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, April 22, 2017

"Delicious"

An Italian woman I know described a family gathering where her kids served fried chicken, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob... I can't remember the menu, but you know, food.  My friend was rather put out about it.  "Who wants to eat that kind of stuff?!"  I don't know, everybody?  She muttered to herself about how the guests ate it all.  There weren't even leftovers, which really ticked her off.  Damned kids and grandkids have no appreciation for her lifetime of cooking.

This woman made lasagna for my last birthday because she knows I like it.  It was the best lasagna I've ever had.  It brought a tear to my eye.  I was tempted to call her kids up and call them ungrateful too.  This is a woman that bakes bread every week, makes pasta from scratch, and cans gallons of tomato sauce every year.  She makes the most delicious rice balls, and the very idea of rice balls was perplexing to me before I had one of hers.  I also later found out that everybody else's rice ball are pale, globby imitations of spectacular.

I took a day drive out to Middlefield, Ohio with my brother this week.  I guess it's only about 25 miles away, but it feels far.  Bro wanted to go to an archery store, and I thought it was downright ridiculous to drive so far for a store, but it was a nice day for a drive down country roads.  You can go pretty fast down those roads too, except when you get stuck behind an Amish buggy.

I examined the taxidermied dead animals and the murderous looking crossbow points while the nice boy at the store fiddled something onto Bro's bow.  To be honest, I hadn't really thought about the archery business being about killing animals.  I thought it was target practice and a little exercise.  That's all I ever did when I was a kid, though some of the older boys would shoot dry reeds at me, and that kind of smarted when they got me.  Older boys are nasty you know -- but the boy at the store was really nice, and Bro and I agreed that everybody is nice in the country.

We stopped at the cheese factory and I got a lump of Swiss cheese and a loop of trail bologna.  Mmmm... I wanted to find a restaurant out there for dinner, but Amish people apparently go home at 5:00.  I like Amish food.  It's just regular stuff that my Italian friend doesn't consider fit for her offspring, but sometimes I really miss the days when all American restaurants had some variation of meat, potatoes and gravy, vegetables.  Not like an Applebee's variation of the theme that's too amplified, I just want a fat grandma's basic cooking.  With pie.

When I was little, my family used to travel down different country roads to visit my great grandpa.  We always went to an Amish restaurant on these trips, and I suppose Amish food has become enmeshed in my mind with warm, loving memories.  I've been on a life-long search to find apple dumplings the way they used to be, but you never know, maybe the memory is better than what's possible to create in reality?

Bro and I wandered our way back through all the country roads and ended up eating at Aladdin's, which is Lebanese, and totally delicious in its own way.  The blueberry "Concrete Mixer" was a delicious ice cream dessert from a different road trip.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

"Fable"

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) was clearly the greatest poet of the 20th century, and he shaped more minds than anyone else ever.  Don't argue.  It's true.  You know it.

I recently read a book about Eva Braun, Hitler's girlfriend which talked quite a bit about German fairy tales.  The author's idea was that the viciousness of German children's stories had a part in the attitudes of the German people during WWI and WWII.

I don't know about that.  I wasn't there, and I'm not German.  What I do know is that my father (who had some German ancestors, so I guess I'm sort of German?) was thrilled when he came into possession of an archival-quality copy of Grimm's fairy tales.  He settled us kids around and read us Cinderella.  Dad was a great story teller.  He pitched his voice for drama, used funny voices, and everything.

I went to bed that night and screamed every time I fell asleep.  I had visions of the evil step sisters bleeding and mutilated, because in the original story, one sister cut off her toes to get her foot into the glass slipper, and one cut off her heel.  Even though my young self had a problem imagining how to cut off a heel, I understood cut off toes easily enough.  Screams rang through the night.  Screams kept my family awake for two weeks.  Apparently, my German ancestry is too diluted for me to handle the brothers Grimm -- though sufficient for a book burning.  After two weeks of night terrors, Dad reluctantly built a fire in the back yard and let me toss the horrible book into the flames.  My nightmares stopped.

I was given a Dr. Seuss album, a record -- you know, that object with magically recorded sounds in the dark ages before CDs, DVDs, and youtube.  I sat on the floor, with my eyes wide open and cheeks pink with the thrill of story time.  I also owned a Yertle the Turtle book which I read in sync with the magical voice coming out of the spinning machine.  Clearly, Dr. Seuss understood how to talk to children better than the Grimms.

I've pondered the Eva Braun author's theory about German fairy tales stressing obedience at the threat of dire punishments.  She might be right that stories and attitudes made for a militant society, but I'm glad I grew up in a time of Dr. Seuss and Yertle the Turtle.

The story in brief, is that Yertle the Turtle was the king of all the turtles.  He wanted to see farther than his pond, so he made the other turtles stack themselves up and he climbed on top for a better view.  This was pretty punishing for Mack on the bottom of the pile, who politely complained.  Mack burped and the pile toppled...

"And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud.  That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course... all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be."

Did you know Dr. Seuss wrote this about Hitler?  I didn't either.  Seems like he could've written for some of the people alive today.  Maybe we should do a fundraiser and send copies of the book to some of these people?

Oh, right.  We have youtube now.  Watch it here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

"Illusion"

Have you ever walked past a mirror, without realizing it was a mirror?  Then, you notice that person looks familiar.  Oh wait!  That's actually me!  What did you think in the moment before all of your pre-programmed self-perceptions kicked in?  Did you think the unknown person was ordinary, attractive, or what?  Odds are, you probably didn't think that hideous person shouldn't be allowed out in public and will never be loved.

I had a conversation with a guy friend this week about our self-perceptions.  Both of us had some issues when we were kids, and there were some spiteful people who pointed out our physical imperfections.  When you get told that often enough, it becomes part of who you are, and it gets difficult to see who is really looking back at you in the mirror.

There was a time when I was a teenager when I studied myself in the mirror with a fashion magazine at hand.  I examined my features and I thought they were reasonably similar to the girls in the magazine.  I couldn't see why I was uglier than they were -- but the prevailing consensus seemed to be that I was ugly, and since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I must be ugly.  I just accepted it with a heavy sigh.

Ah, if only we could go back and talk to our younger selves, right?  The biggest sin of bullies is that they can convince us to bully ourselves long after their cruel remarks.  I'll accept that there was a time in my life when I was too tall and gangly, I needed braces, and the prepubescent awkwardness of growing wasn't particularly kind to me, but at the time I was looking in the mirror all of that had mostly settled into place.  I wish I could tell that teenager she was pretty even if she didn't know it, and nobody really cared about that zit on her chin.

I think many of us, if not all of us, still look in the mirror with the same skewed self-perceptions that I had back then.

I dreamed a memory of my grandmother this morning.  I was my usual unkempt, wild self with a mop of tangled hair in my face.  She stroked my hair back and cooed to me before getting a scrap of fat, pink yarn to tie my hair back with a pretty bow on top.  She said I had a pretty face and it was a shame to cover my eyes with hair.  I felt pleased that Grandma thought I was pretty, and she showed me that it was so in the mirror.  I snuggled into her warm softness for a while before resuming my romping play, but I kept that bit of yarn for a long time afterwards.  It was a little bit of love I could keep in a box.

I more recently worked with women who have that Grandma quality of saying the positive.  They tell other women that they're pretty and compliment someone's new shirt.  Their kindness is remarkable in that encouraging, complimentary remarks are so seldom heard in the world.  I followed their example and told my guy friend he's handsome, and he is.  He just needs to remember to see beyond the illusion in the mirror.  We all need to see our own beauty, not just in what we look like, but in every way our individuality is beautiful.

Friday, March 31, 2017

"Hot"

I'm experiencing a dreary, rainy day and wishing for some sun.  I noticed this layout when I recently backed up some old files.  Did you know files stored on CDs and DVDs may fail over time?  Files on flash drives can fail too if you don't plug them in once in a while.  Also, store CDs and DVDs flat, not on their edges.

This layout wasn't bought, if you can believe it.  I thought it was better than the chocolate spoons at any rate.  They didn't buy my alternate idea either.  Sometimes I can dust off a layout and sell it to someone else, but I've never found a home for these layouts.

A lot of times there's no way of knowing why something doesn't sell.  Maybe the box cost more to produce than the customer wanted to pay?  Salespeople often don't express the customer's needs as well as the designer needs to understand them.  Maybe the customer didn't like the design or colors.  I liked this art, but it might've been because I was sick of doing things with dreary colors and labored illustrations.  Who knows?

You've got to be thick-skinned when you do art for a living.  Most of your work won't sell, and if you want to survive, you've just got to accept that.

When I started out, I didn't accept this truth.  People insisted on wanting the "wrong" layouts.  They didn't understand the effort I'd put into things or how proud I was of certain designs.  They weren't taking my feelings into consideration at all (!), and they could be nasty about it too.  I suppose I added to that dynamic when I got hot about it and tried to argue for the "right" designs.

"Don't discount the value of [your client's] expertise.  When he says something you don't agree with, ask him what he means.  Assume he's got a reason for saying it, and that you could learn something by listening to that reason." ~ boss to Bob Anderson after he strongly disagreed with a client's course of action.

I cut that quote out of a magazine years ago, and it's been hanging on my wall ever since.  I got in a lot fewer disagreements with customers after I accepted this wisdom.  When my sun design wasn't purchased, I shrugged my shoulders.  I was new to my job and didn't understand the full psychology of chocolate spoons.  Okay, I still don't understand the spoons.  Just give me a chunk of chocolate.  Chocolate makes meetings go better anyway.

There was another client about this time who wanted packaging in dull varieties of gingham.  (Yawn.)  I kept trying to get them to accept something more interesting, but they stuck with gingham.  When I went into one of their stores, it all made sense.  I quit wasting my time trying to elevate their tastes.  It became easy money, and that's always good.  I saved my energy for other clients.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned is don't show a "wrong" layout at all.  If you don't want the customer to choose it, do another layout.  If you don't have time, just show the one you want them to pick.  One good layout is better than a binder full of crap.

Even better, one good check is worth a little creative idealism :)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

"Umbrella"

A friend of mine told me about moving to the U.S.  He left his young family in the old country while he worked to establish his career and make it possible to bring them here.  His wife complained he wasn't working hard enough or fast enough, and she didn't think he sent enough money home for the family's comforts.  My friend had made so many sacrifices, he didn't even spare the money for himself for an umbrella.  He got soaked in a downpour when he was walking in a city, and had a moment of anger about his nagging wife's ingratitude, his loneliness, and the misery of how hard life can be.

I can live his moment so vividly in my mind.  It was his experience, but I think about it sometimes.  Ever since he told me about it, umbrellas have become a symbol to me.  I'm not poor if I have one.  I'm rich because I now have three.  I won't get wet, and I don't have an ungrateful, nagging spouse.  Life is good.

We choose whether or not to be happy, no matter what the weather is doing.  Lately, I've been aware of how my thoughts effect my creativity.  Am I drowning in a downpour, or sitting on a sunny beach under an umbrella's shade?

It's so easy to lose the momentum of our dreams.  We can confide our hopes to someone who blows holes through them.  Maybe they're just nasty, but often, the people who are destructive to our inspiration think they have our best interests in mind.  They want us to be practical and safe.  "Safe" never painted a masterpiece, created a vaccine, or changed the world.

You have to step out of your comfort zone to try something new.  You have to be willing to stumble and fail when you try new things.  You should even expect to stumble and experience set backs.  If it was entirely easy, and anyone could do it, would it matter?

Motivation dies when we think too much of the past, or too much about the future.  Past failures can make us believe our new efforts will fail too.  Thinking about the future can make us fear the unknown.  I think everyone can relate to fears of failure, but what about our fears of success?  What if you write the perfect book, get a publisher, and have to do public speaking on a book tour?  Or, are you so enraptured by your vision of the future that you don't sit down and do the things that make that future possible?

Most creative people have experienced the melting of time when you are so absorbed in what you're doing that hours disappear.  For those of us who have experienced this, it's a ecstatic state we're always seeking and often disappointed in finding.  We might try too hard, or avoid trying because we don't want to feel that disappointment.  Do it anyway.

Do it in your own voice, in your own way.  That's the gift that creative people give to the rest of the world, because nobody else can do what you can do.

It's something I've been telling myself a lot lately, and have been in a pretty blissed out state about it.  I wrote 10,000 words this week.  Yay!!!  There may come a time when I feel like I'm standing in a downpour without an umbrella, but why ruin today with a prospect that's only a possibility?  I'm choosing to see life as a sunny day on the beach for now :)

Friday, March 17, 2017

"Snail"

I enjoyed some spectacular spring-like days in February before getting socked with more snow and cold in March.  I used those unusually lovely days taking out my frustrations on my yard, whacking on a slowly rotting tree.  I stirred up a lot of angry ants and a bunch of mildly inconvenienced armadillos.

"We don't have armadillos in Ohio!" my friend said.  Well, yeah we do.  What would you call them?  Um, maybe potato bugs?  Pill bugs?

I looked up potato bug images and found some ugly, icky things.  Quite unlike the cute little armadillos.  Further research informs me my armadillos are actually woodlice, which doesn't sound cute either.  My friend pointed out what I already knew, if I had armadillos, I had rotting wood.  Since they're living in a slowly disintegrating tree in the back 40, I don't really care.

And yeah, my friend the eternal ray of sunshine pointed out that when the tree is gone, the armadillos are going to move somewhere, most likely my garage.  That's probably an astute, practical observation, but I'll deal with that at some unspecified time in the future.

I know I'm not the only person with affection for armadillos (woodlice, not the mammals that can give you leprosy).  Lots of little children have cupped the gentle little bugs in their hands and pretended to gobble the pill bugs.  They curl up into little balls, and neatly tuck in their legs so they're not creepy on ticklish hands.  Well, sometimes their little legs flutter like a feather, but that's just cute.

I also find tiny snail shells in my garden, but I have never found a living snail.  I find this very mysterious.  I have plenty of slugs though.  I think slugs and snails must be related, but the snails seem far more considerate about enclosing their slime in their own self-contained packaging.

I gently moved some worms out of my way and think I must not have changed very much since I was an intent child examining the local fauna in my environment?  My dad was good at encouraging my interests.  We had a lot of field guides to study, and sometimes he took my study subjects away for bait.

I'm just rambling with pleasant memories and associations.  The book I've been working on has a much different tone, and maybe I just need to contemplate quiet, childish play?  I was going to write a novel, but my non-fiction idea insists on coming into existence.

I looked up how many pages I have to type to create a book, but the advice is not to count pages, count words.  That's easy to do in a Word document under "tools".  Average books have 55,000 to 175,000 words, with the average about 80,000 words.  So far I'm over 21,000.  Woo hoo!  1/4 of the way there!  Okay, not all of these words are the best words, so it's going to take a lot more work, but I'm humming and happy about the process.

I've actually been pleased the weather turned back to winter.  It keeps me inside and typing.  I'm worried my budding pear trees are in trouble, but we all need to sacrifice a little in creating.  If I lose them, I guess the armadillos and tree snails will have something to eat instead of my garage?

Friday, March 10, 2017

"Punk"

A friend of mine dated a band promoter when we were in college.  He was a nice guy, and I enjoyed hanging out with him on my porch, drinking and talking.  Pleasant as this was, he would be completely forgettable in her long string of boyfriends if he hadn't asked us to go to Chicago for a concert.  We could get a ride with the band on their bus.

"Thanks, but that's a long drive, and I have a lot of homework."

Responsible words I'll regret the rest of my life.  The next time we were drinking on my porch, the radio drifting through the open window, my friend's bf exclaimed, "That's the band!  That's who I took to Chicago!"  The Talking Heads.  I could've taken a bus trip with the Talking Heads.  NOoooooo!!!  Some head pounding and aauurrgh!!!

Well, let's chalk it up to a life lesson.  When someone invites you to do novel things, go.  As sung in "Once in aLifetime" by The Talking Heads...

And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say yourself,
"My God! What have I done?"

Wikipedia says this band was post-punk, but close enough for "punk".  I've been happily chair dancing to their music while putting this bus together.  I try to avoid swimming in regrets.

I called another friend last night to bubble about my recent productivity in writing.  I tamped down my self-congratulations when I learned he just missed passing a state exam he needs for a mid-life career change.  It's not the first time he just missed passing it.  The last time, he bumped his head and got a concussion before the test and was only 2 points shy of his certificate.  This time, on the way to the test he got flagged down by a couple of young people who had just been robbed at knifepoint.  He called 911 and had to fill out a police report, making him worry he'd miss the test altogether.

"Are you sure you really want this career ?  It seems like there are unusual obstacles cropping up whenever you try to take the test."

He talked a lot about getting older, it's a safer career, wanting a 401k plan.

"Yeah, but are you psyched about doing it?"

He talked more about sensible choices, but in the end, well, he doesn't like some critical aspects of this career choice.  He just has so much time and money already invested in this career change, doesn't he have to carry through?  No.  Not really.  He's reassessing.

I'm reassessing too.  I started writing a book that wasn't going anywhere.  I kept trying to force myself to work on it.  I finally gave up and starting writing one of my alternate book ideas.  Now I've been having a hard time leaving the computer long enough for lunch.  When we're doing what the heart loves, ideas flow, and time stops -- whether the heart loves sensible choices or not.  I'm hoping the universe will eventually reward me with a book deal for following my heart's desires.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Scoop"

A long time ago, when I was still naive about many aspects of advertising, I walked down a hall at a new job and saw a giant pile of ice cream.  Scoops of every flavor of the rainbow looked especially luscious under the photographer's studio lights.  The owner of the business witnessed my Pavlovian reaction and laughed at me in his wicked way.  The "ice cream" was mashed potatoes stiffened with sawdust and glue with lacquer on top.

Once in on the joke, I considered specializing in setting up food shoots.  I devoted a good 15-20 minutes of watching a pretty woman adjusting acrylic blobs of fake condensation on the bowl and decided I'd rather scrape up road kill than work in food staging.

Moments like this have been popping into my mind because I've been backing up old files, including stuff from past jobs.  Do you know that flash drives have to be plugged in once in a while to keep them valid?  Or that DVDs eventually fail?  Plus, store them flat or the data can leak out.  I don't want to lose things because I can often rework something instead of starting from scratch.  I've also been taking time to go clean up some files so they take less memory. 

In the process, I found old art that didn't work out but has some potential.  This is a rework of one of those pieces.  I've always had an interest in this style of patterning, but never felt satisfied with my efforts.  I fussed it and am feeling much better about my approach to the style.  I'm contemplating making it a linoleum print -- or maybe fuss it some more before committing to cutting print.

I mentioned the "ice cream" experience to a photographer friend once, and he waxed nostalgic about other "food" concoctions.  I expanded my road kill fantasies to include listening to food photography methods.  All the same, the initial experience was cool and I like working with photographers.  I just can't bear the tedium of their business -- which of course can't be confused with the delightful hours I've spent on art.  You've just got to find your medium.

Sometimes I'm baffled by people who don't find their calling.  They should do different things until they find something they like.  I suppose trying new things means you'll be a rank amateur at all of those things until you've learned some skills in one of them.  You've got to be willing to suck at something, and I happily admit I'm lousy at a lot of things.  There's lots of things I can still learn, and learning is fun.

Dad used to say "You can do whatever you set your mind to", which I viewed as an open horizon of possibilities.  Sis viewed it as a punishment if she didn't achieve success.  Dad followed up with "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"  Sis looked dangerous about then, but Dad was right.

Play, experiment, try, and try again.  Don't let short-term defeats limit you.  We savor the successes we fight to achieve.  Looking back on my early pattern work, well, some of it wasn't good, but I enjoyed doing it in a way making sawdust potatoes pleased my friend.  I got better at patterns and still enjoy them enough to play around with previous rejects.  I hope everyone finds their scoop of "ice cream".

Sunday, February 26, 2017

"Heroic"

Neville Longbottom won the house championship for Gryffindor at Hogwarts.  He was a clumsy, pudgy, forgetful, unlikely hero, but he was willing to fight his friends to do what was right.

"There are all kinds of courage," said Dumbledore, smiling. "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."

Sometimes I think Harry Potter was a stupid, arrogant child to think he could save the world.  But he was destined to be the hero, which makes me angry at destiny playing with people's insignificant, little lives.  Perhaps I identify a little too strongly with Harry?  However, we need Nevilles.  The US really needs Republican Nevilles right now.

We also clearly need Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Keith Olbermann, John Oliver, Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert, moms fighting for kids' education and school lunches,  old people with hiking sticks, scientists with pocket protectors, and people with pussy hats.  They are all heroes, yet we also need people on the other side of the fight to be heroes too because with all branches of the US government in the hands of one party, these are the people who can best stand up to the current insanity.

Most Americans agree on major issues.  Dumping sludge in streams is a bad idea.  Kids need to go to school.  Old people and the disabled need social security.  Issue after issue, Americans agree about our major goals.  We can disagree about some specifics, but our goals are mostly the same.

There are Republicans in Congress and on the courts who know that the current fascist moves of the T white house are wrong.  A few have spoken up, but how many others are waiting and fearing on the sidelines without truly representing the people?  How many representatives avoid home town hall meetings because they know the voters are mad and afraid?

I'm asking Republicans to do what's right.  Be informed of what's going on beyond Fox News.  Encourage nonpartisan reviews of illegal, unpatriotic actions.

Do you really want to be remembered for being in Voldemort's party?  Remember, the different Hogwarts houses came together in the end.  Slitheran Severus Snape is remembered in the end as one of the greatest heroes.  I'm not asking you to sing Kumbaya, wear a pussy hat, and agree with Democrats on everything.  Just speak up against insanity.


Bro2 and I lunched and this is his contribution to "heroic".  We didn't vote the same  in the election, but I totally agree with his take on the topic.  We're both engrossed and disgusted with current events.  Let's all of us, on every side of it, speak up and do what we can whether we're Neville, Harry, or Severus.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Stomp"

My friend gave me a riding lawn mower.  This is a very nice gift even though the mower didn't work, but Bro4 agreed to fix it, not to mention going to get it in his pickup truck.  Just putting the mower in the truck was entertaining as he backed his truck into a steep ditch, blocking the road horizontally, dropping the tail gate, and 3 people shoving said mower into truck.  Did I mention the mower had flat tires and it was a cold, slippery day?  Neighbor John told me later that he really enjoyed the show.

I got a new battery as the mower has been sitting in a shed for a few years.  Turn key.  Nothing, but Bro is great at fixing things.  It didn't take long before he found a pulse and gave it CPR.  Yippee!  Of course there was more fiddling and issues, but some open heart massage eventually kicked it back to life.  Thanks Korki and thanks Pete!

I was sent to the store with a shopping list where I definitely had an urge to stomp my foot at people with less pulse than the lawnmower.  The man stared dimly at his female coworker who was doing nothing.  "She's the one who knows how to look things up."  Okay, I reined in my impatience and stared at the woman staring into space too.  Eventually, a customer spoke to the woman and it became clear that she was helping him with something.  He went off again, she went back to staring into space.  More of my life ticked past as our triangle of passivity stretched my patience.

"Couldn't you get the air filter or something while we're waiting?" I asked.  The man said that he didn't know which air filter to get.  "It's the same as this one."  (Which is in the bag I've already shown you and which remains open an inch from your hand.)  He clearly had an internal struggle about taking this kind of initiative, but eventually got the air filter.  I suggested he get the rest of the things on the list.  He did, reluctantly, shuffling slowly, one item at a time, even though all of these items were in the same place.

The woman remained statuesque, not in any aesthetic sense, just in absolute immobility.  Eventually, eventually, the other customer came back and she eventually, (did I say "eventually"?) completed the other customer's order and her opaque stare turned to me.  I explained my need for a drive belt and showed the worn belt I'd brought with me.

"We need the mower information."  I pointed at the info written at the bottom of the list.  "We need the size of the mower deck."  I explained that the belt wasn't for the mower blades, just to lower the deck, but since she insisted on needing the size I called Bro and got the info.  She maintained she still needed the actual model number, but after a lot of insistence on my part, the man eventually shuffled off for a belt.  I compared it to the worn belt.  "They're not the same size."  "Yes, they are!"  Absolutely not.  I held the two together to show there was about a foot difference.  "Well, it's your fault for not having the model number.  We don't know anything..."  "Clearly!"

I didn't stomp my foot, but I wanted to.  I took my stuff and wasted more of my life essence in the check out line where there were only 2 customers ahead of me, but it took another 15 minutes.  I drove to another store to get the belt.  The store is missing.  After fruitlessly driving around, I discovered they moved the store.  But of course, it was closed by the time I found it.  I hate shopping.

This is unintentional art.  I've decided to retire a pair of my sweatpants and liked the paint smears on the thighs.  I scanned it thinking I might use it as a background for something.  Somehow paint-smeared sweatpants seems apropos for my foot-stomping day?

Unrelated to any of this, for those of the praying type, please remember Sue in your prayers.  She has health issues.

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Tea"

English medics used to give gut-shot soldiers tea when they were wounded.  It seems like a comforting thing to do, but it often killed the wounded soldiers.  Somehow, death by tea seems like a good way to go?  Probably not, but it does highlight the importance of tea.  After all, Americans started a revolution by throwing tea in Boston Harbor.


I did a blog search to see if I'd posted this art for 1800flowers before (not) and discovered I've mentioned tea a lot, most often as an aspect of companionship and/or contemplation.  Dad and I drank tea as we did our many projects.  My family drank gallons of it when we visited our grandparents.  Hasn't everyone sat on the front porch with iced tea in a Currier and Ives glass?

I've designed a lot of tins, but this is the only one I keep in my kitchen, appropriately stocked full of tea.  I got sidetracked while in the kitchen while taking the tin pic and took some pics of Grandma's every day china.  This set was made at Hall China where my Great Grandpa Winters worked.

I love this set of dishes, especially all the hidden roses.  I don't use them very often though because they're rimmed with gold.  That means no microwave or dishwasher.  I have a set of plain white Hall dishes for every day.  Somehow, I think we've lost something important with all our modern conveniences.

Grandpa's bowls for Chex and currants,
or mounded with ice cream
I survived my experience with the justice system this week, though testifying in court was stressful even though everyone was very nice.  Some jurists smiled encouragingly at me when I was on the stand.  I suppose my nerves were pretty obvious.  I didn't get cross-examined, so that was good.

Large serving dish has roses inside too
I couldn't sleep the night after testifying.  I kept going over what I said, what I should've said better, round and around and around in my mind.  I was just a character witness for my friend who died and her surviving husband (who is waiting for the outcome at the courthouse as I'm typing this).  Telling myself to stop obsessing didn't work, and neither did telling myself that I'd done my best and that was good enough.

Consomme bowl -- not that I ever have consomme, but
how cool is it to have bowls specifically for that?
The lawyer made me identify Toby in a photo he put up on a big screen.  She was life-size, smiling, and happy.  Once in a while I ignored everyone in the courtroom and just looked at her.  She wouldn't be judging my performance.  She'd be full of support and give me a hug.  Thinking of her warmth and friendship so apparent in the photo, I finally drifted asleep.

Multiple gravy boats, plus creamer, sugar, and a whole lot of other unnecessary pieces
Grandma's dishes are just something on the top shelf of the hardest to reach cupboard in the kitchen -- but when I'm particularly blue or sick, I get out a teacup and saucer and think of her love and laughter while sipping a cup of tea.  I bet that's the kind of thing the wounded British soldiers thought too while they were dying because it's not about the china, or the tea, or what exact words were spoken.  It's the feelings we carry with us of the people who may not be with us physically anymore, but who have written on our hearts and made us who we are.

Happy Valentine's Day!  Let's celebrate love in all its forms :)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

"Up"

I used to spend a lot of time "up".  I climbed very, very tall pine trees and observed my empire with wind whistling in my ears.  Squirrels were far below me, and very few birds soared above.  I climbed as high as I could, the tree top swaying wildly in the wind.

God, that was nuts.  Pine trees are brittle, temperamental things, even for a small, skinny child.  I knew it was reckless, even before a branch broke under my foot and I slid 20-30 feet with my arms desperately wrapped around the tree trunk, my face pulverized by rough pine bark, and branches breaking and scraping every other part of my tender young self until I reached a branch solid enough to thunk me to a pelvis shattering stop.  Picking pine sap out of a scraped face can teach you a thing or two about safety.

I switched to a slightly sturdier blue spruce, a vantage point allowing better unobstructed views of people in my empire.  There was some kissing that wasn't exactly private.

I'm going to court this week as a character witness for my friend who is seeking justice for the school bus accident which killed his wife a couple of years ago.  I've had multiple lawyer conversations about wife/husband/their marriage, and my/her husband's loss.  The lawyer is pleasant, but I want to shove these pesky feelings aside and get on with life.

Even so, there's something about the structure of the questions that forces me to recognize exactly what I lost and what I still have.  Why was I friends with her, and why do I remain friends with him?  I laughed with him the other day.  Oh yeah, he's funny.  Add that to my list of stuff to say in court.  He showed up on time when we met for lunch.  Add "reliable" and "considerate".

Before the accident, the three of us used to get together for dinner, sometimes with another friend.  I took a great deal of pleasure observing their happy marriage.  They liked and loved each other.  How many of us are lucky enough to achieve that?  What could I learn about relationships from their excellent example?

Maybe my adult self isn't that much different from the childish voyeur?  I wanted, then and now, insights in how people make their relationships work.  Back in the day, we had a party line.  That's a phone line that has 2 or 3 homes connected to the same number.  I listened to the Taylor girl talk to her boyfriend with my hand over the receiver so they couldn't hear my breathing.  I was enthusiastic about their relationship.

See, I was never mean-spirited about my spying.  I wanted happy people.  I didn't really appreciate "invasion of privacy" until I was older.  And while I avidly watched chaste kissing, I was uncomfortable if there was fondling.  I wasn't that kind of voyeur.  I just enjoyed the love and romance of it all.  I was so innocent, I didn't even know anything came after kissing, hugs, and hand holding.

In the spirit of wishing others happiness, multiple people have told me they're stressed about US politics.  I'd suggest we limit how much news we watch, and do what we can to relax and enjoy life.  I'm going to go to a meeting this week to see what I can do in a practical way to stop/limit chaos.  Let me offer an American apology to Mexico, Canada, Australia, Muslims, Jews, and anybody else already, or soon to be, insulted.  Most of us still appreciate our friends.  Set us a good example, and some of us will learn about making relationships work.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

"Mischief"

Bro3 was the definition of "mischief" as he ran away from me to do exciting, fun, dangerous things and causing me a world of anxiety for his safety.  My puppy ran through the house with the end of the toilet paper, wrapping it around table legs and up steps until I could flatten him in a corner.  I have a lot of stories about Bro3 and that particular dog.  I'm still torn between exasperation and hilarity since neither of them actually died in their adventures.

Dog allowed me to leave the house for a limited amount of time.  If I was late, he took everything out of the refrigerator, including all those expired condiments I'd forgotten about, and arranged them all over the kitchen floor with the fridge door hanging wide open.  He sat in the middle of his plunder and gave me that look of "you deserve this for neglecting me".  I used baby locks, duct tape, and heavy furniture to keep him out of the fridge.  Nothing stopped him except my timely arrival.

Another time, the dog family was left in the fenced yard for the afternoon.  I came home to a rabbit head on my floor.  Ew.  Thankfully, I had a brother around for head removal while I checked out the rest of the house for the bunny's corpse.  It was laid out on my cedar chest, skinned and gutted, with icky slime oozing on the floor.  Hey Bro!  Would you mind taking this out too?  Yuck.  I cleaned it all up, and then wandered around saying, "this doesn't feel quite finished yet".  The cookbook, which had been inside the upper kitchen cupboard, was in the back yard.  The index was dog ripped to R stands for Rabbit.  That dog was so smart it's a good thing he didn't have opposable thumbs.

I don't suppose I have much of a point in all this other than to say we need "good" people keeping the world going round in predictable ways.  The mischievous make that world more fun (exasperating, anxious) and they give us stories.  I don't know what the proper proportion of good to mischievous should be, but I'm sure we need at least a few around.

We need raccoons too.  I'm not really sure why, but the world would be less interesting without them getting in garbage cans and fishing in decorative back yard ponds.  I spent a day this summer watching a coon family teasing my dog and trying to nab my fish.  The baby coons were just too adorable as they played in a weaving string of cuteness up and down and around trees, dropping sticks on my dog, barking at her barking.


Just doodles without much reason, but should "mischief" have reason?  I'm not talking about nasty mischief at any rate, just teasing play where nobody gets hurt.  But the more I think of doodles, the more I think that they're very important.  They're a meditation, sometimes give us an insight into ourselves, give us ideas for future projects.  I don't know that these will turn into anything other than what they are, but I can see making a raccoon like this out of cardboard.  Maybe waterproof it and put it by the pond to protect the fish?

Also, it's come to my attention that some people feel stressed when doodling because they're "not good at it".  Um?  You don't have to be good at it.  Nobody grades it or calls you incompetent, or if they do, get rid of those people.  Draw nonsense lines if that's what makes you feel happy.  Scribble with your eyes closed and see what happens.  Let a little mischief into your life.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Swirl"

My dreams have been busy lately.  Awake or asleep, My thoughts swirl around people I know and have known.  I yelled at a man 20 or 30 years ago, "Stupid, and damned proud of it!"  He laughed and cracked open another beer.  Apply his ways to my conundrums on a personal or national level, and it explains a lot, which isn't to say I like reality.

I overheard a couple of climate change deniers discussing their concerns about whether or not fruit trees will be confused by the weather which is in the 60s F in mid-January.  These women understand trees could bloom, and that winter may return and freeze the blossoms, but they don't believe human activities are a factor, even though they agree January has never been this warm.  They're only going to admit to a problem when apple prices go up, but really, not even then.  They never admit they were wrong.

Another woman said, "A lot of scientists say climate change isn't real."  I emailed her the NASA website which disproves that statement (without my personal commentary).  She said I should look at other "news" to get the other side of things and gave me a newspaper with an article trashing Joe Biden, none of which was true or current.

I feel like Michelle Obama at the 2017 inauguration and hoping that US democracy isn't swirling down the drain.

I do in fact read what the opposition has to say, and it worries me about a lot of things, but I'm also trying to feel optimistic that the structure of the US is strong enough to withstand its current challenges.  We've had some terrible presidents before and survived.  Well, some people survived.  A lot of people didn't.  But hey, I'm trying to be optimistic.  I'm even trying to get my head around the inevitable Pence presidency as if it isn't a calamity.  At least he isn't pathological (I hope).

This troll has been in my mind for the last year.  It may not be my most charitable creative effort, but it just had to exist.  I'm not talking about the model for it because he just gets stronger every time his name is mentioned like clapping for fairies in Peter Pan.

Enough of my political angst.  One of the reasons I started thinking of the beer drinker was as a character in my slightly dusted off novel.  I actually have a lot written, but only a small part is actually worth much.  It occurred to me that I need an actual plot and found this article helpful.  I've spent some days pondering about the goal of my story and how I'm going to get there.  My plot isn't entirely filled in, but I have made progress.

I've also thought a lot about why I stopped writing this novel.  My lack of plot made me feel adrift and I couldn't get centered.  I talked about this with someone who made a series of personal criticisms of me and my writing, which I consciously rejected, but which undermined my subconscious motivation.  I'm going to avoid people like that.

It's going to take a long time before I have something to show on this project, but I've made a commitment to myself to write something every day, even if what I write is bad at first.  Progress takes effort.  I'll try to keep that in mind as I watch politics too.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Internet"

The power went out when I was sleeping the other day.  Harumpf.  I rolled over and went back to sleep.  1 1/2 hrs of extra sleep later, there still wasn't any power.  I thought I'd watch tv since I couldn't do my usual internet stuff.  Oh.  Yeah.  Well, my brain isn't the sharpest first thing in the morning.

Thankfully, it wasn't a real cold day.  I read a book while my puppy warmed my feet until the electric guys showed up.  I watched with interest as they maneuvered a cherry picker into my back yard and worked on my lines in a torrential down pour while I drank tea inside, counting my blessings I didn't have to fix electrical lines.

The power still didn't come on for hours.  I had computer withdrawal.  There's so many ways to waste time online, and I'm clearly not self-disciplined enough to stop getting my dopamine fixes.  The holidays are over, it's time to make a plan for the future.  Or a plan to get a plan?  Ooh, email!  Hmm, a documentary on Jeffrey Daumer.  I can make a plan tomorrow, right?

I used to toss a leaf on the water and observe where it went.  Another leaf at the same entry point would go somewhere else.  All the water was running in the same direction, but the leaves didn't follow the same path.  The Tao of Pooh, or maybe it was Te of Piglet, says to be like the leaf on the water.  Don't worry about other leaves.  Don't fight the current, floating is easy and takes you where you need to be.

In this context, making a plan is hard for me right now.  I'm afraid if I don't get one together soon, bad things will result, or good things will be delayed.  Yet, the distractions in life are also the journey.  Educational videos online help me sort my thoughts and discard some baggage.  Emails are helpful and/or supportive.  Maybe the best possible use of my time is what feels good to do right now?

I pulled a muscle in my arm.  I re-injured it because I overdid it again.  Maybe my arm would be better by now if I just sit down and chill a while?  But no, I slipped on the last basement step, spraining my ankle and foot.  I figure the power outage was the universe forcing me to take it easy.  I've finally decided to cooperate with the master plan.

I have ideas for the future, but I've been fighting with myself about what I'm going to do.  Some of these ideas will take a long time to complete and require research, but I want to make money now!  So, will I waste time fighting myself, or just do what my heart wants to do?  I betcha I'm not the only one having this kind of internal dialogue.

I got an email from a friend who is "working towards independence".  If I know this guy, his independence will turn  out great because he's driven.  He didn't detail what he's doing, but I can picture it.  I feel enthusiastic for him.  That enthusiasm for him makes me feel more motion within myself for my undefined goals.  See, the internet isn't a waste of time (entirely), it's just a rock in the river bumping me in a new direction.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Sound"

I've been working on my throat chakra which is associated with verbal expression, speaking our truth.  To clear our throats, we're to speak, shout, hum... sing.

I damaged my singing voice years ago, yelling at an unruly kid when I was substitute teaching.  Something tore inside.  Recently, a singer on tv described a similar injury.  She exercised her throat, starting gently and working her way up to full throttle.  I thought, "I can do that!"  So, I've been singing.  It hasn't been perfect, but it's getting better.  My dog looks less worried anyway.

From the musical Grease, I softly sang Rizzo's flirtations, but I belted out the last verse with full volume and accuracy.

I could hurt someone like me, out of spite or jealousy... I can feel and I can cry, a fact I'll bet you never knew, but to cry in front of you, that's the worst thing I could do.

I can do Cat Stevens' "Father and Son" pretty well too.  Apparently I sing feelings.

All the times that I've cried, keeping all the things I knew inside.  It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.  If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them they know not me.  Now there's a way, and I know that I have to go away.

No doubt my throat chakra is messed up because I kept my mouth shut working for The Church, where intelligent, informed women aren't appreciated.  To prove this, they hired a completely incompetent man and demanded I teach Skippy how to do said job.  Perhaps you know me well enough by now to guess how I reacted?  They tossed in bullying and sexual harassment just to make sure I got the full Catholic experience.

Before you ask, they're allowed to bully employees.  While Skippy is younger than me, he's over 40 so the age discrimination rights are weak.  While multiple lawyers told me I have a case for the sexual harassment (which I documented and reported), they said the Catholic church is a well-oiled, armored machine to combat lawsuits.  (Ex. decades of unprosecuted pedophilia cases.)  AND, they're exempt from paying Unemployment benefits.  I've thought of clearing my throat chakra by screaming.

The top priest said he'd write me a letter of recommendation because I'm a conscientious worker.  "We're just going in a different direction" -- which is the opposite of the BS they promised when they hired Skippy.  In case you didn't know, priests lie.  A lot.

You may have noticed there was some time I skipped blogging in 2016.  Now you know why.  I hung onto the job for a while during and after this blackout, but I wasn't ready to talk about it through the limping, conflicted end.  I also really didn't want to blast everyone with my rage -- especially when all of this too neatly coincided with Trump and his followers' sexism.  2016 sucked.  Yay for 2017?  Oh, right, Trump won.  Fffff...

Onto the future.  My liberation may work in the convoluted way of the universe?  I'm looking forward to creative projects truer to my nature and beliefs.  The lawyers say I can talk about The Church as much as I'd like as long as it's true.  OMG that's a lot of material to work with!  It's the prize for allowing myself to be stifled for a paycheck.  I have a scathing book idea :)

In a nutshell, it sucks, I'm glad to be free of it, I have enough savings to get by for while as I figure out what to do with myself, and I partly wonder if I brought this on myself by envying my college pal's free and creative lifestyle?  Ask and you shall receive -- but be careful what you wish for!

I did this art my first year of blogging in 2010.  It seems like a long time ago, but also kind of like hitting restart in more ways than one.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

"Talk"

My year-end index is a mental review.  What did we talk about?  What mattered?  What can I learn from it, and how to move forward?  I've reread the posts and some old journals too because there are things I want to release.  I don't want to carry old anger and disappointments into the new year.

I discovered in my journals that I was sick all the time when I was married.  I had a breast infection for 2 years that wouldn't heal plus other ailments and infections, some requiring surgery.  Of course my husband thought I was entirely at fault for falling apart and had a lot of demands for fixing me.  "What I need...", I said to my doctor.  "What you need is a DIVORCE!" Doc said before sending me to the hospital in an ambulance.  He was right.  I got healthy in an amazingly short time after I followed his advice and haven't had those kinds of medical problems since.

I read my journals to see if I've neglected to purge any of my ex's negativity.  He often said "I can't make you feel anything", and it was "just words" anyway.  But his insidious words crept into my psyche and kept hurting long after, because the really sick part of people like this is they get you to do all that re-wounding to yourself.  They plant doubts and criticisms we replay in our minds.  I felt powerless to defend myself.  I didn't have a place to go.  Remembering all this makes 2016 look somewhat better, and it was a sucky year.

I want to let it go.  New years are new beginnings, even if the date is arbitrary.  The challenge is that it doesn't take much effort to say something nasty.  It's harder for the recipient to release it.  You can't do that until you're ready, and you can't talk yourself into being ready.  You have to feel it, but until you do, hanging onto your pain slowly kills you and your achievements.

Human relations are messy and necessary, but toxic relationships are just destructive with a bit of frosting on top to keep you in the game.  I stumbled across more verbal abuse by an ex-boss in my journals, and thought of other hurtful people I've known.  It's a shared experience we don't talk about enough, but I doubt we talk much about things that really matter.  Smile and suffer quietly so you don't disturb others, but that kind of advice protects abusers and doesn't give us tools to actually achieve happiness.

All of us are responsible for what we say, and that includes what we replay in our minds.  Be nicer to yourself.

I want to say optimistic things for the new year, and talking about negativity seems, uh, negative?  But I'm trying to say something hopeful.  All of us can talk in helpful ways to others.  We don't have to carry the past in ways that hurt us.  We learn, we grow, we discover our happiness through our intentions to do so.  It's the best New Year's resolution I can come up with at any rate.  What's yours?

Wishing you happiness, achievements, peace, and plenty in the New Year!