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Friday, December 30, 2011


As I huddle next to my space heater and peer at the computer screen through bleary, sleep-deprived eyes and type with slightly frost-bitten fingers, “highlight” holds a certain amount of irony while I wait for the furnace guy to call and explain why my furnace sounds like a jet flying through the house. The woman at the 24-hour phone service asked, “Is it an emergency?” In other words, do you want to pay triple to wake up the poor guy who actually fixes furnaces? “No.” Sigh. That was many hours ago. I’m starting to rethink “emergency”. It is winter after all. Maybe the “highlight” is that the temperature has worked its way up to 45F outside, which is actually rather balmy for this time of year.

I had a disagreement once with my sister about optimists vs. pessimists. My position is that all pain is temporary and it’s better to look towards future good when things aren’t going well. My sister said it’s better to always look at the down side of things because then you’re never unpleasantly surprised. In this case, she wouldn’t be surprised about a roaring furnace, but her resulting happiness would only be in being right about potential furnace disasters. That doesn’t seem very helpful when I’m cold and don’t want to hear anyone rubbing it in. Wait… extra friction might create some warmth?

When I visited California, my host apologized for the “bad weather”. Huh? I looked around at the blue ocean, the handful of puffy clouds slowly drifting across the clear sky, and wondered where the “bad” was hiding. He moaned that it was “so overcast”, and I laughed. My friend Korki recently said it was a good day because she “almost saw blue”. Yeah! Toughen up California boy! People in Ohio actually live longer than you people with reliably pleasant weather. Of course we might have a heart attack digging snow out of our driveways, but at least that’s a quick death instead of your prolonged skin cancer. Yep, I prefer looking for positives.

Of course I can get down just like anyone else. In fact, I can get somewhat more down because I’m a competitive perfectionist. Why experience a simple down when you can experience exquisite misery? Obviously you’re just not trying hard enough. On the other hand, how can I be anything less than grateful that the furnace broke on a Friday instead of on the weekend when the repair guy wants to party on New Year’s Eve and charges holiday rates on top of weekend rates? I’m glad that my furnace problems happened in 2011 instead of bringing unpleasantness into the new year. I’m glad my brother Pete gave me some beautifully split firewood. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I often think the pessimists have me outnumbered. How many people are waiting for the world to end in 2012 because the Mayans quit filling in their calendar? Church people love to predict disasters too. “Do what we say or bad things will happen!” I mean really, what’s worse than perpetual hell? Why not focus on the promise of perpetual heaven? A lot of people listen to the negative rants by politicians too, which is why we end up having wars and doing a lot of other stupid things, but they always seem to be looking in the wrong directions. Why get riled up because some people are gay? Isn’t that the gay people’s problem if it’s actually a problem for anyone? Let’s talk about pollution instead which we can prove causes cancer and other unpleasant and preventable problems. Of course the longer I sit in the cold, the more negative things I’ll probably think about. At least I’ve got a home and a warm puppy, which is more than a lot of people. Sometimes we all need a reminder to be grateful for what we have.

I like making snowflakes. I liked cutting them out of construction paper when I was in elementary school, and I like drawing them in PhotoShop. I used bevel/emboss just to highlight the highlight theme. I don’t know why I picked these colors. They seem illogical, but seemed logical in the cold.

Happy New Year everyone!!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Doves have been the messengers for God and wars. Even the extinction of the passenger pigeon was a message of a sort. Too bad we’re such slow learners, but tis the season for peace on earth and good will towards men, and the dove is a symbol for that too.

I don’t really have a good story for doves though, unless you want to count the time my dad caught a snow white bird and thought he might be able to hold it for ransom with the rich people up the hill. Alas, it was just a snow white pigeon. I would’ve been willing to keep it just for its tame nature and beauty, but Dad released it back in the wild.

I have successfully taught my dog to leave the mourning doves alone when they splash in my miniature pond in the back yard. “Whooooo whoooooo” in the mornings is a happy way to wake up, and Penny has my full permission to chase as many bunnies, chipmunks, and ground hogs as she wants to chase. She can leave my doves alone – though for some reason I can’t fathom, hunting mourning doves is legal in Ohio. That’s hardly a fair fight when all they do is walk around and peck at bugs on the ground. Am I allowed to use a Bloom County comic here? This has been in my box o’ stuff for maybe a couple of decade because it cracks me up…

The sad thing is that I have personal acquaintance with “fat-bellied stogie suckers”.

But getting back to my miniature pond in the back yard, I keep a pump running in it through the winter. Birds can usually find food, and lots of people put out seed for them, but water can be hard for them to find in winter. The pump keeps the water from completely freezing solid, which may also be keeping my goldfish alive. I’m not really sure about that though because it’s entirely possible that something ate my goldfish. It’s hard to know for sure because the fish like to hide when I come outside.

In case you can’t tell, I’m feeling pretty scattered at the moment. Holidays create chaos, and I’m just typing random thoughts before the next burst of activity. I hope everyone has a happy holiday and a merry new year!

Friday, December 16, 2011


I “borrowed” my dad’s new fishing rod once. He was very proud of it. The length of charcoal gray graphite gave him an ecstasy I didn’t really understand, but I took it with a clear understanding that getting caught in my theft might constitute a death sentence. I suppose I was certain that I could return it without him finding out about it. I didn’t count in the thought that he might get off work early that day. I didn’t consider that I could get caught red-handed with it when I was standing in the river, unable to flee to safety.

A fish jerked the rod out of my hands just as I turned to see Dad running down the hill towards me, and I saw a tough older boy running further downstream. “Vince stole your fishing rod!” seemed like the most logical connect-the-dots thing to say at the time. I don’t care if I was a little kid, and lying is a thing little kids do. I knew better. I don’t care that Vince was a rough, bullying kid either. Just because he’d done plenty of other nasty things, he wasn’t guilty of this. I started to feel shame even as the words flew out of my mouth. Vince isn’t his real name. I won’t add to my sins by naming him now.

Dad must’ve known I lied, but he told Vince’s father about the theft. Then Dad walked me past their house while the heavy slash of the belt and screams filled the air amongst the shouted obscenities. That was the way things were back then, which isn’t to say I condone that kind of thing. My remorse was real, but I couldn’t go into their house to say I lied. Vince’s father was a scary man, even without a belt in his hands. Besides, if I confessed, then I’d be the one getting the belt and Vince was already wounded by that time. Thus started a 20+ year penance of shame, guilt, remorse cycle. That cycle got even worse when I was wading in the river and stumbled into the algae covered wreck of Dad’s pride and joy fishing rod. Years of spring floods had only moved it about 10 feet from that fateful last sighting – which understanding the laws of river physics, is damn near impossible, and yet, there it was. It wasn’t even pinned down by a rock. It just laid in the place where it had sunk so many years before. Dad and Vince’s father were both dead by that time, Vince was even bigger and scarier than he was as a kid, and there was no redemption for my sin. Repentance sucks.

Some years after finding the lost rod, I ran into Vince in a fashionable bar. We were both drunk and happy at the time, and I confessed and asked for forgiveness. I suppose it was a selfish act to admit my remorse because I wanted to feel better about it, and my sister later said that was incredibly stupid since Vince still has a hot temper, but Vince laughed about it. He said he didn’t remember the incident, and what’s one more beating out of the many beatings he received? I don’t think it’s true though. Whether or not he remembers that particular incident, he now knows that I’m sorry, that someone else knew about the whippings, that someone else cares. It’s never too late to say you’re sorry. It won’t change past events, but it might help us look at the past with different eyes.

In the olden days, before selling indulgences to heaven or Martin Luther, confessions used to be given in the full light of the Sunday congregation at church. There was no hiding. If you sinned, you had to tell all of your friends and family what you had done. That’s real repentance. No hiding in a dark closet to confess your secrets to a priest with a chain of prayers for penance. Kneeling in the dark by the side of your bed didn’t count either. In the olden days, the people sinned against had some justice.

Solstice (December 21) is a traditional time of contemplation, letting go, forgiveness, and hopes for the future. The darkest days of winter lengthen into light, and we can let go of things that hold us back. If we can help lighten someone else’s load, even better.

My computer hates me again today, so I’m keeping things simple on visuals today. I think the bobber looks a lot like a Christmas ornament though, so let’s say I’m keeping things seasonal :)

Friday, December 9, 2011


When Grandma died and we were moving Grandpa out of their house, I kept a lot of things that were meant for the curb. I didn’t want to let go of Grandma or the house. Keeping things that mattered to her helped me feel like I had something to keep her close. I was studying genealogy at the time and especially kept things I thought might help me verify family connections. Hence, postcards. Too bad the most interesting postcards didn’t have a thing to do with my DNA since they were written to my Great Grandpa (and his family) who was my Great Grandmother’s third husband, and not Grandma’s biological father. Even so, I knew Grandpa Winters, and it’s interesting to see that he was alive at the same time of steamboats (b. January 19, 1884). Time is a funny thing. Through Grandpa, I’m only separated by steamboats by 1 degree. The log cabin was from a relative of my Great Grandmother’s second husband, so not a direct relation either. I just find it fascinating. I’m not sure who Jerome Brown was, but I find that photo of Tokyo pretty fascinating too. Tragic, but interesting.

I’ve copied the messages as written, including misspellings…

To Master George Winters, Kokomo, Ind.
Jan. 20, 1913
Hello George
How are you by this time? Mabel got her ring last night (Sat.) and she said it was a daisy. She wears it all the time. George - Grandma and I are sending you a big box so write and tell me if you get it. Tell Mamma to send her pillow cases and I will stamp them. Time was out hunting last night with Pa. Be a good boy. Aunt Mary

Oct. 10, 1912
To Mr. Wilson Winters, Kokomo, Ind.
Dear Wils
You can now rest at ease for everything is alright at home. I am really telling you the truth about George. Mary W.
(This was written after a series of increasingly dire postcards predicting George’s likely death. He apparently fully recovered, grew up, moved to California, and made a million dollars. Good for him, but drat, why wasn’t he a direct relation?!)

Decorating Room of Crooksville China Co. Pottery
April 25, 1916
To Mrs. Rhoda Winters, Kokomo, Ind.
Dear Sister: Why on earth don’t you write? Are you sick or what is the matter? Mamma will be crazy if you don’t write soon. Papa said last night he thought it was strange you hadn’t wrote. We are all well and busy as bees. Susie worked Sat. night until 12 oclock and was all in Monday but is rested up now. Mabel thot easter was great. Did George get his box? I was going to make him candy but didn’t have time. I think he might write us once in a while. Now for goodness sake do write a card if nothing else. Love to all. Mary

(Mary nagged a lot about writing :) Grandpa worked at a lot of the different pottery factories in Ohio. He hated it, and would’ve rather been a full-time farmer. I grew up with a lot of Hall Pottery like this cup and teapot, and like to think of Grandpa making them.)

May 23, 1913
To Mr. S. W. Crawford, Fredricksburg, Ohio
Banditti (?)
Dear Bro: will send you a card (on no?) Bordetta (?) now so address (?? this Ohio (?) This is the N. W. corner of cabin inside. Everybody (will?) & hope you act the same (m?) roof. Your bro Hugh C. Wayne Co.

Destruction caused by aerial bombardment, Tokyo, Japan
ST(?) Sgt. Jerome B. Brown

*Note for posterity – Mom says Grandpa’s last name was Winter. Mom ought to know, but I always called him Winters with an ‘s’ at the end. Some of the postcards are one way, some another, but most have an ‘s’ and the card for his funeral had an ‘s’ on the end, so I’m going to continue with the ‘s’ until I find proof positive of the true spelling.

The envelope at the top is part of a set of boxes I did for 1800 Flowers.

Friday, December 2, 2011


I’ve been thinking about the Occupy Wall Street movement a lot lately. I don’t know how much people outside the US are aware of this movement, but the basic premise is people camping in public places in different cities as a nonviolent protest against the extreme wealth of the top 1% and the resulting anger of the remaining 99%. Well, I’m definitely in the 99%, but I really don’t want to camp in the cold to point that out. Various cities have started clearing out these encampments, often with harsh methods including spraying tear gas in the faces of people quietly sitting with their heads down. If the police wanted to shake my benign, hands-off attitude, they’ve done a wonderful job of it. I still don’t want to camp in the cold, especially if I could get tear gassed, but I’m feeling more motivated to express my moral support for the people hardy enough to do it. Something has to change.

The problem is, I really don’t know what to do. The playground bullies have a firm grip on business and politics, and they aren’t going to let go. I don’t have the money or influence to fight them with their own weapons, and I don’t want to let them drag me into that kind of a fight anyway. All I can do is say what I think and hope that others will agree and start speaking up.

My class was eating lunch in the cafeteria when I was in second grade. A girl demanded my apple. She offered to trade something insignificant for it. My hand was in motion when I realized I really wanted to keep my apple. I said “No”. All of the faces of my classmates snapped in my direction to see what would happen next. This wasn’t the first time Rosalyn had extorted food by charm and/or implied force. I could feel the hopes of my classmates riding on my resolve. Rosalyn backed down. When she tried her move on another kid the next day, she was met with another refusal. When she chose the weakest member of our pack, the rest of us stood up and told her to back off. Rosalyn learned to play by the group rules, and I was blessed to have the nicest class in our school.

In a way, this was a really insignificant moment in time, but it changed me. I learned to say “No”. I learned that the rest of the class was just looking for someone to say it first. They just wanted to hear the drum to know which way to march. I’m listening for a drum too to show me what I should do next. We are the majority, and whatever happens with the Occupy movement, at least they’re trying to lead the brigade by beating the drum.

Anatomy Correction

I have to admit that I didn’t really put my heart into my drummer. I was thinking about my general despair about the state of the world, but I really can’t ignore lazy anatomy. Instead of just fixing it and pretending I had it right in the first place, I decided to offer a basic lesson…

The size of the head is a standard measurement for the entire body. Despite what you might see in magazines which stretch bodies to 9, 10, or more heads tall, the average adult is 7 ½ heads tall. Basic points of measurement are the waist and elbows at 3 heads from the top, the crotch at 4 heads from the top. Keep in mind that we’re just talking the size of a bald head without factoring in hair or hats. Babies have bigger heads in proportion to their bodies.

I stretched my boy into less dwarfish proportions in PhotoShop, and narrowed his shoulders so he looks a less like a linebacker. I probably ought to fix his hands too, but I never meant this to be fine art in the first place :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Karma Coins Continued

I’ve decided to give my little dog Penny a karma coin, even though she has received some recent demerits…

“Your dog was in my yard.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve got her back.”
“I don’t want her to get hit by a car, so you better find her.”
“I’ve already got her. I’m sorry she bothered you.”
“I just don’t want her hit.”

This conversation with my next door neighbor John Sr. went on a while until Penny came out and wagged her tail. It was nice of John to come over, especially since he isn’t moving very well anymore and has to use a cane. He obviously can’t hear either. Then I had to listen to his wistful memories of his past dogs that were all some mix of wolf, tiger, shark, and dragon. I’m so glad John Jr. has a nice indoor cat these days.

I took Penny inside and discussed her sins…
“You have to stay in the yard.”
Penny gives me a slightly concerned look.
“Inside the fence is ours. Outside the fence is everybody else. You stay inside our yard.”
Penny thumps her tail on my leg and nestles into my side. We both sigh.

“Hey! Your dog is in my yard!”
I look up and see Penny making gleeful circles around John Jr.
“Alright, I’m coming over.”

‘Coming over’ requires slopping my way through the back 40 of my yard, through my house with muddy boots, and slopping my way through the Johns’ yard where I can’t find Penny or Jr. I slop my way back through their back 40, back through my house, and back to my back 40 – where I can now see Penny in the Johns’ back yard.

“Get over here!”
Penny obediently ducks through a previously undiscovered hole in the fence and wags her tail at me.
“You have to stay in OUR yard!”
Penny looks slightly contrite while I barricade her latest exit point, and watches while I mop muddy footprints in the house. We repeat the conversation about ‘our yard’ vs. everything else. Penny cuddles in my arms and puts her paw on my heart. I’m pretty sure she’s a slow learner, but she’s awfully cute. She breaks down my efforts at discipline.

A couple of cute little boys come to my side door.
“Did my dog get out again?”
“She’s in our yard, and our mom said we had to tell you. Can we play with her?”
I look across the street and see Penny licking the face of their little sister, who is rolling on the grass in hysterical giggles.
“Yeah. Keep her over there a minute. I’ll get my shoes.”

I point my finger in Penny’s face and explain how it’s bad enough to visit the Johns, but she is NOT allowed to cross the street. She licks my finger.

Wait a sec, am I really going to give this dog a karma coin? She’s lucky she’s so sweet and cuddly, and comes when I call her. She’s good for my heart. There’s a reason people with dogs live longer. That’s why she gets a karma coin.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I was doing my usual stuff on the computer, but left the room to take a phone call. When I came back, I was met with a black screen. This can’t be a good thing. I’m feeling like I must’ve done something terribly wrong to be punished like this, and that’s nothing compared to what John’s going to feel when he checks his messages and hears my distress call after he’s spent so much time and effort already on my last computer disaster. Ohhhhh!!!!

So… round? Maybe the circular nature of computer problems? Maybe something to take my mind off such things? What goes around, comes around? Blah, blah, blah. It’s hard to be philosophical when faced with a black computer screen, or maybe it’s necessary to be philosophical at times like this. Isn’t some of this how the idea of karma started?

I don’t remember when I first heard about karma, but it made sense to me – at least in a general way. Or maybe I just wanted karma to exist? Good is rewarded, bad is punished, and the world makes more sense than when obviously bad people get ahead in the world. Do we really want to live in a world where the robber barons buy the best seats in heaven? It’s far better to think of them working in the coal mines in their next lives to pay for their sins. Maybe my desire for karma to exist is a simple plea to the universe to make sense.

Once, I held a door open for a woman going into a store. I didn’t have to do it since she was several yards behind me, but it was raining and she looked rather miserable. Her surprise and gratitude hit me in the heart. I felt like I got a karma point that day. Well, being a collector of things, I figured one karma point was good, lots were better, so I started holding more doors open. No more karma points were awarded. Apparently you don’t get karma points by doing things for karma points. People actually started being kind of nasty to me as they walked through my open doors. I guess they caught onto the fact that I was trying to make myself feel better and they weren’t going to play my game. Serves me right.

After some consideration, I decided the only real way to collect more karma points was to consistently do nice things for others and hope some good would stick along the way. It makes for a much simpler philosophy, and is much easier to maintain. I hold open doors when the person behind me is the right distance away for that to be appropriate or if they’ve got their arms full. Anything more seems to fall into some level of codependency. It’s a complicated world, and the longer I live in it, the more rules I think I understand. At least they seem clearer sometimes. The rest of the time I feel like I’m just grasping at rationality because the world is actually as insane as it seems. Even so, my ideas of karma make my path clearer, and help me walk around with my head up. More doors are opened, more people spread sunshine, and the world makes more sense.

I doodled my karma coin today with the thought that John deserves karma points for his computer help. I’m not sure how that fits into his Catholicism, but I figure he’ll understand my intent. I had already tried restarting my computer earlier today, but since that didn’t work I started unplugging things so I could force Korki’s laptop back into service. I was thinking about my gratitude to both Korki and John when the thought occurred to me to try plugging the power back into my computer. Presto!!! My computer booted up like it was just waiting for me to do exactly that. Can you hear the angels singing?

I’m not sure who’s karma points got cashed in for this latest miracle, but I’m not rocking the boat. I’m fighting the urge to go find doors to open for old people.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Growing up as a lonely wolf child in the woods, I didn’t develop the usual self-awareness of my appearance. It didn’t help that I went from a beautiful child to something, em, not cute. Adults made loud statements over my head. “What happened?!” “She used to be so pretty!” Nobody bothered to point out when my gawky parts started to actually work together in a more acceptable way. If a guy gave me a compliment when I got older, I dismissed his comments as an obvious attempt to get me into bed, with the understanding that guys will do anybody if given the chance. Compliments didn’t put a dent in my inner laments about my unfortunate looks.

Even so, sometimes I got dressed up and people responded well enough to me. I figured it had something to do with being pleasant and/or interesting. Since I knew what it felt like to be dismissed or insulted for my looks, I wanted people to value my insides because looks might be taken away in a car crash, or will definitely be taken away with age.

When I was 29, I put on a black velvet dress. It was long-sleeved, off the shoulder, and tea length. I wore pretty high-heeled shoes despite the fact that my date wasn’t much taller than me when we were barefoot. I painted my lips very red, and caked on black eye liner. Ta da! My date looked at me with disapproval. He had shown up in khakis and a sweater for our double date to the theater. Since he had grown up in NYC, he thought he was more sophisticated than us rubes in Cleveland, and said I was overdressed. I didn’t care. I felt like wearing black velvet and I did. I felt like Madame X in John Singer Sargent’s famous portrait.

During intermission, I raced to the restrooms before the doddering old ladies could get there and reapplied my red, red lipstick. I descended the sweeping stairs of the Palace Theater, and paused on the steps with my hand resting gently on the balustrade. I was completely unselfaware at that moment. I was just searching the crowd for my date and friends, but I noticed a lot of men looking at me. I was confused. Toilet paper on shoe? Dress tucked into pantyhose? I looked for some sort of confirmation in the wall of upturned faces and noticed a local newswoman staring up at me with absolute hatred. Her face was pitted in a way I’d never noticed on tv, and hatred made her ugly. Why did she hate me? I continued to scan the crowd, found my date, and watched the men’s faces turn towards my date with some disbelief. Ha! So much for his khakis and sweater and disapproval!

He dropped me off after the theater, but didn’t come in. My brother was living with me at the time and joked that something was wrong when I couldn’t “get lucky looking like that!” There was a mirror over the mantle, and I examined myself in it. I had an absolute consciousness that I was peaking at that very instant. It was never going to get better than this, and I’d probably never wear velvet again. Everyone should know what it feels like to be the belle of the ball, at least once. At the same time, I also felt some loss. I hadn’t understood that I looked pretty good up till that point, and now it was going to all go downhill.

Having just lived through another birthday, with the usual inventory of my wrinkles and other signs of inevitable decline, I’ve had to face my vanity. I’m not 29 anymore, but I’m not 80 yet either, and I have at least one very excellent memory. That memory keeps me a little warmer inside when I walk past a mirror and notice that I haven’t combed my hair today and my sweatshirt has a new smear of paint on the front. Internally, I’m still the wolf child.

For the record, I also have some artistic vanity, and don’t like posting my art with one of the masters, especially when I whipped this little painting out this afternoon and Sargent spent considerably more time on his masterpiece.

“How can anybody learn anything from an artwork when the piece of art only reflects the vanity of the artist and not reality?” ~ Lou Reed

Friday, November 11, 2011


“Silent” seems appropriate for my time of continued computer disaster. My friend John has rigged me up to the internet again, but it’s routed through my friend Korki’s old laptop. The laptop is not happy about the things I ask of it, so I’m keeping communications to the bare minimum with continued hopes that John will be able to rescue my hard drive and all those files I neglected to back up. He’s put in a lot of hours trying to help and I’m very grateful, and grateful to Korki for the loaner too. Forced inaction has led me to painting rocks, and there can’t be anything more silent than rocks. It’s an obsessive thing. Maybe I just want the stability they represent? In a way, rocks are a meditative subject for me. I don’t have to think very hard about what they look like. It reminds me of the beginning of one of my previous jobs…

I was assigned a quail illustration. I asked the art director where they kept reference photos of such things. They didn’t keep reference photos. Hm. Okay? ‘How am I supposed to draw it if I didn’t know what it looks like?” “You know what it looks like. ‘Real artists’ don’t need reference.” UH?!! What does a quail look like anyway? Grr… I did a search online, printed a very crappy reference photo, and growled through my painting. This was the first phase of the next couple of weeks where I said at least 30 or 40 times a day “I’m losing my f***ing mind!” It wasn’t a good start to a miserable job, but I was getting paid to paint, so I kept my swearing inside, to be vented in full steam to my friends on the phone when I got home.

Next assignment was a bow. I got a piece of ribbon, tied a bow, and sustained the almost continual criticism from the AD about how I was weak for needing reference. He stood over my shoulder and remarked about almost every color choice, every brush stroke. “Don’t you have your own work to do?” I smiled at him through clenched teeth. When I dropped my brush, he said it was because I held my paintbrush too lightly, and started to demonstrate the proper way for me to hold it. I picked up my brush, slammed it on my desk, and near tears, stormed into the big boss' office. “I can’t work this way!” By this time, I knew that the big boss and the AD screamed at each other at least 3 times a week, so I knew I had an ally. “Ignore him. Learn what you can from him, and ignore the rest.”

After taking a break outside for a silent primal scream, I went back to the office I shared with the AD, and resumed painting. He wanted birds painted without reference? Fine. Cardinals are red, right? Who cares about subtleties or accuracy? Here’s a red bird. Done. Next assignment. French horn? Sure, why not? I dimly remembered that they have 3 or maybe 4 places for fingers, a big bell at the end, and a whole bunch of tubing in between. Done. Who cares if that French horn would sound like a screaming cat if it actually existed? This was all the more ironic for me because in my previous job naturalists held me up arguing about the number of toes a salamander had on its front feet vs. its back feet. (5 and 4.)

In case you can’t tell, I’d rather deal with naturalists arguing over toes than fly blind over quail. Whenever possible, I did research at home before starting new projects in the morning. Eventually I reduced my mental F words to a mere 5 to 10 times a day. I got better, faster, stronger than I had ever been before. Now I feel annoyed when I actually need to take time out of my life to look up reference before starting something. It’s easy to get hooked on the instant gratification of picking up the paintbrush as soon as I have a new thought. Therefore, rocks. No research, and all the effort is in the color and form. It’s a silent meditation of stability.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I wished for more light in my garden. A huge tree fell down. I expressed my dread of new computers. My computer crashed. Obviously, I am all-powerful and inanimate objects bend to my will. I'm starting to think it isn't safe to have random thoughts any more. Let's hope none of my other "scary" ideas manifest any time soon. Through clenched teeth I've already faced more of my scary thoughts, admitting defeat and asking favors, plus generally breaking into uncharacteristic pleas to the deity for successful computer repair.

My poor computer is awaiting life flight and paramedic (thanks John!), so I can't scan anything new for IF this week. So much for my 100 posts celebration last week! I think the universe might be punishing me for something, but I'm not exactly sure what I did to unbalance the delicate tree/computer ecosystem. Um, well, I think maybe I was supposed to vacuum out the insides of my computer once in a while, and I'm real sure I should've backed up my files last week when I thought of it, but that really doesn't explain how I can cause trees to fall down. I'm also feeling the retribution for making fun of vegans and Mom at the moment since John is vegan and I'm borrowing Mom's computer to make this post. Okay, okay!!! I won't tease anybody any more, ever -- well, at least this week. Now I have to find a recipe for lentil cookies or something to express my appreciation to John...

I don't know when I'll be up and running again, so my apologies to everyone since I can't make return visits at the moment.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Scary", Giveaway, & Granola

“Scary” is the furthest thing from my mind today. I want to do my happy dance and sing about 100 posts! Woo hoo! Yay!!! Who knew when I started this blog that I would actually meet my goal of participating in Illustration Friday every week? Or that it would be so much fun to make the posts and find a community of so many interesting people around the world? Blogging is fun. Who wants to think about “scary”?

But let’s see… hm…things to be scared of…

Admitting fears, bugs with too many legs, a damp basement at night, neighbors with guns, public speaking, new computers, second dates, plumbing problems, car problems, pain, asking favors, bills, world chaos, loss, admitting defeat, blood, math problems involving trains going in different directions…

Let’s face it, we’ve all got fears. Your list is probably different than mine, but I bet you agree with at least one of my fears – which just goes to show that one is completely justified. I suppose (said with a heavy sigh), that we’re all supposed to just buck up and face those fears. Grow, live, expand our universe. Sometimes don’t you just want to shake those perpetually happy self-help gurus? Alright, alright… I’ve gotten over my basement thing. Mostly. At least I can manage to do the laundry at night once in a while if I really need that blue shirt tomorrow – but I’ll probably just wear the red shirt.

I suspect we learn all of our fears. That basement thing has got to have something to do with my skinny grandmother, not to be confused with the fat grandma who had preserves and games and a science lab in her basement. The skinny grandma probably had rotting bodies in hers. I wasn’t sure where the pull cord for the light was, and my sister screamed when she stepped on something squishy. It might have been a sock that dropped from the laundry basket, but it might have been a dead body part. Damp, dark basements probably have a lot of those bugs with too many legs too. And the angry ghosts of all those rotting bodies. Yep, completely justified fear, but it’s daytime now, and I don’t need to go to the basement. Life is good.

Thanks to everyone who played, but the congratulations go to Josh Pincus! Visit his blog where he writes interesting biographical sketches about famous people. My niece pulled the winner before her weekly horse riding lesson. I took a very cute picture of her with the horse while she held up Josh’s name, but the camera experienced technical difficulties, so I can’t share the photo with you. Let’s just imagine the moment with this scribble.

Last week I mentioned Mom’s granola, which I admitted is pretty good. She found the recipe, which I assume originally came from Quaker Oats since it’s a printed card instead of the usual handwritten variety. I see she hid sugar and honey in this recipe. No wonder I liked this!

2 ¼ cups Quaker Oats
½ cup instant non-fat dry milk
½ cup sunflower nuts
½ cup coarsely chopped nuts
½ cup wheat germ or unprocessed bran
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup honey
½ cup raisins (optional)

Heat oven to 325F. In large bowl, combine all ingredients except raisins; mix well. Spread into ungreased 15” x 10” jelly roll pan. Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in raisins. Spread onto ungreased cookie sheet or aluminum foil. Cool. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator. Serve as a snack or as a cereal with milk. Makes about 8 cups.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Fuel" & Giveaway!

How am I supposed to write about “fuel” without launching into a lecture about how people should use less of it? That isn’t going to endear me to anyone except Al Gore and people who wear hemp tank tops – and those kinds of people invite me to vegan potlucks. I bet Tea Partiers roast whole animals over open fires and deep fry turkeys and candy bars. At least the vegans come to the party with homemade wine to help me forget that I got a splinter in my lip eating a lentil salad with a bamboo fork.

There are different kinds of fuel, but almost all of them have some sort of problem connected with them. Talking about any of that stuff is a drag, and I don’t have the ability to solve the toxicity issues of batteries or fracking or nuclear waste or deep sea oil drilling. Obviously, the real solution to this week’s Illustration Friday prompt is to talk about food. Not texturized vegetable protein burgers either. You can’t convince me that’s much better than chewing on tree bark, and a portabella mushroom is NOT “just like meat”. It’s a mushroom. It tastes like a mushroom. It doesn’t fill my belly with happiness.

Having been raised by lunatic health freaks, my fuel of choice contains sugar, preservatives, and artificial colors. Mmmmm!! Never again will I swallow cod liver oil or drink a smoothie with raw garlic and yeast. I don’t care if it’s got a banana in it, you can’t convince me that I’m going to live longer or happier for it. Give me a banana Popsicle.

Just to be clear, neither of my parents would’ve been caught dead in a hemp tank top or listened to the Grateful Dead while stoned. They did, however, feed me buckwheat. I’m still resentful. Mom told me she doesn’t think she’s coming off well enough in this blog and requested revisions. I said I thought that was an unfounded accusation (with proofs), and criticism of my free speech makes me ornery and quite likely to write something else that will make her nuts. (Something like calling her a lunatic health freak?) I’ll leave it to the impartial reader whether or not she was virtuous when she made unflavored, organic yogurt, baked granola, and boiled milkweed pods. You’ll have to imagine my screwed up face remembering these things. Okay, the granola was pretty good, but Mom went along with Dad’s crazy idea that we would eat everything Euell Gibbons said was edible. Euell was wrong! I don’t want to eat every part of a pine tree!

(Oh great, now I've got the Grateful Dead stuck in my head. I'm having flashbacks to a cross-country drive with my ex where we only had one tape to play all the way to Yellowstone and all the way back... and this is after I just spent a day with Australian songs in my head thanks to Andrew Finnie.)

Anyway, I suppose this history might explain why I liked doing packaging for confectioners? I especially liked it when the samples came in!

My friend Korki was clearing out her cupboards and gave me a bag of Ramen noodles the other day. A quick glance at the ingredients told me that this was fuel that would never have been permitted in my childhood. I defiantly boiled water with rapt appreciation for the old adage “Better living through chemicals”. Yum. It takes me back to college in a salty, artificial way when Ramen noodles were 5/$1. The problem with this moment of defiance is that I’ll pay penance with lentils or something. As much as I may mock my parents’ food choices, their lessons crept into my subconscious. I can’t eat cookies and ice cream without guilt. I’ll still eat those things, but I’ll eat my broccoli first and hide lentils in my soup.

As this most holy of holidays for sugar-deprived children approaches, I wish you all every sweetness life has to offer!

eeee GIVEAWAY! eeee

I’m offering my first giveaway to celebrate my upcoming 100th post. I really appreciate all of you who stop by to see my posts. All you have to do to be in the drawing is leave a comment and become a follower. (Thanks to all of you who are already following!) The prize will be a set of 4 cards with original watercolors (6 7/8" x 5"), which are shown in detail in last week’s post. The winner will be drawn on Thursday and announced on Friday.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Scattered" and a Giveaway!

Sometimes I feel like I live in Mayberry. I went to school with the same kids grades 1-12. The same kids at church. The same neighbors. One of my childhood pals even went to college with me. I say “Hi” to someone I know most times I’m in downtown Willoughby. They will obligingly give me the latest on everyone I’ve ever known. I swear I don’t do anything interesting enough for people to gossip about, yet they know what I’ve been up to lately, including medical, dating, and job status. Sometimes I feel like screaming, but I guess I’m a cog in the whole pattern. Mom told me about Dave, and I told her about running into him at Kleifelds Restaurant. Aaaargggh! I’m part of the gossip stream. Nooooooo!!!! I’m sorry Dave.

Sometimes it feels like no one ever moves away. If my nephew mentions a pal, I recognize the last name and ask if that guy is So-and-so’s son. Of course he is. Then I can’t resist laughing about what So-and-so did at a party or something. Then I hear about what So-and-so’s son did at a party. I’ll probably repeat this at Kleifelds and hate myself for it. Though just to be clear, I don’t divulge real secrets. Passing on information about births and deaths or somebody’s latest drunk and disorderly arrest isn’t the same thing as airing someone’s private pathos. I’ll take quite a few private confidences to the grave.

Living near where I grew up gives me a sense of belonging to a larger family of often embarrassing relatives, but some people have disappeared and scattered like feathers in the wind. Of course, occasional updates of escapees will crop up. This guy is studying rocks in the desert. These two married and have an overachieving child or maybe a disabled kid. There’s a constant stream of gossip flowing through our collective unconscious.

In the olden days, my girlfriend from grades 1-12 would’ve lived her entire life in the same village. I would’ve gone to her wedding, seen her children and grandchildren grow up, watched her hair turn white, and eventually would’ve gotten buried in the same graveyard. In the real world, I lost track of her after graduation. I called, nervous about how she would remember me when my teenaged self-perception is full of self-recriminations. She was my “good” friend, the friend who stopped my bad behavior with a glance of blue eyes. In fact, I found myself sitting up rather pertly as I tapped her number into my phone. While she is still the “good” girl, within seconds the years fell away. We fast forwarded through the decades and laughed and commiserated about the turns our lives have taken. We learned the secrets of each other’s childhoods which we had both suspected but never discussed when we were actually living them. My heart filled with happiness connecting with her again.

This web of connections is visible when I look at Facebook and LinkedIn. Young faces cascade through my mind in a vivid waterfall. I feel joy when I find an old friend from public school, or college, or an old job. I loved these people, and they took part of my heart when they disappeared across the country or across the world. Collecting them lets me collect parts of myself and to give back parts of them too. It’s too easy to lose ourselves in the process of living and paying bills, and we often don’t see what we’ve lost, or recognize where we should look for those aspects of ourselves.

Finding old friends is a chance to say “You matter to me, and I’ve wished you well through the years.” As we age, we collect our scars and disappointments and lose sight of the fact that our lives have an impact on people we seldom think about any more. Some people I’ve known are doing terrific things. I smile at their postings on Facebook and feel hope for the world.

eeee GIVEAWAY! eeee

In this attitude of gratitude, I’m going to offer my first giveaway to celebrate my upcoming 100th post. Woo hoo!! Just 2 more to go! I really appreciate all of you who stop by to see my posts. All you have to do to be in the drawing is leave a comment in the next two weeks and become a follower. (Thanks to all of you who are already following!) The prize will be a set of 4 cards with original watercolors (6 7/8" x 5"), which are shown in this post.

Friday, October 7, 2011


“Necessity is the mother of invention.” I suspect that you have to be poor at some point in your life to become a true inventor, but some people are just born with an inventive spirit. I went to lunch with Mom today and told her I was having trouble writing this post. It seems like this ought to be a really easy word for me. I make stuff all the time. I just can’t think of anything interesting that I’ve made lately.

Mom says a “contraption” should include moving parts. Ooookay…? I suppose that rules out the brass eagle I turned into a lamp finial or my bookcase – though I did put sliding doors on the bookcase. I told Mom that I’ve made whirligigs, with pantomimed arm movements while I was driving. She told me “pin wheel and put-your-hands-back-on-the-steering-wheel”. Good point. This moved into a wistful memory of Grandpa’s weather vane that we should’ve taken when we moved him from his house and the supposition that Great Grandpa Winter must've invented a lot of contraptions because he was a contraption kind of guy. Uncle John was working on a perpetual motion machine before he died. Maybe this kind of thing runs in families?

People with money just buy the parts they need or hire someone with the right parts and actual knowledge of what to do with them. Poor people come up with different answers. For example, there was a time when I wanted my brothers to fix a lawn tractor. Brother #1 admitted that work was at a stoppage until Brother #2 arrived, took apart a ball point pen, inserted the little spring, waved his magic wand, and the motor began to purr again. I’m pretty sure that taking apart a pen wasn’t written into the owner’s manual.

I admire this kind of cleverness, and I might even have influenced my brother’s alternative solutions to mechanical issues. I had a house with problems when brothers #1 and #2 were little. We spent a lot of happy weekends over projects. Since we didn’t have brawn, I said we needed to think smarter. Pipes won’t come apart? Let’s discuss levers. Let’s discuss fulcrums too or the advantages of a longer lever. Maybe we needed to discuss a &*#*^$% sledge hammer too, but more often we opted for persistence (stubbornness) and teamwork. Our planning sessions were fun and intense. We gained an appreciation for proper tools, which often led to networking and finding someone who would lend them to us – and of course, tools are always a good excuse for garage sales.

These ads have been sitting in a box for a long time without any real reason for their existence any more, and the sewer rings were cleverness along the lines of ballpoint pen springs. Prior to this innovation, the ring that held sewer lids in the street were a set made of solid cast iron. There wasn’t a standard size for sewer lids, so if you needed to replace the ring, you had to custom cast it, which was expensive and difficult. Making an adjustable ring meant easier and less expensive road repairs. Sewer lid technology may have grown by leaps and bounds since I did these, but at the time, I was pleased to get the chance to do illustrations for a big art studio. Cleveland is an industrial kind of town, so I didn’t get to paint cute little bunnies very often – though I can show you endless how-to illustrations of hands holding wrenches, paint brushes, paint rollers, utility knives… Hey, if nothing else, ya gotta admit that’s a great tire!

Friday, September 30, 2011


I have cycles, and sometimes those cycles require crawling into my den and hibernating. Sometimes I feel like a bear sleeping away the winter, and sometimes I feel like I'm hidden in my cocoon turning into a butterfly. Hibernating lets me rest and heal from my last burst of interaction with the world.

I’ve been on some employer-enforced retreats too, but it’s hardly an actual “retreat” when you take all of your coworkers and bosses with you. We shivered in cold cabins and bonded over flip charts while trying to make left-brained people understand the point of brainstorming without footnotes. Really, couldn’t we all bond much more effectively over dinner and drinks in a warm restaurant? I’m not quite sure why upper management guys seem to think climbing on ropes suspended on telephone poles is a good idea.

For all that, I’ve enjoyed work retreats. I’m a good camper and enjoy helping the camping-impaired survive campfire songs and toasted marshmallows. I like this kind of thing so much that I managed a retreat center for a year when I told my then-husband to getmethehelloutofIndianaand BACK TO OHIO any way possible. I made bouquets of flowers for the cabins, brushed away the spiders and chipmunk nests, and had some wine by the campfire – then retreated to my house with central heating. Good times. It was kind of like Girl Scout camp for adults, and I got to live in 130 acres of pristine woods overlooking the Grand River, one of two rivers designated “wild” and “scenic” in Ohio. (The other river with that designation is the Chagrin, where I spent my childhood.)

This retreat center is a rich man’s folly/tax write off. He is blind, so if you look closely in the photos, there are posts strung with rope along all the paths. This was a help to him, but also for the groups of blind kids who came out to catch their first fish. Blind kids fishing isn’t exactly a safe activity, but we all survived the flying fish hooks. My lifeguard skills came in handy for the double pools too, because a lot of those kids didn’t know much about swimming. I wanted to wrap some of those kids in bubble wrap during their visits. When guest-free, I liked to float around on my back in those pools at night and listen to the owls hooting in the surrounding woods. Blissed out.

The bell tower bonged every 15 minutes and chimed out every hour. I hated 12 o’clock. Bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bonggggggggg… (Ironically, I currently live by Catholic seminary's bell tower.) The owner said he had his first wife’s skeleton in the basement of the tower, but I checked and it's a plastic skeleton. What's real is the 1500’s executioner’s sword mounted on the wall. You can tell it’s an executioner’s sword because it doesn’t have a point. There’s no reason for a point when you’re cutting off heads. The rest of the bell tower is a vertical art museum. I found that a bit ironic for a blind guy, but he also has a 4 foot tall jade mermaid in there which he can appreciate by touching. It’s a gorgeous sculpture, but very few people get to appreciate it since the tower is locked almost all of the time.

Managing a retreat center was actually quite a bit of work, so when I had the opportunity to move across the street to 100 acres of pristine woods without responsibilities, I jumped at the chance. That place became my actual retreat, and I came out of an artistic hibernation with a prodigious burst of paintings and a new style.

For those of you who read my last post, a big maple tree came down in my yard this week. I got out loppers, clippers, and a bow saw and dismantled the crown on my own. When my next door neighbor John Jr. came out, I offered him firewood for labor, and he came over with a chainsaw. When the tree bested his chainsaw, he recruited another neighbor with a bigger chainsaw. I heaved logs over the fence in a very messy pile while John Sr. filled me in on neighborhood gossip and the evils of government. There’s still quite a bit of tree on the ground, 15 foot long x 5 foot high, but it’s raining and I’m spending time inside with my Epsom salts. Maybe I can get some wet wood to burn in the fireplace?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The angel in charge of my prayer requests has a wicked sense of humor. At various times throughout the summer I have thought:

I want more exercise and fresh air
I’d like to see more of my brother Peter
I’d like my garden to get more sunshine
I don’t want the deer to eat my apples
I wish I had more wood to make a better deer barricade…

I think you can see the general train of my thoughts here. I didn’t realize that wishing for a better garden was going to result in a mature silver maple tree squashing the garden flat. Amazingly, even though an 11 foot circumference tree fell on my cultivations, I think my tomatoes and butternut squash survived the angels’ joke. It's a whole 'nother level of watching leaves fall in autumn!

Click on Marv Newland's art (or here) for a movie classic :)

Friday, September 23, 2011


I decided to clean up my neighborhood for the first Earth Day. I got bags from Mom and picked up trash along the side of the road. I was told it was useless, you can’t change human nature, people will just throw more trash after it’s clean. My childish self asserted that people would see that life is better without the trash and would keep it clean. Everyone laughed at me. I’m a ferocious trash picker upper. (Outside anyway. Not so much inside.) I left the bags next to the side of the road so everyone could see how much garbage they were throwing away. Guilt started to seep in. Mom was only willing to sacrifice one box of garbage bags to my environmental concerns, so I brazenly knocked on the neighbors’ door and asked for more trash bags. Guilt hit a new level. Neighbors started picking up trash before I got to them. The Glen is trash free.

Years later, I walked in the woods and found the remnants of a beer party. I started collecting bottles for recycling. After I filled a very large bag, I hauled it to a front porch full of guilty beer drinkers and threw the box of trash bags at them. “I picked up one bag of trash, but this is your mess. Clean it up!” About 10 guilty young men looked at each other and trooped down to the woods with the trash bags.

This year, Penny and I have been taking walks in our current neighborhood for exercise. This got pretty dull, so I combined recycling with our walks and started collecting recyclables en route. Penny thought this was an improvement in our walks because she had more time to smell bushes and pee on things. I thought it was an improvement because I did more bending – but now we don’t have any more trash to pick up. The guilt factor seems to have kicked in amongst these neighbors too.

Some things are clearly right or clearly wrong. People know better than to throw trash out of their car windows. They learned this in kindergarten. Everyone feels better when the neighborhood is litter-free. It was true when I was 9 and it’s still true.

I think about people’s comments before I picked up my first trash bag. “You can’t change things… human nature… nobody cares…” I still hear these messages. We’ve let the littering bullies rule the world. Big businesses blow up mountain ranges for coal and pollute streams and drinking water. Fracking for natural gas without regulations destroys more water. The Chinese have turned their air into a toxic solid…

But we can do things. Think about all those plastic bottles I’ve picked up. Each bottle is made from oil in a faraway country which is shipped halfway around the world so you can drink NYC tap water with a fancy label while toxic chemicals may leach into the water you’re drinking. Oil for your bottle contributes to wars in the Middle East and pollution in the oceans. Even if the bottle gets recycled, it’s probably shipped back around the world to India where the reclamation process spews more chemicals in the air. So, if you want to do one decent thing for the world, quit drinking water in plastic bottles. Put your glass under the kitchen faucet and think about saving the world one plastic bottle at a time.

This art was created for my city’s initial recycling program. I have to admit I was kind of dumbfounded when they gave me a plaque, and it’s been sitting on a book shelf for 21 years because I can’t throw it away, but didn’t know what to do with it either. I also got the city and county park system to use recycled paper with soy-based inks. Obviously my ferocity about recycling isn’t a new thing.

Treat the earth well.
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.
-- American Indian proverb

PS – I was asked recently about how artists can get printed samples for their portfolios without working for a pittance. This brochure is a good example. I didn’t get paid for it, but I was happy to do it because it was for a good cause. And I got a plaque :) I had plenty of pieces for my portfolio when I did this, so my main object was making an inexpensive, clearly understood brochure. If you’re doing something for the printed portfolio piece, flex your creative skills through volunteering.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I grew up near a large Italian family. I’m pretty sure they had even more children than we did, but they had an unfortunate genetic weakness making all of their kids some variation of blind. It seemed sad to me that they would never be mesmerized watching the ripples in the river, the vultures circling on invisible air currents, or so many other things that occupied most of my existence. I remember holding my breath as the mother led dinner preparation, but everyone cut up vegetables while maintaining their fingers. To tell the truth, I usually bled a lot more in the kitchen than they did. They seemed like a pretty happy family, and the kids walked around The Glen every evening after supper with their hands glued together in a long string of cheerful paper dolls.

I asked them once how they managed to get around without running into trees or getting lost. The oldest boy told me everything has a cushion of air around it. If you pay attention, you can stop before getting hit in the face. I found that fascinating, and since I had nothing else to do, decided to experiment. I folded up a washcloth for thickness and wrapped a bandanna over it, tying the whole thing around my head, covering my eyes so completely I couldn’t see any light through the fabric. I put on my shoes and tied them. Tying shoes becomes a very different experience when you can’t see.

I fumbled my way to the front door and adventured into a very different world. The birds sang louder, probably warning every other living creature to stay out of my way. I felt with my feet for the steps down the porch and steered in the general direction of where the road ought to be. When I hit the crunch of gravel on the edges, I picked a direction and started walking. It wasn’t too hard to stay on the road because it felt different to my feet than the grassy weeds on the sides. A car came by, and I did the obligatory wave. I’m sure whoever was driving waved back and probably laughed at me. Didn’t matter. I was determined to make it around The Glen without dying or cheating.

The road in The Glen is a 1-mile squared circle, or maybe a rounded square. All I had to do is keep track of the corners to know how far I had gone. I felt a little embarrassed when I passed the blind family’s house, but it wasn’t like they were going to see me, and I persevered. It felt like a lot further than usual when I couldn’t see my destination. The sun was hot and my stomach was reminding me about suppertime, but I made it home, made it up the porch steps, and slumped in the chair where my adventure had begun.

I was trying to untie the knot in the bandanna when Dad asked me to explain. I told him about my inspiration and experiment, and he laughed and said it was great. It would be even better if I kept the bandanna on for 24-hours. Uhhh, “But Dad, I’m tired!” Too bad. He thought I should “See it through” to get the full experience. “I won’t be able to wash dishes.” When I got excused from dishes that night, I might’ve considered staying blindfolded for a week or two. I tentatively ate dinner and cursed peas for rolling around so much.

24-hours included going to sleep blind. I was disoriented when I woke up, but it didn’t take too long to remember my predicament. I dressed and escaped to the river. The blind boy was right. There is a cushion of air around everything. I wandered across the field with my hands out and felt the grasses. When I got to the other side of the field, I felt the trees. I backed up repeatedly to figure out the maximum distance I could feel the air. I laid on my back and listened to a mouse rustling through the weeds.

When Dad came home from work, I was liberated. The world was unbearably bright, and I had to shield myself until I adjusted to normal living. I’m not sure if Dad was inspired or sadistic in this story, maybe both, but the experience was important to me. First lesson was to hide my experiments from Dad, but I also learned the power of my own underestimated senses. I feel things more acutely with my hands. I don’t have to look at my feet when I’m walking through the woods. I understand the birds. I appreciate the roundness of peas, and maybe most importantly, I appreciate being able to be mesmerized by all things visual.