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Wednesday, July 28, 2010


My first thought for IF's word of the week was to go back to my girl with the bucket on her head of a couple weeks ago, but having 2 girls scrubbing my basement because I need a double. The plumbing disaster has been disastrous, and I have been scrubbing mold and mildew from things before tossing them in the driveway as hopeless.

The claims adjuster has come and gone, and I guess he doesn't value my stuff as much as I do. All these years of collecting has been forcibly brought back to a more manageable level. Gone is the solid oak desk I used in college. Gone are the wooden cubby holes I got from a previous job. Gone is the oak bookshelf my dad scavenged from Case Western when they remodeled their dorms. Gone, gone, gone... but did I really need any of these things? When was the last time I actually worked at that desk?

Objects that remind me of people don't really bring those people back. If you get down to it, my creepy landlord gave me that desk, and remembering him just brings back the image of him peeking in my window. But the desk reminded me of sharing the rundown party house with Pat and Matt and how they shot the wall with a nail gun. They stuck birthday candles in the holes, then nearly burned the house down while they laughed and ate Cap'n Crunch dry out of the box -- but do I need a big, moldy piece of furniture to remind me of my very accurate prediction of what would happen when they lit those candles?

I'm too tired this week to make new art, so this is something I did for the dedication of Lake Farmpark, which is a demonstration farm in Lake County, Ohio. The art was created in pen and ink then printed on linen paper. I'd like to write something sweet about my twin brothers, but I'm pretty sure they know I love them. Besides, they like to be considered singular individuals instead of part of a pair anyway. Give me time. I'll write about them eventually!

Friday, July 16, 2010


I spent most of my childhood looking forward to August. The first 2 weeks were Girl Scout camp, and the last 2 weeks were Grandma's. Good breakfasts all the way around, but the best were at Grandma's.

She was round, jolly, and straight out of Norman Rockwell's "Freedom of Want". In fact, everything about her was a demonstration of freedom of want. The candy jar was always filled, the table was heavy with dinners, and breakfasts were made to order whenever my sisters and I woke up in the mornings -- until 10:00. I overslept once and was informed the kitchen was closed. I had to eat cereal with sour currents on top with Grandpa. I never overslept again.

The best breakfast was when I was about 8. Grandma was smiling in the kitchen when I came down the stairs. She asked for my order, and I put some thought into it. I didn't get these kinds of luxuries at home. Grandma was so willing, so loving, I put her to the test.

1 poached egg
Blueberry waffles
Fresh squeezed orange juice, with pulp

Grandma looked at me with shock. I'm sure she never considered that I would stretch her morning amiability so far. I offered to revise my order, but she said it was okay, and heaved herself under the cupboards for the waffle iron and mixing bowls. I hopped around and gathered the ingredients while popping fresh blueberries in my mouth in my excitement.

It was fun to cook with Grandma, and when other people in the house realized what we were making, we had an audience and welcome takers for the waffles. Nothing had ever tasted so good. Fresh maple syrup from Amish country and a light dusting of confectioners' sugar sifted over top, on the dishes my great grandpa had made when he worked at Hall Pottery.

I already loved Grandma, and I loved her even more for that breakfast, but I never tested her again. I ate poached eggs or cereal the rest of that visit to show her my appreciation. Best Grandma. No wonder I longed for August all year.

It's funny about memories like this. The obvious illustration should be Grandma and me in her glossy turquoise kitchen with sparkling white cabinets, and windows that looked out to Grandpa's apple tree -- but I don't want to touch this memory with something less than perfection, and that kind of perfection just isn't going to happen this week.

In case you ready last week's posting, my plumbing issues have been disastrous. I had to call the insurance company and have had very hot, very noisy machines in my house all week trying to dry things out. I still have 2 of the machines, and I'm just not going to try people illustrations with that kind of disruption going on. I'm not even sure I'd like to do a picture of Grandma. She's perfect in my memories.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Dear Diary (Friday),

This hasn't been a good week, and to make matters worse, the pipes to the kitchen sink broke this morning while I was sleeping. A cascading waterfall ran down the steps, and water leaked through the hardwood floors to the basement, which may explain why water is also spraying out of the heating ducts?

I shut off the water and started mopping and sponging. I had to take everything out of the cupboards and sop out everything in there too. Piles of stuff are stacked up everywhere.

Then it started to rain outside.

I went to the store in the downpour and bought critical supplies -- chips, M&M's, and Pepsi. I don't care what Dr. Phil would say at this particular moment. Sometimes the best possible thing is to medicate with comfort food and take a step back. I can deal with Chinese printers who don't speak English, impossible deadlines, changing software, and so many other things, but plumbing brings me to my knees. I can see why the Romans gave up plumbing after Herculaneum got smothered by a volcano.

Dear Diary (Saturday),

I almost had a break down this morning when I realized water was still leaking above the shut off valve in the kitchen, dripping down the pipe, through the floor, and into the basement. I turned off the shut off valve in the basement, which immediately leaked a stream of very cold water down my arm, straight into my arm pit.

The obvious solution was to go to garage sales because I couldn't deal with any more water issues. I bought a planter for 50 cents. I may put a cactus in it because I don't want to look at any more water. I was up late last night sopping things up in the basement, and there are still puddles down there.

Deep breath and a time out...

I put a washer in the kitchen shut off valve, dismantled the water supply, and sat on the kitchen floor deeply mystified why things weren't working. It all looked like it should work. I made some adjustments to the fittings, reassembled, turned the water back on, and held my breath. So far, so good. Shhhhhh.... I feel superstitious about upsetting the plumbing god right now.

There's kitchen stuff all over the house, the basement is still a soggy mess, and I've just discovered another area in the basement which got drenched, but maybe, just maybe the worst is over? Or maybe the worst will be over once I pay for the water lost -- which I'm pretty sure would fill at least 3 swimming pools.

Maybe the bright side of all this is that my furnace ducts have been very thoroughly rinsed with water. I don't want to die of black mold, so I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in Ohio with the furnace set to 95 to push hot air through the ducts.

Dear Diary (Sunday),

My feet and ankles hurt, and the last thing I want to do on a perfect summer day is spend it in a dank basement. I've discovered that paint cans begin to rust and clothes get musty within 2 days. A fan will help water evaporate by moving air around. Wet cardboard boxes don't hold anything, and newspaper wrapped around dishes holds about 3X more water than the paper's mass. There are a lot of steps down to my basement, and even more steps going up. Above all, I have learned that I really don't need everything in the basement!

Friday, July 2, 2010


David and Goliath has been done, and done again, and done so well, why should anyone even try to touch the subject after Michelangelo perfected the subject? Probably because the story speaks to everyone. We all want to feel that we can overcome obstacles, even if we are each just flies in the universe. We want to feel that right is might, even though the world is destroyed by power grabbing politicians, businesses, and other perpetrators who are just too big for any of us to defeat with a rock.

Which is, I suppose, part of human nature. We all want someone else to solve the problems, enjoy the benefits, and retain the right to criticize the people who try to fight the battles for us.

Someone said that the thing we fear the most is our own power. If we really recognize the power within ourselves, we would feel the obligation to live up to our abilities. That's really frightening. That means sharing our feelings, standing up for what's right, taking risks -- and when we dare to do those things, we have become the giants, and people will try to take us down so everyone remains on the same level. That way everyone can remain comfortable in their passive complaints about the world.

Let's fight the giants!

This picture is painted on canvas, with the map, and oil and blood drips added in PhotoShop.