I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
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Friday, December 26, 2014

"Home" 2

The big day is over and the garbage truck has already come and taken away the ripped up wrapping paper and turkey bones.  I thought I'd take a moment to look back in the splinter of time before the new year and my new broken resolutions.  This is a stretch for "home", but Illustration Friday didn't give me a new word for the week -- which is a real shame since I had a day off and could've spent some time on it.

I've done an index like this every year since I started blogging.  The original idea being that I needed a way to glance back at what I'd posted, then it just seemed like a good idea and I continued doing it.  Though to be perfectly honest I didn't keep up with it this year, which meant that I had to go back through a year of posts to pick up all my thumbnails.

It was a good way to spend the day.  2014 at a glance seems like a really long year, but I had some good moments along the way.  I took trips and saw important people I hadn't seen in too long of a time.  I made some new art, some of which I'm really proud of making.  I had some insights, relived some memories, enjoyed my friends, got through work irritations.  That's all life.

We all do some variation of the same kinds of things within a year, but I think we mostly go through the steps unconsciously, just doing and living without really taking stock of any of it all that much.  Individual days just aren't that important or exciting.  Yet that's all our lives are, isn't it?  A long series of uninteresting days which are hopefully pleasant enough to make our lives generally enjoyable.

I guess I'm starting to understand a little of the themes that I've blogged?  Individual days, past or present, that are easily overlooked and forgotten.  But within those days, there's something which makes that day matter.  We just have to make them memorable or important in order to keep learning and growing. 

Today I had lunch with Tim.  I told him about the idjit at another restaurant who fell apart when I gave $20.05 for a bill of $10.03.  The manager had to handle the transaction since I wanted a 10 dollar bill and 2 pennies instead of a mess of change and small bills.  After Tim and I laughed about the past idjit, today's cashier tried to give me the wrong change three times.  The humor wasn't lost on Tim.  The manager had to take over the cash register at this restaurant too.

See it's a little thing, but I could write a whole post about people lacking basic math skills, America's dismal education, the fact that we let people like this vote -- or I can laugh.  All those little moments are opportunities to decide whether or not we're going to be happy people, and we get those moments all the time.

But I gotta admit 2014 was a hard year.  Too many deaths, too many challenges, and I'm glad it's over.  Looking forward to 2015!!  Wishing everyone a good year!!

Friday, December 19, 2014


I wrote about my house last week.  Maybe I should’ve talked about it as “home”?  It’s definitely lived in.  I have great plans to clean it this weekend too.  I’ll see what actually gets done by Monday.

I don’t know if I think of my house as my home most of the time.  This is where I live and keep all my stuff.  Having lived here a long time, I do have memories of cooking holiday dinners for family, puppies piddling on my floors, my little brothers curled up on the couch watching Disney movies – back when they were actually little and still cuddled up to each other.

I had a deep need for a home when I was a young adult, maybe a deeper need than any of my peers.  I need a place that’s mine, a place to rest between my interactions with the world.  A friend of mine always wants to travel and views his apartment as a place to be in between trips.  We’re at opposite sides of a spectrum – but he relishes his trips to his sister’s house during holidays.  That gives him enough of a center.  We all need a safe place where we belong, even if it’s not our own place.

My grandparents provided that kind of oasis.  In a discussion with my siblings, all of us said we felt loved, and none of us claimed that we felt loved more than anyone else.  The kitchen always smelled of good things, and Grandpa gave us ice cream and Vernor’s.  The rules were clear and sane, and we were encouraged to play.

We played Rook at the dining room table in the evenings, which according to Wikipedia is a card game “played with a specialized deck of cards. Sometimes referred to as "Christian cards" or "missionary poker"… introduced by Parker Brothers in 1906 as an alternative for those in the Puritan tradition or Mennonite culture who considered face cards in a regular deck inappropriate because of their association with gambling and cartomancy."

Well, I learn new things every day.  It makes perfect sense though.  Grandma was from an area of Ohio with a lot of Amish and Mennonites.  Even though she wasn’t one of them, she was pretty straight-laced Christian, though not in any kind of irritating way.

Anyway, the quiet evenings of pleasant cards and tea is a part of my life, a place where I felt home.  The candy dish was always full, my uncle always had new projects to try, and the sheets on the bed were always crisp and soft.  The soap smelled of roses and the quiet rustle of fabric was loud in the quiet.  I can still hear Grandma laughing and Grandpa chuckling.

“Over the river and through the woods, to Gramma’s house we go!” And the long drive we took every month passed quickly enough because we knew the drive was worth it.

Whatever your beliefs, wherever you’re going during the holidays, I wish for you a place that you find special with people you love.  And if you can’t have these things this year, may you have memories that keep you warm.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2014


I wrote a post this morning when I was fresh as a daisy and eager for the day.  Now I’m trying to work up energy to take a bath.  The earlier post just doesn’t feel as pertinent any more.

The original idea had to do with the sea of leaves in my backyard with hopes that my brother Pete would blow them away.  That didn’t happen.  He started the lawnmower and set me to mulching the damned things while I cursed my younger self for teaching him about self-sufficiency and female empowerment.  My hands are bruised from the stupid mower and I worked up a sweat while freezing to death.  You wouldn’t know it from these photos, but it’s a big backyard.  Mulching took hours.  I’m thinking of letting the back 40 reforest.

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Peter came over with his bud Dave to take down a couple of trees.  One was dead, the other growing way too enthusiastically too close to the house.  The gas company came out and ripped up the front of my yard fixing gas leaks recently.  I’m not sure if the gas leaks killed the birch tree and nearly killed a rhododendron, but any way you look at it, my front yard is a mess.  My house looks blank without the trees.

This is where I think I ought to be good at landscaping, but I’m not.  Just because I’m an artist with some creative ability doesn’t mean I’m good at this.  My goals are simple enough.  I want the birds to hop around in shrubs or trees just outside my windows.  If the replacement flora provides food for me and/or birds, even better, and pretty flowers, best yet.  Oh yeah, and no weeding.  I want a perpetual garden without effort.

The front yard is tiny, so I think this should all be possible, or it would be possible if I knew how to put it together.  I suppose that’s why somebody planted rhododendrons and pachysandra there in the first place.

I’ve been in this house a long time.  It was my 5-year plan to get $ together enough to buy a real house.  I was renting a 1-bedroom apartment in a haunted Willoughby house for $350/mo when I decided I might as well pay a mortgage and have something to show for it after a while.

5 years came and went, but I was comfortable.  I moved to another state for a while and let some friends move in.  I came back when I got divorced and was really glad to have a home to come back to, especially when I hear what other people pay for mortgages and property taxes.

I got laid off the day the realtor gave me the keys, and spent the first day in my house crying in the basement because I didn’t know how I’d be able to keep it.  Hard work, sacrifice, and a lot of scrimping, but I kept it.  Now I own it.  The letter came from the bank one day, and I felt prouder than you can imagine.

I suppose this post is a stretch for “sea”, but whether it’s a sea of leaves or a sea of debt, or any other kinds of seas, this is my little bit of world where I am the queen of my universe.  I could point out that I’m 2 miles from Lake Erie as the crow flies, and that’s an inland sea.

Peter wouldn’t cooperate with blog photos today, but thanks to him and Dave today!!  BTW, both Dave and Pete are available and have useful skills.  Any takers?

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Solstice is coming!  Yay!  Hey, we’ve all got to look for the light when things aren’t all sunshine and puppies.  I’m not going to share any more bad news this week.  This blog is supposed to be a happy place.

I watched friends hang lights on their house.  I even helped plug them in and kept my usual bah humbug wasting fossil fuels thoughts to myself.  Surely nobody could hope for more out of me on the dark side of solstice. The consolation is that this is the season for cookies.  One of my vendors even gave my office a big box of chocolates yesterday.  Sue decorated the office with dancing, singing stuffed animals.

Forgetting about the current mass murder of pine trees, only 15 more days and winter begins and the days start getting longer.  If you want seasonal cheer, go to Jane’s blog.  She has the right attitude and even makes me less seasonally temperamental with her real commitment to celebrating Christmas.

I grew up getting underwear and socks for Christmas, and nobody has to tell a kid those are sucky presents.  (Mom sputtering and protesting in the background about being fiscally responsible...)

Moccasins were the best gift I received.  Dad (who never bought gifts) bought them for me before he died.  I held the present unopened for a long time, coping with grief, disbelief, and fears of disappointment.  I wore those moccasins for years.

Gifts can be so many things, and I often feel that we’ve gone from white cotton underwear to extreme excess.  We buy things out of guilt and obligation.  Kids barely look at one gift before they’re ripping into the next, almost everything left on the floor, forgotten and unappreciated.  Yet gifts can be like moccasins too, warming our heart long after the leather has worn out.

I want to give “moccasins” to people.  I want to share the feeling that I’m glad people are in my life.  Then I go to stores and find that there’s nothing meaningful in any of it, or the stores just don’t understand my giving needs.  It tires me to think of shopping.  So much for the clich├ęs that women like to shop.  Some women enjoy it.  I’d rather stay in and finish reading my latest book.

Which by the way is the last in the “Game of Thrones” series by George R. R. Martin.  I’ll give a conditional recommendation.  Too violent for me, but it is a good story if you like heroic fantasy.  An unqualified recommendation is for Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss which I absolutely loved.  Maybe I’ll give books this Christmas?  What books did you like this year?

In case you can’t tell, I’m trying to work up the energy to go shopping and jolly myself into the holiday season without shooting out speakers playing Christmas music.  I’ll get through the spending, wrapping, and baking.  I like parties and camaraderie.  I’ll enjoy myself despite myself once I force myself into the spirit.

Are you like Jane or me during the holidays?

Sunday, November 30, 2014


We used to hold hands and spin in circles on the playground until we couldn’t hold on any more and wobbled around before falling down and laughing.  There was a push-action metal top at Grandpa’s house.  I sent it wobbling across the floor over and over and over.  He had a gyroscope too.  I stacked blocks until they wobbled and crashed down all over the floor.  The word for the week makes me think of a lot of wobbling play, not the least of which is learning to ride my too-big bike on a tar and chip road.  I’ve still got the scars.

Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”  My little brothers loved Weebles and we sang that a lot.

Sometimes I wish life were still so simple.  I woke up thinking about work problems, then the fact that I have to drink 32 oz. of water in an hour this week for a medical test, and then I remembered that Mickey died on Friday.  Life sucks.  That’s 3 people for me in November, so if deaths really go by 3s then I guess I’m done?

I don’t know if I feel physically wobbly from all the stresses, but I feel emotionally wobbly.  Or maybe just bone tired from dealing with life and funerals.  I’d rather sit on the floor with the jacks my sister got me for my birthday.  1s… 2s… 3s… start over, 1s… 2s…

I played jacks a lot when I was a kid which is why she gave them to me now.  Life wasn’t perfect then, but the simple act of counting and bouncing was a calm in the storm.  Sometimes I would count before going to sleep and wake up in the morning still counting.

Sometimes I wonder if other people ever learned to calm themselves?  There was a time that my niece was having a fit and struggled to breathe between tears.  I put her on my lap and told her to ignore the instigators.  Breathe!  A ragged sob inward.  Good.  Do it again!  A slightly less ragged inward sob.  I rocked her back and forth and kept reminding her to breathe between new sobs of the unjust world.  She finally got herself together and then the instigators had to start up again, but at least she found that she had the power to control herself.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I have that same power.  Unclench my jaw and fists and breathe.  Tomorrow hasn’t happened yet, nothing I can do about the past, just breathe.  Remember the happy times when Mickey came through the door 40 years ago, all smiles and handsomeness, ravioli, back step talks while we marginally watched the grill or maybe the kids in the back yard.  Little moments, but important to my feelings of acceptance and affection.

I baked cookies from the recipe Sharon sent me.  I’m pretty sure ginger, cocoa, and sugar solve at least some problems.  Thanks Sharon!  Cookies will go great with the post-Thanksgiving soup I made yesterday.  Today I’ll help make 200 meatballs for the post-funeral lunch.

And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the people who have made my life better.  Perhaps all these funerals are a reminder to appreciate all the important people who have already passed on and appreciate the people still living while we’ve got them.

My deepest sympathies to the Caine/Rosato families and to all of Mickey’s many friends.