paintings who were glued to their museum-distributed hand-held devices.  I was getting cranky and my knee hurt.  I felt bad for the old people who had to get on and off the endless escalators in the vast emptiness of the newly, and expensively, remodeled museum interior.

More disgruntlement that they
closed access to the pond
and Rodin's "The Thinker"
I have long-held grievances against the museum.  I've considered lifting the feud since I'm the only one who knows it's in place and it only hurts me.  I even considered getting a museum membership.  Nope.  Feud stays in place.  I hate what they've done.

There's still lots of world-class art there, but somebody has been "fixing" eyes in portraits so they look wall-eyed.  I didn't see Edith Barretto Parsons' Turtle Baby, I don't like the organization, it feels like a mall with gift shops everywhere...

It wasn't always like this.  My dad was a cop in the area, and sometimes took me with him to work and let me loose.  He enlisted all the security guards and policemen as my babysitters even though I was blissfully unaware of this until I tested my boundaries one day and a cop showed up out of nowhere to say, "Miss Hensley, I don't think you're allowed over there."  Oops.

I followed the rules after that.  I sat by the pond and teased the giant carp.  I helped archeologists mend broken pottery.  I stared at the Rembrandts and felt my heart pound.  I fell in love with Jacques Louis David's Cupid.

Some parts of the museum were left intact.
This is the style I remember and love.
Sometimes I'm aware my childhood wasn't like other people's.  I lived in the lonely  woods which hid the remnants of an artists' community -- and once in a while I went to the big city without obvious supervision to bask in the glow of the Masters and listen to the Cleveland Orchestra rehearse for an audience of one.  I suppose it's no wonder I became an artist, but I suppose it's all part of why I'm a unicorn too?  An extinct, mythical creature with magical powers.

Somehow, I think we're all unicorns.  We just have to embrace that about ourselves and hope nobody tries to saw off our horn.  Or remodel our home against our will.

BTW, most people seem happy with the special exhibits and the remodeling.  If you come to town you should go to the museum.  I'll sulk quietly and smile at my memories of having the place to myself other than indulgent docents and archeologists.

Friday, December 4, 2015


I wrote this post for "diary" in my first year of blogging, where I told of my plumbing disaster.  The experience was stressful and exhausting when I was living it, but it also became something of a milestone too.

The plumbing disaster forced me to clean house more thoroughly than I'd ever do on my own -- and in getting rid of stuff, I got rid of a bunch of garbage in my mind too.  I had many hours to think while filling up trash bags of my moldy treasures. 

I was in a bad mental place.  I'd been out of work for almost 2 years, and people weren't hiring, especially anyone over 40.  I had too much time to think about my miseries past and present and I bounced between anger and depression.  My friend Geof gave me mental assignments to consider while I sanded floors and such.  We had long conversations about our experiences and how to deal with them.  I started digging myself out of the muck in more ways than one.

A friend of mine is currently going through her own crisis.  Because I've been there, done that, I can hear it when she slides into bad places in her thinking.  I can see where there are choices between moving forward and curling into a ball because I've done my time with anger, depression, and hope.

I learned things from Geof who had gone through these things too.  If my friend learns something from me now, I'll feel like maybe there was some point to my misery, and Geof's miseries.  She'll teach someone else down the road.  It is a healing chain of people who suffer, survive, grow, and help others.

Sometimes I think that the miseries in the world are opportunities.  If we always get what we want, how hard would we work towards our goals?  If we don't know hurt, how can we help someone else when they're hurting?

Another friend was the victim of spousal abuse.  I thought "I'd never allow that!" -- and I didn't, well, not exactly.  Years later, I found myself in a verbally abusive marriage that was ruinous to my entire being.  I started understanding why my friend had stayed after getting hit because abusers cross boundaries slowly over time.  I still wouldn't let someone hit me, but my own marriage taught me empathy for my friend's situation.

Perhaps that empathy is the velcro that will help someone else stick on the planet?  I learned to listen without judging, and sometimes I think the thing a hurting person needs is simply someone who will listen.

I'd like a perfect, peaceful world where nobody hurts and plumbing always works.  But then again, maybe the world is richer and more beautiful with hardship?  I know that's hard to see when there was yet another shooting this week, but it's my hope that something good comes out of the pain.  For everyone who suffers, I wish them peace, healing, wisdom, and maybe most especially, a person who can hold their hand and listen.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Punch: orange juice, lemonade, 7-up, and sherbet.  I know this because we have to make it at work once a year.  Nobody told me I'd have to make punch when I went to college.  There's so many things nobody ever warned me about, and I bet men never have to make punch.  It's still such an unfair world.

Punch: wrap your thumb around your other fingers before punching anyone.  Otherwise you might break your thumb on impact.  I punched a wall once when I was sleeping and broke my hand.  Try to avoid punching walls.

Punch: Pulcinella, a silly, but violent, puppet nicknamed Mr. Punch of Punch and Judy.

Illustration Friday was late giving a word for the week, and I can only wonder why "punch" is the word the week of Thanksgiving?  I assume somebody punched someone in a Black Friday shopping event or maybe somebody doesn't get along with their relatives.

I'm distilling some rather horrible apple wine into something better instead.  I froze the wine, and since alcohol doesn't freeze, I'm letting it drip out of the chunk of ice.  This would all be great, but since I keep drinking the alcohol there isn't much in the glass to prove my efforts.

I also made turkey soup.  I'm adept at cooking, and there's a pleasure in that proficiency -- as long as nobody makes me do it.  I pulled turnips from the garden and feel pleased about that too.  My dog was thrilled to lick the turkey pan and hovered in hope that I'd drop something tasty.

The only way to get good at stuff is to do it, and to do it a lot.  That goes for art or cooking or anything else.  It helps to have an affinity for what you're doing, but you can learn how to do anything you want to do.  Then study and practice, practice, practice.

I wasn't thrilled about cooking when I was a kid.  It was another chore, and I wasn't into any more work.  It wasn't until I was alone in the kitchen and opened all the spices and smelled each of them that I started seeing possibilities.  The aromas were like colors to me and I could paint with them to enjoy dinner more.

Don't worry about not being good at something from the beginning.  I think too many people quit before they really start at things.  Just try.  Laugh at your failures, learn something from the experience, and try again.

The apple wine is the first time I've distilled anything.  I used a wrong shaped container and ended up with a slushy mess on my counter with my first effort since the whole thing just slid out of the tapered jar in a chunk.  Oh well, stuff happens.  Sometimes experimentation is messy.  In this case, it's also tasty -- at least tastier than the wine was.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love and good food!

Congratulations to the Flannerys for their brand new bouncing baby boy! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Pennsylvania was supposed to be a brief stretch of road on my way to Lake Chautauqua in New York, but there was an accident ahead of me.  I was parked on the freeway for hours.  I guess that's one way of giving me quiet time?

They closed the freeway and I had to find my way to the next exit through Erie, PA.  Erie is fond of 4-way stop signs, which is nothing compared to the 6-way stop.  2 of those ways were going about 65 mph from around blind corners too.  I'm not loving cities.

Sue loaned me her house on the lake this week.  (Thanks Sue!)  I just wanted to get away from my life and hit reset.  I took my dog and she just laid down and went to sleep through our traffic problems.  Once we actually got to the lake she was thrilled with our escape.  I was less thrilled to walk the dog in the arctic wind.  Winter is coming!  Brrr.

I suppose I'm not the first artist to go to upstate NY for an artist's retreat.  I packed a LOT of art supplies because you never know exactly what you're going to need, and I still forgot a ruler.  I made my own out of a piece of cardboard.  And then I painted.  And painted.  It felt great.  Hours of freeway fumes and city traffic fell away while I listened to the sloshing waves.  Late at night I read a book with my puppy curled up at my feet.

I wandered around Sue's house thinking "how can she do projects?!" because there's a lot of seating and ambiance, but not a whole lot in the way of work stations.  My house is full of work stations and very little ambiance.  It reminds me of a guy my mom told me about whose entire furniture consisted of one folding chair because he didn't want company.  Okay, I'm not as bad as that, but I could definitely do better?

I recovered the seats of my dining room chairs with some pretty tapestry fabric I'd gotten from a garage sale at some point.  One of the seats was in pretty bad shape, so I took it apart again, reconfigured the seat, and covered it again.  It wasn't until all the chairs were back in place that I really considered whether or not the chairs go with their surroundings.

They look okay, but I don't know if they look intentional, and that's the way of it throughout my house.  Somebody called me "eclectic".  Yeah, that's one way of putting it.  I think I'd say I have diverse tastes and dump them all into a small house without a plan -- but I'm handy enough to fix a chair.

When I was little, my grandpa fixed my chair.  It had seen generations of little butts on it before me, and Grandpa decided the best way to prevent future repair was to mend the seat with industrial strength white clothes line which he expertly wove around the rungs.  I'm sure that chair will never need reseated unless someone else has better taste and less utility.  I think I'll blame Grandpa for my frugality, practicality, and deficits in interior decorating genes.

Sue's lake house is tastefully decorated in colors that complement each other, with furniture that looks intentional.  I'm pretty sure that's never going to happen in my living space.  I'm not even sure that I want that, but I enjoyed painting at her house and it was great to get away.  Here are a couple of pictures I took before the last of the fall leaves fell.
Roots of a downed tree in the woods
Bro standing by a giant oak tree

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Mom posted a test on facebook about instinctual preferences.  I was procrastinating, so I took the 10 question quiz and found out that I transcend gender and society.  Woo hoo!

I told Bro it was an easy test.  I mean really, which is cuter, kitty or puppy?  Obviously a dog in any form always wins.  Bro said he'd pick kitties.  He then made me watch kitty flicks.  Okay, I laughed.  He likes anything on youtube by zefrank.  He smiled when I told him some of you said nice things about his elephant drawing, so he contributed more drawings for this post. 

I'm feeling much happier this week because the magazine editor who sent me the icky article about women said she respected my objections and sent me a sensitive and funny story from a dad with an autistic son.  Yay!  She approved my rough layout and I'm excited and happy again.  This way beats trying to trick or beg myself into wanting to do the other article.

I was very aware of my moods when I thought of the magazine project and work this week.  My job pays bills and adds lines to my face.  I do my best, but I sit through meetings where people disagree and leave me frustrated.  I spend a lot more time with reports and numbers than I do with creative projects, and for the creative parts, I often give art direction to people who just don't care about doing it as well as I would.

Having a real job gives me freedom to seek work for pleasure instead of the paycheck.  I felt upset when I felt my pleasure getting snatched away because of the article's content.  I was elated when I got the better, alternate article.  Hmm... are my moods telling me something about what my heart wants me to do?

Bro had to explain to me
how a dead rat = love
I felt joy at the Detroit Art Museum last year when I saw a painting by Raphael.  Another time, I was invited to the restoration area of the Cleveland Art Museum.  A painting was laying on a table, ready for repair, and my heart pounded even before I realized it was a Rembrandt.  My mouth fell open and I was literally panting.  I've never done that with a budget report.  My heart actually ached at the damage to the painting and the previous, flawed "restoration".  Seeing the painting out of its frame made me feel even closer to Rembrandt.  This is how he saw it centuries ago and I felt privileged at the intimacy.

Old Masters make my heart happy, so I need to spend more time with them.  I think I'll go to the art museum soon and soak up inspiration.

Mostly, I'm thinking everyone needs to do what makes them happiest.  Maybe you combine work and pleasure.  If not, hopefully you find time to do what makes you happiest when you're not working.  When we feel joy in what we're doing, we know we're doing the right things.

Maybe you prefer cats over dogs, Klimt over Rembrandt, or accounting over art.  I won't judge even if I find these things inexplicable, but something rings your bell.  Find it.  Live your life in joy.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Bro2 asked about making a blog, but after he thought about it, he decided he didn't want one.  He just likes making occasional napkin drawings for this blog, though this drawing was actually done on a fresh piece of paper.  This all works out great this week because he's far more charming and whimsical than me.  Besides that, I'm achy from shifting weather patterns and crabby about daylight savings time.

Or, maybe I'm really crabby because I just rejected work for a full-page, full-color magazine illustration?  It would've been great exposure in their 50th anniversary special edition, but the story accompanying the illustration is a feminist's nightmare.  All that great exposure would be a mess if I was connected to that article.  Sigh.  Sometimes principles really get in the way of my happiness.

The last time I rejected work on principle was for GI Joe.  I don't think we should turn our children into little soldiers.  Men have laughed at me when I've told them about this.  They don't feel scarred by their play.  One man still resents only having a knock off named Jim.  Who am I to stand between men and their dolls?  My co-worker Joe enthusiastically took on the project and had GI Joe shoot me from around corners.

Rejecting the GI Joe project got me punished with Strawberry Shortcake for a while.  I haaaated her.  I couldn't see pink without seeing red for a long time, but at least Strawberry Shortcake wasn't promoting war.  Something about her made me want donuts, so thankfully I wasn't punished too long or I really would've ended up at 400 lbs.  I got moved on to sewer lids and road maintenance manuals after that.

Who says being an artist is glamorous?  I've pretty much done the jobs I've gotten, and felt happy to get paid, even when the pay was crappy.  Maybe the magazine will give me another story to illustrate?  Or not?  Or punish me with a Strawberry Shortcake-ish alternative?  Hey, I've got a day job.  I don't have to take anything that I don't want to do at this point.  That's freedom. 

Or as Bro says, "Life is easy if your aren't an elephant".  Just so you know, he wrote that while laughing at my feminist conundrum and agreeing that I absolutely couldn't do it.  I sent the article to a friend for her opinion and she agreed -- with blue language to emphasize the point.

I wrote the editor and briefly told her why I couldn't do it, apologized, and asked if there was another story to illustrate.  We'll see how that goes.  Whatever the outcome, I'm going to see it as the right outcome.  It's part of my grand plan to use my talents in ways that I want to use them, and in ways that bring me the most happiness in the process.

Like Maria said in The Sound of Music, "Whenever God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window".  There are always more opportunities if we look for them.  If this project doesn't work out, I can find another.  One with fuzzy bunnies or something.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


There's nothing better than receiving a bent dandelion from a little kid.  My brothers used to give me flowers.  They toddled around the yard and yanked grass and weeds together for my little vases.  I proudly displayed these bouquets of love.

I'm going to a baby shower today.  It's a second try for the parents after a heartbreaking miscarriage, so this baby is anticipated even more than most first-time parents anticipate, hope, and fear.  This baby is one of 2 that will float in the fringes of my life in December.  Both of these babies will be adored by everyone in their worlds.  All of the parents are healthy, mature, nurturing, competent, smart, attractive... everything we want for children.  I see bent dandelions in their futures, and I feel happy for their happiness.

And I'll admit, a little loss that I'm not getting flowers anymore.  Dad died when I was a teenager and Mom worked 2nd shift.  My sisters were old enough to be mostly out of the house, and somebody had to care for the babies.

At 16, I did what I had to do, but I didn't really know what that was supposed to be.  I ate more teething pretzels than they did because I liked them.  A little spoonful of apricot for you, then you, (they're twins) then a big spoon for me because I liked that too.  They could have all the peas or chicken and rice.

I tore my hair with desperation when they wouldn't stop crying, and put them in warm laundry on top of the dryer until they finally, finally went to sleep.  It's a wonder they didn't smother in the laundry.  When my sisters breezed through to criticize about diaper rash, I suggested they could change some diapers too.  (There may have been some extreme swearing and objects thrown when they laughed and went out the door.)

I couldn't take a bath alone because the kids would run around and get in trouble so we all took baths together.  I had to go to the bathroom?  We all go.  They were potty trained really young.  Poop in the water!  Let's all gather round and congratulate each other!  Yay!  No more diaper rash!

I canned red cabbage this week and thought about how I tried to get pack those kids with vitamins.  I added carrots, apples, and raisins to the cabbage sweeten it up and they loved it.  We'd go to the grocery store and maybe I was the only one who got requests for parsnips and broccoli?

I lost Bro3 at the mall.  I lost him at the beach.  He was always running in the wrong direction.  If I chased him, Bro4 went in another direction.  They laughed to see me running unless I blew up.  Teenagers aren't really known for having it all together in the first place, and losing children is panic for anybody.

Yesterday, Bro4 met me at the lumberyard with his buddy.  We got supplies to fix my shed.  It's not the same as a bent flower, but maybe I did some things right along the way?  He's tall and strong, so I'm thinking that eating his apricots and pretzels didn't stunt his growth.  I'll call it a success and hope someday he fathers a child who picks dandelions.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


I need a new adventure.  I'm not sure what this is going to be yet, but it has to be more exciting than making applesauce or watching Pete and Dave fixing my shed this week.

Last night I dreamt about "adventure" and remembered walking in a South Carolina plantation garden.  I am delicate in the sun, so I had on a big, floppy hat and a long, loose skirt while everyone else was dressed in Ugly American summer wear.  That's too-tight tank tops with lewd slogans and too-tight shorts.

There was a guy in a holey shirt that had faded a light salmon.  I suppose the shirt started out red?  I couldn't look away from the curly blonde fur on his shoulders while he couldn't bother to check his unruly kids.  His wife's chest oozed around all the edges.  I must've looked like another flower in the garden by comparison.

A British man pulled up in a super cute red convertible.  He was dressed impeccably, as he had a business meeting in the Big House.  Nothing more than light conversation happened with him, but I guess I've always wondered "what if".  He was clearly interested, and I was interested too, but I regretfully watched him walk away.  I was probably being responsible about something.  Sometimes I hate that about myself.

We all face moments of opportunities gained or lost.  Often those moments are as ephemeral as catching a falling leaf in the breeze.  I think most of the time we don't recognize the chance or the choice, but sometimes we do.  Not taking that chance in the moment is the choice of a different future.  Too often, the reason we don't take a risk is because of misguided inhibitions and fear.

I listened to a radio program, Reclaiming Conversation: ThePower of Talk in the Digital Age.  Psychologist author, Sherry Turkle, has researched what's happening with people who are glued to their devices.  People text instead of talking face to face, and have lost the ability to empathize.  They have so many fears, they avoid personal interactions.  How many opportunities are lost because they're hiding behind their phones?

I'm  upset that people don't know how to sit down and have a cup of tea with a friend for an afternoon or how to actually get together meaningfully in a romantic relationship.  I share lunch with the ladies in my office every day, and we talk about stuff.  We like each other, suffer each other's quirks, and support each other.  This stuff matters, and people need to put down their phones and notice that it matters.

I'm glad I drove to SC to walk in a plantation garden.  I regret not asking that man to join me for lunch.  I'm glad I'm a responsible worker.  I regret giving too much of my life to jobs.  All of these little choices end up being the sum of our lives.

I'm trying to think of ideas for my next adventure -- to go somewhere, do something new, expand my life in some way.  Maybe I'll actually fill out the paperwork for a passport?  Take a class or say "hi" to the next guy who looks at me?  Do you have any suggestions?

I'm usually terrible at remembering to show works in progress (WIP).  I thought I'd try to remember to show you this piece as I go along.  This is on a 3' x 12" canvas that my buddy Korki gave me.  Thanks!

Sunday, October 18, 2015


I have an excellent memory for certain things.  I can describe Grandma's kitchen in vivid detail.  The more I mentally step into that kitchen, the more things I'll remember, like the ceramic Donald Duck planter on the scalloped corner shelf filled with spare change.  3 kinds of Chex cereal in the white cabinet.  The shamrock and the jade tree on the window sill.  The smell of good food.  Grandpa chuckling.

Sorting apples
Since I have good recall, it's easy for me to believe I'm in control of my subconscious.  I have issues, (who doesn't?) but I know where they come from and try to deal with them accordingly.

I worked at an ice cream store when I was a teenager.  One evening I suddenly faced a boy whom I hadn't seen for a while.  He went white and stammered an apology.  "Yeah, okay.  What kind of ice cream do you want?"  I was busy and needed to keep up with orders.  I didn't know what he was apologizing for, but some part of me was sizzling.  That felt uncomfortable, so I stuffed the feelings and doubt deep inside.

Bad apple
More time went by, and I watched a tv show about teenaged violence.  I suddenly understood that apology so easily, it was like I'd never repressed getting attacked by my guy "friends" because I'd turned one of them down.  Andrew hadn't helped them, but he hadn't helped me either.  He just watched me knock a guy out and stun another while the rest piled on me until another friend came roaring to my rescue.

I wonder when there's news stories about repressed memories.  Clearly, it happens.  I lived it.  Yet, too often it seems like people are making things up, or following the misguided directions of a therapist.  I began to doubt my reclamation of this memory, so I asked witnesses if it really happened.  It did.  Drat.  I wished it was a bad dream.

But, if we know what we've experienced, we can work on it.  Refusing to think of something doesn't make it go away.  It affects our lives.  Not talking about something because it makes other people uncomfortable is trading their temporary comfort for a more permanent disability within ourselves.  Reclaiming my memory and giving myself permission to talk about it gives me power over my own life and decisions.  In a backwards way, I live more consciously now because I stuffed those memories then.

I make better friends now, and I value them.  John (and Mom) gave me organic apples from their trees.  Thanks!  I've been happily canning applesauce and gave some of it to other friends.  My brother asked for apple cupcakes, big cupcakes, like muffins at the coffee shop with crystallized sugar on top.  I threw in a couple of past prime bananas too.  I'd show you a picture, but they were ALL gone in one night.  I seriously don't know how he managed to digest that many apples without severe stomach distress.  The ladies at work suggested they'd like apple cake too.

Itsy bitsy 4 oz. single serve canning jars
I don't know if we have to experience the bad in life to appreciate the good, but I remind myself the good people in our lives make life sweet -- and the applesauce sweeter too.

This is why I have to get apples from others.
Sorry for the photo quality, it was taken through my kitchen window
and the window screen.  This is just 2 of a large flock of the varmints.
The snowman has a stuffed head.  This is another tower of cookies I made for Mrs. Fields.

"An unexamined life is not worth living." ~ Socrates