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

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Sunday, February 24, 2013


When I recently took over as boss, I told the women in the office that they didn’t have to whisper their criticisms of me.  Go ahead and talk.  I can’t hear you anyway.  They laughed and said they already knew that.

We were joking, but whispers quite honestly piss me off.  I can’t hear them, and whispering feels like something someone is doing to torment me.  1 in 5 Americans have hearing loss in one ear, and 1 in 8 have it in both ears.  

No, I didn’t go to a bunch of rock concerts, and it isn’t my fault.  I’m not a leper; I’d just appreciate it if you’d get my attention before speaking and speak facing me.  Hearing aids are expensive, aren’t covered by insurance, and mostly amplify background noise.  Maybe I’ll get them someday, but that day hasn’t come.

It’s an isolating, invisible disability.  It’s like I’m supposed to have a red X on my forehead indicating that I’m not making it up, but I don’t look any different than anyone else.  Some people just don’t understand when I say “speak up!” “sorry?” “what?” “say again?”  “huh?” “would you repeat that?” 

Last time I checked, I’m operating on about half of normal hearing, with loss in both ears.  I had an interesting exam where I was supposed to repeat words a woman said.  I have to hear words in context to get the meaning of things, and random words are impossible for me, especially when I couldn’t see the woman’s mouth.  “Bike” could be anything.  Diet, bat, bad, bite, dog, cat?  Is this multiple choice?  The testing woman’s eyes expressed surprise, disappointment, and incredulity.  My frustration level went up, and I failed the test in flames.

I failed my first hearing test in 3rd grade.  It was the first test I had ever taken that I hadn’t aced.  My parents discussed it in the living room, and I have no idea what they said.  Murmur, murmur, murmur was something I was used to hearing, but now I knew that wasn’t normal.  I was defective, and did everything in my power to hide that from regular, untainted people.

Okay, sometimes I give myself a pity party when the ringing in my head is too loud, or I can’t hear the sweet nothings a lover whispers in my ear, or I missed the punchline of a joke, but mostly I cope.  Everybody’s got something they have to deal with, and I suppose we’ll all have more stuff to deal with as we get older.  All I ask is please speak up!

Despite my religious job, I like non-religious hymns, and I figure this is a good one no matter what spiritual pursuits you follow.  Besides, this is one I can actually plunk out on a piano.  It’s by Clara H. Scott (1841-1897).  Somehow I remember my Sunday school class singing this with a lot more gusto than I can find on youtube…

Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wavenotes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear
gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart and let me prepare
love with thy children thus to share.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Sunday, February 17, 2013


There’s a sign on the edge of the town where I grew up that says “Where the city meets the country”.  That was true when I was a kid.  Working farms used to be mixed amongst the homes nestled behind trees.  I could climb a tree and drop onto a cow’s back for a thrilling ride across a pasture.  I could feed horses hard green apples and listen to illegal migrant workers speaking Mexican in the field.

Sometimes I’m aware that the kind of variety I grew up with is unusual.  I was both a city and a country kid.  I knew wealthy people and poor people.  I got to milk a goat and I got to go to the art museum.  It seems like most other people live either by farms or they live by the city, but not both.  Considering that I really didn’t know very many people at all, the variety I got to experience seems pretty remarkable.

The farms I knew weren’t like today’s farms.  The farms I knew were mostly tax write-offs for the super-rich, or hobby farms for people who felt like dabbling, or a spattering of working farms of a couple hundred acres or less.  Raising sheep seems like a luxury.  It’s not like they’re eaten very much around here.  They’re raised for wool, and since nobody actually needs wool any more, making something from it means you’ve got enough leisure for a hobby, but it’s the kind of hobby that comes from being raised to think you need to do something productive.  Knitting for pleasure seems like a middle class kind of activity.

I used to like watching sheep getting sheared.  They didn’t seem to enjoy it too much though.  Ba-aaaah!  I can do an awesome sheep bleat imitation.  It’s one of my many skills that seem underappreciated by anyone except small children.  I do an awesome cow too.

I have picked burrs out of the wool, carded it, even spun some of it.  I didn’t have to do any of it.  I was just bored and lonely, and rubbing down a freshly shorn sheep made me laugh.  Sometimes I think that all those things I did when I was bored and lonely were gifts that so many other people don’t know they’ve missed.  There’s something good and happy about haying a field when you don’t actually have to do it.  I was just helping because I could and because I enjoyed laughing with the group.

Sometimes I feel like I should write about things like this because they’re from an era that doesn’t exist anymore.  They didn’t even really exist in my own time.  I was just lucky to be in a place where time and money allowed my little pocket of the world to exist a little longer than it did anywhere else.

I hooked this rug when I was young.  I’ll admit that it’s craft more than art, but I put a lot of time into it, and it is made out of wool.  It just seems fair to show it off at least once.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

3 Years!!!

Happy anniversary to me!… Happy anniversary to me!…

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been blogging for 3 years.  Who’d a’thunk I’d find so much stuff to talk about or so many stray pieces of art to find or make?  And just to show that the world celebrates with me whether they know it or not, happy birthday to Brian, Paula, Bernice, Diane, Jesse, Ellie, and everybody else who has a birthday around now (with my apologies if I’m forgetting somebody), and happy Ash Wednesday to those who honor that, and happy Valentine’s Day to everybody else!

Sunday, February 10, 2013


I know the east coast is fussing about snow storms, but my attention has been on people storms lately.  Sudden changes always cause disruption in the usual order of business, and there’s nothing quite like the boss dying suddenly to stir up the pot.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s been less than a month since the world turned upside down.  I know things will settle down again, but I wish it would settle a bit quicker.

Sometimes I’m reminded that grownups aren’t all that different from children.  When we’re babies, we cry and someone feeds us.  Anything we want, all we have to do is cry and someone comes running.  All we have to do is smile once in a while at our adult slaves.  It’s a perfect system.

Some people never grow out of this reward system, and the older people get, the more tools they have to annoy the rest of us into obedience.  This has often put me in the role of teaching limits of adult patience and cooperation, but I have 4 younger brothers and I used to be a substitute teacher in middle school.  Want to test my ability to withstand a storm?  Go ahead.  Try me.

One time, I took my niece to the mall.  I didn’t realize it was the first time she’d been to a mall, and I had forgotten about all those things at kid level designed to make adults insane.  “I want!  I want!” started increasing in decibels.  I let her play one of those stupid claw machines.  I told her in advance that the game is rigged, but she wanted to play, and I let her.  Then she wanted to play it again.  “No, I don’t think so.  Let’s go to the park.”

We had this, ahem, “discussion” in one of those wide echoing hallways where every old lady walks past.  Screaming bloody murder wasn’t achieving my niece’s stated goal so she threw herself on the terrazzo floor and repeatedly kicked the machine and screamed a lot more.

“Is everything alright??” “Yes, everything’s fine” I answered every scandalized mall-walker.  After a while, I quit looking embarrassed and apologetic.  If every parent would have this showdown with their kids, the rest of us wouldn’t have to be putting up with their tantrums.  In fact, they should just get it over with quick, when the kids are still small enough to pick up and haul out to the parking lot, which sadly, was not the case with my niece.  I waited it out.

In another conversation on the brink of another storm my niece demanded that I spend my hard-earned money on something I didn’t want to buy.  “You can afford it!!”  “Why yes, I can.  That’s not the point.  It’s not good for you to get everything you want.  You’ll end up spoiled.”  She didn’t understand “spoiled” so I reminded her of Grandma’s compost pile of rotten apples.  “Do you want to be like that?”  “No-ooo…?”

Don’t get me wrong, I spent plenty on indulging this kid, and I gave her plenty of love.  We had a lot of fun spending our quarters at garage sales and eating out at restaurants.  After a while she learned how to plan her indulgences, and we didn’t have any more storms.  She learned she didn’t have to have everything, but she could have a lot.

Same rules apply to grownups, but sometimes I swear I need Valium and headphones.  And no, nobody has been actually screaming and kicking arcade games lately.  It just feels like it sometimes.  I want the new normal to kick in any time now.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I adored my great grandpa.  I sat next to him and held his old man hand, absorbing his pleasure that I liked to sit next to him and hold his gnarled hand.  I was unselfconscious about my childish self being a delight to an old man.  I was just delighted that I got to sit next to him with maximum body contact and listen to him talk about whatever he wanted to talk about, which seemed to be a lot about chickens and nuts and flowers and things.  I liked to look at him and see the countless ages on his face, while I suppose he liked to look at my as yet unlived complexion.

I don’t know that he told me anything spectacular.  It didn’t matter.  I just wanted to be with him.  By the time I knew him, he was kind of parked places.  Here’s the couch, or here’s the rocker, or here’s a corner of a bench.  That made him an easy target for my touching and attention needs.

I don’t want it to sound like I was an entirely passive child that never liked to romp around.  I had my uncle for that, and I suppose Grandpa smiled when I rastled around and screamed when tickled.  My uncle let me climb all over him and be as rambunctious as I liked, but I always went back to Great Grandpa.  I liked to be gentle with him, and he liked being gentle with me.

Since Grandpa was older than Moses, I didn’t have him very long, and when I ended up with some of his possessions, I treasured them because they still felt like him.  I could still hear his voice in my head when I wound up the old clock with the glow in the dark radioactive numbers and snuggled in his giant bed with the wicker headboard.

Somehow, I don’t think Grandpa would’ve minded that I decided to take that old clock apart to see how it worked.  He probably would’ve encouraged my curiosity as I carefully laid out each piece as I unscrewed them, certain to place them in order so I would be able to put them all back together again.  Success!  The wheels whirred perfectly when it was a clock again.  I could feel Grandpa smiling in the afterlife.

I still don’t know how clocks work though.  All those wheels go around and make things move, but it’s still a mystery.  I think I’d like to meet a real human being who actually does understand how a clock works – or maybe I don’t.  Maybe the world is a better place when things like clocks remain mysteries?  Clocks are probably made by dwarves hidden in mountains when they aren’t making magic swords or something.

My younger brother thought he was smart and tried to upstage my clock assembly victory, but his reassembly was a failure.  The clock never worked again.  He did the same thing to my bicycle.  That brother shouldn’t be allowed around mechanical things, especially my mechanical things.  He is not to be confused with another of my brothers who fixed my lawnmower with the spring from a ballpoint pen.  Apparently the gift of mechanical genes is an uneven gift in my family.

In case you’re wondering about my new reality at work, I’ve got to say I’m tired.  Every time I clear off a bit of my desk, new paper appears.  New emails show up as quick as I can read and delete them.  I did get a spectacular dinner out with one of my printers, and a couple fun brainstorming meetings, but that just generated more emails and paper on my desk.  Everyone tells me things will calm down and I’ll do fine.  I’ve decided to believe them until it becomes true.