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

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Saturday, December 29, 2018


I couldn't find my water pistols, a clear sign I haven't played with them enough in recent times.  I always enjoyed running around after my little brothers and splatting them on hot days.  This developed into something of an arms race with bigger and bigger super soakers and the garden hose.  Good times.  I'm not too old for this but maybe they are?

A different brother came over and saw this painting.  "Do you think it's appropriate to show your brother a naked Ken doll?"  I laughed.  "He doesn't have any genitalia!" I protested.  "Well, alright then."  Bro sat down and contemplated while I finished doing whatever it was I was doing.

Ken was trouble for me in this painting.  I needed reference, and I didn't know I needed a 1969 model.  I spent hours looking for my first love and learning stupid doll facts which had nothing to do with my early memories of stealing Ken from Sis1 and Barbie, or was it Tammy?  Who cares?  That bimbo didn't have anything to do with my relationship with Ken.  I envied her car though.  Ken and I had a pedestrian relationship because I was sure Sis would miss a car theft while she didn't seem to notice an absent Ken.

This painting isn't really about those early years, but clearly Ken made an impression on me in a way that manifested in later times.  I won't explain it.  Make conclusions however you'd like about him being featured on this canvas.  The larger point is that we carry our past with us.  Some of that's great, some of it's heavy baggage.

I like to think of the year end as a great time to drop that baggage so I can look forward to the new year as a fresh start.  Issues properly addressed and filed give me more head space to think about happy stuff like playing Mother May I with my sisters or squirting water at my brothers in the yard.

This painting took me a long time to do, though most of that time was spent sitting around and pondering instead of painting.  I told my brother I think it's too busy, but he said all the busyness is interesting.  What do you think?

The main thing for me is that finishing this painting was liberating, exhilarating.  I literally danced around the living room for a while in my happiness.  Issues addressed and done, a lighter load for 2019, and I get a painting to show for it!

Maybe there will come a year end when all of my issues have been addressed and I'll just paint flowers, but until then I'll keep making these paintings.  I like sorting through my thoughts and memories and especially love the happy feelings of completion and accomplishment.  May everyone find their own project they like doing as well.

And yes, I have a lot of siblings with 2 older sisters and 4 younger brothers which makes me a solidly middle child in a very noisy house.  I so envied only children, but then I wouldn't have had a sister from whom I could steal Ken.  Or, maybe Ken would've been mine in the first place?  But then I wouldn't have had anyone to shoot at with the water gun or with whom to play Mother May I.  Maybe it all comes out as a positive?

I hope everyone had a pleasant Christmas (or holiday of your choice) and has a wonderful, exciting, fulfilling, and happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Winter 2"

I drove east shortly after sunrise the other day.  Snow had dusted the trees through the night and the morning sun glittered on branches like sparkling fairy dust.  It was absolutely gorgeous and shook me out of my cold morning crabbiness.  Sometimes beauty slaps us in the face to make us appreciate the world we live in.

Yesterday's fairy snow is gone and December gloom crept back on me today.  I went to the park under a warm gray #6 sky.  The pond was cool gray #8 with #7 ice floes.  The bare trees are shades of gray brown on a brown ground amid brown leaves.  A brown squirrel scampered by and brown ducks flew overhead.  I set off with determination on the gray gravel path.

"This is good for you!" I panted to myself as I trudged forward.  My shoulders and legs felt like they weren't connected properly.  I adjusted.  I considered taking a shortcut back to my car.  I found myself tense again.  I adjusted again.  And again.

Eventually all the parts started working together.  I decided that if my world is gray and brown, I'd name the shades.  I started noticing all the colors in the subtleties.  Green moss dust on tree trunks, burnt umber, raw umber, yellow ochre... green grass!  Rose brambles held a hint of green in their brown vines, a bush held some green leaves.  I walked past a pair of deer, one of whom was intently licking the contents of the other's ear.  I couldn't make up my mind whether to feel disgusted or laugh.  Maybe it's deer foreplay?

There's a couple more places where I could've abandoned my walk, but I managed to do the complete circuit, including going up and down a couple of significant hills.  The leaves on the ground didn't look brown anymore.  They were a vibrant orange.  The bare patches on a sycamore tree reflected a vivid blue.  Same leaves, same trees, different perspective.  Of course it might've had something to do with the stroke I was having coming up that last hill, but I'm thinking positive.

In the season of gifting, remember, fairy snow and shades of brown are also gifts.  All we need to do is put ourselves in a place to see them and open our eyes and minds.

Wishing everyone happiness and peace during the holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2018


I like making snowflakes.  I liked cutting them out and sticking them on winter windows in school and I liked sticking them on the windows at home.  I still liked cutting them out when I was designing packaging for a living.  Some things are perennially perfect activities and I don't care about all the little bits of paper that get scattered around.

Mom hated the snowflake activity.  She did care about scattered bits of paper.  She hated Legos and all sorts of things I liked to do.  That's fine.  She didn't have to cut paper or play with Legos.  Do your own thing.  Be happy.

This sounds so simple.  It is simple.  There's all sorts of aphorisms that reinforce the thought.  The problem is we talk ourselves out of it, and other people try to talk us out of it too.  For example, when I happily cut snowflakes at work, my coworkers told me to get serious and quit having fun.  I shooed them away and kept cutting.  An afternoon of quiet clipping turned into many successful package designs.

Although this supported my paycheck, I didn't consider it "important".  They weren't like Rembrandt's portraits, Van Gogh's sunflowers, or anything else the masters created.  I kept waiting for an epiphany to lead me to my own masterpieces.  I think too many of us keep waiting for an epiphany and don't even cut snowflakes in the meantime.  I'm not just talking about art.  Whatever floats your boat, do it.

Mr. Roger's "Nobody else can live the life you live" has been stuck in my head for quite a while.  “You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There's never been anyone exactly like you before, and there will never be again."

This has often struck me as both absolutely true and impossible.  There are so many people in the world.  All the great paintings have already been painted; there are no new ideas, just variations on snowflakes that look like solid white when they get together.  And yet, no two snowflakes are alike, right?

My recent paintings are an attempt to live up to Mr. Roger's affirmations.  The paintings are about my unique life.  Nobody else could paint them because I'm telling my stories.  Someone else could paint similar objects in a similar style, or paint their own stories in their own way, and it would be something entirely different.  That's great.  Even with the billions of people on the planet there's still room for all of us to express ourselves.

It's one thing to aspire to the masters and another to be choked by their achievements.  I don't want to be Van Gogh.  He was nuts.  Rembrandt died poor.  I'm painting in a pursuit of happiness.  It doesn't matter if these men achieved more posthumous fame and fortune.  What matters is following Mr. Rogers' wisdom and being my best me.

I've been thinking of these things for a while, but maybe I'm being extra fatalistic since I found out Jason Furcsik died.  He's another of my brothers' lifelong friends from the Glen, and yet another of their friends to die far too young.  I feel so sad.

On a brighter note, Bro2 brought his new puppy over.  For a ricocheting ball of energy, he is so gentle with my ancient dog.  It's funny to watch them play together.  They're in love, and I have to say I'm in love with the adorable little thing too.

Saturday, December 8, 2018


I'm not a chef, but I've been telling people how to cook lately.  Okra?  Deep fry it.  Use it to thicken things.  It's just a green vegetable.  Hide it in soup or stew.  Too many peas?  They freeze well.  I freeze celery too.  Cut it up and freeze for later cooking.  Grated cauliflower?  Sauté, microwave, or add it to other things.  I bet it would be good mixed in with mashed potatoes.  I saw a creamy cauliflower soup on one of the cooking shows.

All of this cooking direction is the result of my latest volunteer efforts.  I stand in a cold parking lot and give food to people who need it.  I'm enjoying it, which seems a bit crazy since I'm freezing out there and it seems downright criminal that there are people in such a wealthy country who need food handouts, but everyone is so nice.  My fellow volunteers are nice and the recipients are nice.  They tell me how to cook things and I pass on their tips.  We all bond in the cold.

None of us have any say about what kind of food we'll be handing out, therefore, okra.  Despite its popularity in the South, very few people love it in Ohio.  We all know it's slimy and gross, even the majority who have never eaten it before.  Given a choice between okra and sugar snap peas, people took the peas.

The Canadian winds blowing off of Lake Erie are brutal.  I found my long johns and silk socks.  It helps.  I used hand warmers inside my winter gloves and sealed the leather gloves inside plastic food prep gloves.  I shiver and hop up and down while people laugh.  I never realized destitute people are so jolly, or grateful for that matter.

Oh sure, there's some crabby old women who demand butter when we don't have it that week.  Here, take some eggs.  Want some okra?  Actually, I think the brightest side of okra is the incredulous looks I got when I offered it.  The other bright spot was when an older man lit up like a Christmas tree when he saw the okra.  I gave him a lot of it since he seemed to be one of the few people who knew what to do with it.

One of my friends volunteers to serve dinners at a nearby church.  She happily stays inside where it's warm, but otherwise there are quite a few similarities: happy people, good food, camaraderie -- and the fact that there are people in the US who need free food.

It seems to me there are people who volunteer for things and many others who don't.  I think the ones who don't are missing out.  It doesn't have to be about food.  My dinner-serving friend used to volunteer as a receptionist at a children's hospital.  She's an elf for Santa's train.  I've volunteered at the parks and schools.  I tended flowers in city planters last summer.  Just pick something you like to do and find a place to do it.  The things you gain may be hard to quantify, but I'll bet it makes you feel better while making other people's lives better too.

If I haven't convinced you to volunteer somewhere, it's a good time of the year to give too.  Lots of charities need your support.  Pick one, or many, and spread some happiness.  If you want to give to Food Not Bombs, contact them at FNBeastCLE@gmail.com.  We're especially hoping someone will donate a used van, truck, or SUV for delivering food.

As for last week's deadline, yes, I got my project finished in time.  It didn't matter.  I'm in the middle of a major redirection of the project with a new short deadline.  Sigh.  Actually, before the sighs I had a temper tantrum by the latest instructions.  I've progressed to sighs.  Thankfully the only witness to my tantrum was my dog :)

Friday, November 30, 2018


Bro2 got a Cavachon puppy.  I really should've taken a picture because he's extremely adorable even though he's so tiny it seems kind of silly to even call him a dog.  The cat towers over him and seems confused by ricocheting ball of energy flying around the house.  The picture below is somebody else's dog, but gives you an idea of general cuteness.

The original "owner" said she didn't want him anymore.  Bro had to take him for a bath and haircut before they could even go home together because the puppy's fur was so filthy and matted.  This makes me insane, but now the puppy is warm and fuzzy with his new butch haircut.  Bro even bought him a coat so he won't get cold on their walks.  They're going to be very happy together, so I guess all's well that ends well.  I was happy to visit and soak up puppy love and kisses.

I love puppies but I think my next dog might be an older animal.  Hopefully one who is already housebroken and doesn't chew on important things or walk through art projects.  Mostly I hope my ancient dog still has a few years in her.  I hope she likes playing with Bro's new puppy.  If not, she and the cat can cuddle in a corner and cast disapproving looks across the room until the little beast grows up and settles down.

I'd like to wax poetic about warm and fuzzy thoughts but my brain is jammed on the fact that I have a very hard deadline to meet.  I'll have to work through the weekend and my brain isn't helped by the fact that I'm having a hard time getting started on it.  The layout is approved, everything is set to go... and inertia.  I want to finish my latest painting instead.  My energy is pulled in opposing directions and nothing is getting done.  I hate that when that happens.

It will all work out.  I always meet deadlines.  It's just a question of how crazy I'll make myself before I get into a Zen state of productivity.  One of the things it took me a very long time to accept is that starting a project before my mind is on it is often pointless.  I blow time on "shortcuts" that take more time in the end as I laboriously fix things.  It's best to just do it right the first time.

This feels like a beginner's problem, but I suspect a lot of us do it.  We aren't machines.  We need to take time to cuddle fuzzy puppies, take a walk, or take a bath, or whatever it takes to blow off our procrastinating energies.  I guess the joy of maturity is knowing when we have a bit of time to waste and the confidence to know we can make up for that waste through experience?

You can think of it like Christmas shopping.  Some people have all their gifts in July.  Some by December 1.  Some wait until Christmas eve or even January.  The important thing is to know what you can live with and what others will accept -- and with that I'm feeling a whisper of positive deadline Zen...

I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season!

The last of my tomatoes from the garden!  Picked green to ripen inside,
this is the first time I've made them last until December.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


I used to take my little brothers to soccer practice.  Kids ran down the field one direction, then ran in the other direction.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Sometimes it rained.  I didn't see why I should be punished for sports, especially for something as inconsequential as soccer.  It wasn't like it was something important.

I tried to be supportive since Bros wanted to play, but I suspect my priorities leaked into their priorities.  They can swim like fish because that's an important life skill.  Soccer?  I doubt they've played it since they were 10.  Of course it would be fine if they did want to play.  Healthy exercise outside is always good, but sports are just games.

Sometimes I feel like the only one in the world who could care less about sports.  Once in a while I pay attention because our team is in the playoffs or won the title and I have to look happy for the fans around me.  I'm happy they're happy, but c'mon everybody!  None of it matters!  (I'm now feeling like ducking because people will start throwing soccer balls at me, and I don't even know if Cleveland has a team.)

Maybe I get too serious?  There has to be more to life than work and obligations.  Maybe games matter?  I remember an afternoon spent with my sisters kicking a ball around after Dad told us about soccer.  It was a fun afternoon.  I wonder if I could get them to play again sometime?  Maybe we'd have an important sister bonding moment?

"All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy."  It also leaches the life out of your creative pursuits.  You've got to play around with things to discover new things and express yourself in interesting ways.

For instance, I was substitute teaching in an art class when I looked at the waste basket.  Kids had thrown away aborted attempts at things, but the mat board they had done them on was still mostly good.  I had a free period and used up their discards in creative play.  That 45 minutes or so sent my art in a new direction for a while, and still turns up in my current work.  It was also just as possible that I would've made messes on stuff they'd already thrown away, but you don't know until you try.

I think a lot of us quit before we start because we don't know whether or not something will turn out.  Think back to kindergarten when you drew and colored and pasted without those kinds of worries.  It was fun.  You liked to do it.  When did you lose that sense of play?  Why?

I've been thinking of my 20s lately.  It was a period of time when I got down to the serious business of being an adult and left too many of my games behind.  I think of my boyfriend's sour looks when I was being silly and blame him for being a sourpuss -- but I also fault myself for buying into his control.  Lesson learned and not to be repeated.

Play is good.  It's necessary.  It makes everything in life worth experiencing.  I'm not convinced soccer is essential, but you get the idea.  Well, soccer isn't necessary to me, but if soccer is your fun, it's vital.

What's your favorite way to play?

Sunday, November 18, 2018


Sometimes I wish I had a smaller yard.  I've been raking leaves in between bouts of snow.  It hasn't been enough snow to count, but enough to convince me that leaf raking can be put off for another day (like in April).  I listen to the swish, swish, swish of the rake through the leaves and think of this little story about snow in China by Jim Croce.

Anthony Arya recently sang Croce's "Operator" on the singing competition show "The Voice", which you can see here.  He's a cute boy, and he sang it well even though he didn't even know what an operator was and I just don't believe his heart has ever been broken.  Somehow the song isn't the same without the heartbreak.

Jim Croce is one of my favorite go to musicians when I'm feeling blue.  "Photographs and memories... all that I have are these to remember you."  At some point the longing and romanticism gets replaced by P!nk on youtube "You weren't there, you never were" and I quit feeling nostalgic and think about Chinese people sweeping snow.

Arya's heart will probably get broken eventually.  I'm not wishing it on him, but  I often think the best artists (and other professions) have interesting and/or painful back stories which create a need for these people to express or prove themselves.  I want a peaceful world, but I suspect it would be beige and boring.  Maybe I'm just looking for a point behind the world's miseries, but this explanation gives me peace so I'm sticking with it unless someone can give a better reason.

Use what you're given.  If your heart is broken, sing a song with tears and a crack in your voice.  It may seem less perfect, but the cracked song touches the hearts of the people who hear it, and it seems like that's the point of all art.  If you're young and innocent, sing innocent songs.  There's a song for every emotion in the rainbow, but the classics are classic because they speak to emotions.  There's comfort in knowing someone else understands how you're feeling.

I painted this portrait of Robert Smith as part of a larger assignment.  I'll admit I didn't even recognize his name at first.  I dutifully looked him up and liked his wild hair.  I'm sure I've listened to The Cure, I even suspect it's one of my ex's favorite bands, but I don't usually pay much attention to who is singing, just what they're singing...

"There was nothing in the world that I ever wanted more than to never feel the breaking apart all my pictures of you."

Hmm... I wonder if Robert and Jim Croce could've cried in their beers together and felt their common humanity?  Maybe they'd just like to talk about Chinese people sweeping snow?

I was going to end this by saying it was time to rake some leaves, but it's raining now.  Maybe I'll spend more time listening to music on youtube because April definitely seems like the best time for raking?

Saturday, November 10, 2018


You may find this difficult to believe, but I wasn't a well-behaved child in high school.  Well, I sort of behaved.  I got good grades and took care of my little brothers.  Never mind I did the bare minimum for the grades and made innumerable mistakes with my brothers.  The rest of my time was spent making mischief, often with brothers in tow.

This photo/art was a collaborative piece.  My girlfriend took the photo of me in the park while well-behaved children stared out windows in school.  I don't remember if we bothered to get permission for the outing or not.  Sometimes I forged a pass out of classes.  Sometimes I asked a naive art teacher to write us a pass.  I didn't even have that teacher.  I just saw her as an easy mark.  I told her about this many years later and she laughed.  She said if she could've written herself a pass out of class she would've.

My girlfriend and I showed up at school eventually and look, see, we did something productive!  Give us A's for being creative!  I never got in trouble for my rampant truancy.  I got caught once by the vice principal.  He looked up my records and said, "I've got kids with real problems.  Get out of here!"  Yippee.  See ya!

I'd like to say this was all for the good, but I was a bad influence on my brothers and some of my friends.  I have a little regret, not a lot, but some.  Mostly I was glad to get out.

The schools created my truancy problem in the first place.  I was too academically advanced for my grade, but not socially, so my early teachers often sent me out of class to amuse myself in the library or wherever.  Looking back, I can't imagine sending a little kid to the playground by herself, but at the time I mostly loved it.  I tagged along after the custodian and read books that kept me forever ahead of my class.  This set me up for a life-long pattern.  Leave me alone and I'll do my work, even excel at it.  The downside is a disregard for rules and the inability to work in a restrictive environment.  I also felt excluded, literally looking in windows from the outside.

That vice principal missed the fact I had real problems.  It's just nobody knew what to do about them, and I'm not whining about my excessive freedom.  I got to play in the castle.

I had a chance encounter with my first real boyfriend this week, and maybe seeing him has me living in this period of the past more vividly than I normally might.  We didn't talk, just smiled and said "Hi" to each other, but he looked great.  I've felt giggly about seeing him, the same kind of giggly as skipping school.  I hope he's having a great life.

I'm also thrilled with the results of the US election.  Thank you to everyone who voted and for all our international friends' prayers and best wishes!

Less fun, but important to me, Dr. Neil fixed my celery damaged tooth.  I don't love him like my old dentist, but he seems competent.  I'm not ready for a permanent commitment, but I'm thankful to the repair.  I think I'll stay away from celery in the future.

Squire's Castle in Cleveland Metroparks

Friday, November 2, 2018


I blame the upcoming US election for my emergency dentist appointment.  I've been gritting my teeth during the day and grinding them in my sleep at night, but the final culprit was chewing celery.  C'mon!  Celery?

I loved my dentist, but he retired this summer.  This left me with the painful task of finding someone new.  I've been asking everyone for recommendations.  I researched those recommendations.  In a way, it's a different kind of voting.  Some people care most about friendliness.  Others, cleanliness.  I don't want to befriend my dentist.  I want to assume any dentist's office is clean.  I care about honesty and quality.  We're building a very important, long-term relationship and I want it based on trust.

Dr. Neil has 16 hearts on the community page.  That's more hearts than anyone else.  I hope I'll be able to heart him too.  Sometimes the popular vote works out.  I'm hoping to get lucky with Dr. Neil, and that the Democrats get a lot of hearts on Tuesday.  Actually, I'm hoping the Democrats win everything.  I long for congressional oversight and more sense in government.

Not so long ago, a young person said I was talking "almost like a Republican!"  I laughed.  As I just wrote, I hope the Dems win everything on Tuesday.  At the same time, I don't think the Dems are always right.  They're just our best hope for actual oversight and responsibility at the moment, and they're the only party that is actually reflecting the views of the majority of the population.

I have a long-term hope that the responsible Republicans will create a viable third party which kicks out the racists, misogynists, climate change deniers, and lunatics.  Until then, I'm voting Democrat.  I hope you will too.  I can't afford the dental bill if you don't.

Enough about the election!  I needed a pic of myself for a bio in a magazine and copied it for my profile here.  I'm not convinced it looks like me enough.  I kept thinking it looks like Mary Poppins.  I've always had a soft spot for Julie Andrews, but never thought I looked like her before.  I traced my selfie to see what I was getting wrong and thought the tracing looked even less like me.  Oh well, better than my 4 year old photo?

Maybe none of us really comprehend what we actually look like?  One woman told me her nose was too pointy.  I thought she had a cute snub nose.  I could see what she was saying, sort of, if you caught her at just the right angle, but I don't think anyone but her would see it without her bemoaning it.  Even if they did, I think most would think her pretty.  I admire Rembrandt for being brave enough to see himself honestly and to paint himself as he aged.

There's a tiny self portrait in my latest painting, from back in the day when I was young and slim.  I actually made this dress out of black velvet although I'm not a seamstress.  I was even kicked out of home economics class.  Successfully sewing velvet made me pretty pleased with myself.  I wrote about wearing this dress once.  You can read about it here.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


I hummed to my plants while tending my garden and Bro2 said I was "witch compatible".  This was before I knew anything about Wiccans and I took offense.  Aside from Glinda the Good Witch, witches were ugly and evil.  I looked up Wiccans and decided I agreed with them about gardening.  In fact, they're probably better at it because they pay attention to moon phases though Dad paid attention to that too and I'm pretty sure he wasn't a witch.  He just studied the Farmer's Almanac.

As I'm wont to do, a little research ended up in quite of it before I decided I'm definitely not a witch, and I'm not going to be one.  Live and let live, let's talk about the healing properties of herbs.  Tip: lemon balm and fennel makes a great tea for a stuffed up head.

I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed or proud that I could probably win a Harry Potter trivia contest.  The books soothe me when life is stressful.  Children having adventures in a magic castle is a much better world than one with politically craziness and violence.  I think we'd be better off if our schools had herbology classes too.  Maybe without the biting plants.

The other day I thought about Professor McGonagall.  She's stern and can be forbidding, but she's also dependable and capable.  She got the rules bent for Harry to play quidditch in his first year, but docked him a tremendous amount of points through his school years.  We'd all be better off with a lot more McGonagalls.  Rules, consequences, encouragement, discipline, what more do you want from a teacher?

None of us wants to admit we want these qualities enforced upon us, but we do.  Life is easier when we know what's expected of us.  This is true between student to teacher, child to parent, employee to employer, and between friends and lovers.  Set the rules and stick to them.  If a rule is bent, have a good reason for it instead of just taking the easy path because the short-term easy path becomes the harder road in the long run.

I was with a woman and her young boys in a store.  The boys screamed bloody murder for toys they wanted.  The mom gave in.  I said she'd just guaranteed her boys would scream every time they were in a store.  It would be easier to just say no and stick to it.

This is, of course, much harder to practice in reality than in theory, especially since adults have more wiles than screaming toddlers.  I could give you many examples of times I failed at it miserably.  It's at the root of my failed relationships of different kinds.  I tell someone here's my boundary.  The person steps over the imaginary line.  I feel resentful.  The person looks for more boundaries to step over.  I enforce my boundaries while feeling more resentment until the inevitable explosion.  I bet Professor McGonagall never has to deal with these problems.

It's easier to blame trespassers of my boundaries than to look at my own failed defenses.  I can't do anything about other people, but I can study better methods.  Professor McGonagall is a good example even if she's a witch in a children's book.

Happy Halloween everybody!

Saturday, October 20, 2018


My Girl Scout troop decided to have a séance when we huddled around the fire during a sleepout.  None of my peers had a dead person to call back so I offered my Great Grandpa Winters.  I earnestly chanted with the others until I saw a thick wisp of something that looked like more than smoke.  Aaaaahh!!!!  I yanked my hands away from the girls on each side of me and had a full-blown panic attack.  I loved Grandpa and everything, but I was scared to death to see him in his dead form.

The other girls weren't happy with me for breaking the circle, and I started to wish I'd taken the chance to talk to Grandpa since I missed him.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda... let's make s'mores.

It's one of those days when I stare at the rain and feel uncooperative with the week's word.  There's so many things to write about ghosts and for some reason I don't feel like writing them.  Why should I worry about any lingering spirits' unresolved issues?  Go to the light and leave me alone.

I went to an art event yesterday.  It was fun to attend with live music and plenty of happy, friendly people.  I enjoyed looking at the art, but noticed nobody was walking around with purchases.  Three artists work in a surrealistic style, with Dali-like images.  This isn't original or new.  The paintings weren't even well-done.  Another artist painted vertical lines of different colors which looked like a house painter's samples or a homework assignment.  Another created computer-generated deceptions which pretended to be paintings.  They weren't even original images.  They were knock offs of famous people's photographic portraits.  I started feeling sad.

Thankfully, there were a couple of artists whose work was actually interesting, good, and creative.  They help me keep a grip on my artistic idealism.  Blogland is another way I keep inspired.  Sharing our ideas and work can be inspiring and help us take our work in new directions.  For that matter, even the Dali knockoffs provided some inspiration.  I got on the internet and looked up Dali's work.  I don't care for his melted watches, but I admire other things he did.  In that admiration maybe I can find something that finds a way into one of my efforts?

Sometimes it feels like our muse deserts us.  We stall.  We can feel intimidated by what other people are doing, or superior for that matter.  We can get mired in negatives.  The important thing to remember is the good is always there too.  Inspiration is available.  Find it.  Go to art shows.  Search the web.  Read.  Look at the trees and smell the flowers.  Open yourself up to whatever is around you and explore the good in it.  If you can't get out of your negatives, look for a way to grow in your negatives too.

I finished another painting but there isn't anything ghost-like in it.  Maybe IF will give me a better word for me to show it to you next week?  Wishing everyone a happy and inspiring autumn in the meantime!

Saturday, October 13, 2018


I walked in the park this week wearing shorts and sandals.  Everyone I met smiled and said "hi".  The trees dumped truckloads of ankle-turning acorns all over everything and the squirrels and chipmunks were happily scurrying around.  It was a good day, a magical day.  It feels so long ago.  Now I'm trying to decide whether or not to pick all my green tomatoes before the cold ruins them.  I'm so sick of tomatoes.  I'll be so sorry when I don't have garden fresh tomatoes anymore.

I helped a friend with his fall leaves this week too.  He lives 15 minutes away in a whole different climate.  We spent 4 hours on his leaves but all of mine are still green.  Oh okay, maybe we didn't actually do productive things in that whole 4 hours.  We might've spent 10 minutes or a couple of hours talking in the driveway, but you know, it still counts.  Sort of.  We've got to ease into our fall exercise routine.

Our different climates are due to the Great Lakes.  I live 2 miles away from Lake Erie as the crow flies.  He's more like 10 or 15 miles from the lake.  In fall, the lake still holds the warmth of the summer sun.  That means my world is a little balmier than my friend's.  In spring, the lake is an ice cube making my world colder.  So you see, it all works out about even for everyone, I just feel a bit out of step with most of the rest of the world.  That's fine.  It suits me.

I've always felt a bit out of sync with everyone else.  Maybe we all feel that way sometimes?  I learned how to pretend to be like everyone else while indulging my idiosyncrasies.  Once, I told someone that I was practicing for the day when I become an eccentric old lady.  He told me I could quit practicing.  That's an achievement that still pleases me.  Just wait till I'm truly an eccentric old lady!

At the heart of it, I know we all have to conform enough to get along.  At the same time, what's the point of everyone being the same?  Everything that makes each of us special is where the magic is.  For creative people, it makes our creations interesting.  For everyone, our distinctiveness is what makes us an interesting friend or a valuable employee or boss.  Maybe the people who aren't good at these things aren't good at them because they're trying too hard to row against their personal current?

Unrelated to any of this, I'm currently reading A Deadly Wandering by Pulitzer Prize winner Matt Richtel.  In it, I learned driving while talking on the phone is even worse than drunk driving.  It doesn't matter if you're doing it hands-free or not.  Texting is even worse.  I know many of my loved ones talk on the phone all the time while driving.  Please stop.  Whatever you've got to say can wait.  You can read more about the statistics here.

The book also addresses the neuroscience behind the addictiveness of smart phones.  I haven't finished the book yet, but so far it's an interesting read.  For those of you who find the topic interesting, I'd recommend it.  Maybe we can apply some social pressure to getting people away from their phones to take magical walks in the fall leaves?

Sunday, October 7, 2018


My recent paintings are an autobiography of sorts, and part of the research I do is reading my journals.  Example: Dec. 16, 1990 "I hate the damned cat most of the time."  There was more in the entry about the general havoc and destruction Dash was wreaking on my kitchen at the time.  Dogs at least show remorse when they do something wrong.  Cats seem to glory in it, though when my cat wasn't breaking things he was rather sweet.

I spoke with a friend this week about my ex-bf who read my journal -- and held what he read against me for the rest of our relationship.  My friend laughed and said he'd never be stupid enough to tell me he'd read my journal.  "Would you read it?!" I asked.  "Sure!" he replied.  Seeing as I used to date this guy I asked if he had read my journals.  He said he hadn't, but it was now established that he wasn't stupid enough to tell me if he did.

My journals suffered repeated invasions of privacy by multiple people which caused me to destroy many of them and not to write about my feelings for years.  I think it was a different form of abuse really.  Other people's nosiness caused me to cut off a healthy coping skill and destroyed my trust in those people.

I didn't really hate my cat.  I was just mad at him.  Writing what I felt in the moment with the intention of nobody's eyes but my own was a safe way to vent.  I sometimes wrote about people the same way.  Sometimes I didn't know what I felt and I wrote until I figured it out.

One time, a woman picked up my journal and started to read it in front of me.  Short of a fist fight, she wouldn't give it up.  In the end, I let her read what I'd written -- which was concern about her parenting skills.  Maybe she learned something useful?  I'm pretty sure she still holds what I wrote against me too -- which doesn't mean I should have to give up my self-expression to make her happier.  There's a reason journals are supposed to be private.

Unlike all these other people, I usually don't reread my journals.  Doing research for my paintings has been an interesting journey.  The amount of time I obsessed about stupid things and worrying about other people!  I want that time back.  I guess seeing this is part of the benefits of age and wisdom?

For my current paintings, I summarize my journal entries.  I journal more.  I figure out major themes and type a summary.  When the painting is finished, I've thought and felt all I need to think and feel about the subject.  It's a lot of work, but it's also been enormously helpful in seeing things I couldn't see before in people and events.  Maybe all this sounds too obsessive compulsive?  The thing is, I think everything we feel and experience stays in our muddy brains until it's resolved.  Thinking a lot about some things now means I won't have to think about them anymore.  In other words, less work in the end.

Sometimes we have to just look for the good in bad outcomes.  For instance, I think the US Supreme Court battle has finally cured me of my news addiction.  I can't stand to look at those people in DC.  They're like cats smashing things in the kitchen for fun.  I hope the Democrats win everything in November.

Friday, September 28, 2018


It's personal.  Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified to the US Senate Judiciary Committee this week and represented women across the country.  The senators believed her when she said she was attacked, pinned down, and nearly raped -- but somehow, this intelligent, educated, and reasonable woman was "mistaken" when she pointed the finger squarely at Brett Kavanaugh and said she's 100% sure he and his friend were the ones who did it.

Kavanaugh lied to the committee on numerous points.  Nobody believes the crap he says to defend his drinking, virginity, extreme debt, gambling, or access to stolen Democrat communication.  We know Trump wants Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court because he believes in expansion of presidential power without prosecution for crimes.  It's a plus for all the Republicans that Kavanaugh made wildly partisan accusations in his testimony.

He's not a good choice for the Supreme Court, and the Republicans don't care about his victims because he's on their side.  Never mind there are better people on their side who could be chosen.  Never mind that President Obama's choice was ignored for a year.  Ignore Kavanaugh's petulant and aggressive attitude, which isn't what anyone wants in a judge.

If one of the brightest, best, and accomplished women in the country is disregarded, then all women are disregarded.  When the old men of the Senate know they have to hire a female to ask questions to pretend fairness, then run right over that attorney, all women have been run over.  When the sins of one man are disregarded, the abusers of all women are given the liberty to do what they want without fear of consequences.

It's personal because I know too many women who have been abused.  One of my friends was killed by her husband.  I know too many women (and men) who have been raped.  Victims don't get to have a voice.  Police don't defend them, prosecutors don't take their cases.  Even when an abuser or rapist is convicted, they serve little or no time for it.  Go ahead, give one of them a Supreme Court seat.

A couple of women cornered Senator Flake at an elevator and let them know what they thought of him and his judicial vote.  One of them screamed, "Doesn't my life matter??"  Yeah, it's personal.  She's speaking for me and for too many others.

I've been to the police station, I've plead for my rights after assault, stalking, discrimination, and harassment.  From 3 to my 50s, I've repeatedly been attacked, dismissed by authorities, and told over and over to just get over it and move on.

I'm not over it.  I'm furious.  I'm sick about all of it.  I actually cried with the women accosting Flake at the elevator, and I really thought I'd already cried all my tears by now.

Women's lives matter.  Dr. Blasey Ford has my most sincere appreciation for going to the Senate to testify even though she knew it was hopeless.  She was brave to do it anyway.  Maybe it will make a difference in some way.  Maybe it will motivate the rest of us, who are the majority, into forcing change.

Friday, September 21, 2018


I discovered a murder scene, but I was a suspicious even before I saw the evidence.  It started with the creepy guy standing just out of sight from the parking lot.  He had a dog, and that's usually a good sign.  A villain wouldn't have a yellow lab, right?  I saw him immediately, but I had to do other things for several minutes.  When I returned, creepy guy was still there.  I decided to take my walk anyway.  My 69-year-old girlfriend boasted about biking 60 miles in 3 days and I feel like I'd better get some regular exercise too so I'll be able to keep up with her in 20 years.

The first murder evidence I spotted was a small black feather.  It could've been a baby feather, but it's too late in the year for babies.  A chest feather then.  Suspicious.  Birds don't pluck out chest feathers in fall for nests.  I'd just spotted the next bit of evidence when a woman jogged through the crime scene.  A black wing feather with a white shaft.  Hmm.  Not a crow then.  The chest feather should've been red if it were a robin.

I decided to look for evidence of the murderer.  Yeah, yeah it's against state law to have raptor feathers, but a hawk feather would look nice on my hat.

I found a broken egg.  The mystery deepened.  Maybe that bird did make a nest?  No, don't be ridiculous.  The victim was a songbird.  This egg was large and white.  A duck?  A chicken.  Well!  The mystery continues.  I prodded the shell.  It was clean inside, so it wasn't like it fell from a tree with a baby inside.  The feathers were lightly resting on top of the newly dressed trail, so the murder couldn't have happened long before.  It seemed unlikely varmints would've had the time to eat the egg, and the egg was crushed without evidence of egg on the ground.

I stood up and put on my pondering face when I spotted the second egg a few feet away.  I found 3 eggshells in all, no egg contents, 2 more black feathers, no hawk feathers, and a highly edible mushroom.

The cross-country boy jogged past me for the second time.  I decided I'd dawdled long enough at the bottom of the steep hill I'd been dreading and resumed hiking.  The teenaged boy passed me again by the time I'd been up the hill around the loop and back to the murder scene.  The evidence was gone.

I only saw 4 people in the park.  Cross-country boy, woman jogger, creepy guy, and an old guy who was walking kind of lopsided.  None of them looked particularly murderous. 

I did discover what creepy guy was doing though.  He was gone when I got back to where I'd seen him, but I could see what he was looking at through the thin screen of trees -- high school girls in short shorts playing soccer.  You just can't trust some people, even with a yellow lab.  I called the cops and told them to keep an eye out for him.  I didn't mention the murder.

As if the various food items above weren't enough for this week's IF word, I finally finished my latest painting!!  Woo hoo!  YAY!!!  This one was a struggle mentally, emotionally, and artistically and I'm feeling the joy of accomplishment.  It even fits this week's prompt as it not only has an apple, it includes beer, sage, a pig, Pepsi, herbal vinegar, Blue Gill, and a filet knife.  Figure that all out as you see fit :)

Saturday, September 15, 2018


I looked up top 10 lists for fear and saw zombies.  Really?  How many zombies have you fended off recently?  How many spider or snake attacks?  Have you fallen off any tall buildings?  Did your plane go down?  Crazy people.  I'm kind of pleased that some of my fears about the environment and politicians have moved up on the list in the last year -- though quite displeased there are impelling reasons for those issues to move up the list.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to look at spiders either.  I just think it's unlikely one of them is going to kill me -- unlike my perfectly legitimate paranoia about ticks, which gets to the point of a lot of fears.  Ticks are foreign to me.  I'm afraid I don't know how to protect myself adequately.  The deer raiding my garden carry ticks, so it's a reasonable threat.  Ticks carry Lyme disease.  I don't want to catch that.  Kill deer.  Reverse climate change so ticks die in winter the way nature intended.  Vote all the climate change denying politicians out of office.

I'm willing to admit my tick paranoia might be a little overblown.  We don't have to kill all the deer, just the ones plaguing my neighborhood.  Give the deer birth control and napalm the places ticks lurk.  Maybe cull the herd and feed orphans venison.  I'm reasonable.  There might be a few action plans which I could buy into supporting.

The point is to actually look at our fears and figure out ways to address them.  Let's take fear of failure as an example.  If you're afraid to try something because you're afraid you'll fail, you've failed.  If you half-ass something because you're afraid, you've failed.  I understand dread of putting yourself fully into something and finding in the end that you didn't achieve what you wanted but that's the risks in achieving success.  You have to try or you certainly won't win.  Sometimes a failed effort leads to a better victory in something we didn't even know to look for before the attempt.

Okay, time for a smooth transition into ducks and fish...

Dark and gloomy lake full of ducks
The lake's spillway, which is the overflow for this human-made lake
I went to Pennsylvania this week.  It was dark and overcast.  Kids were in school.  To me, a perfect for a day trip to Linesville Spillway at Pymatuning Lake to look at carp.  This was my friend's idea.  I don't usually go out of my way to see carp, but apparently quite a few people do -- but not on my dark, overcast day.  You can see video of the reason why here.  That's a lot of fish.  They're really big too, like 3-4' long.

Close up of ugly carp mouth which was big enough to swallow your leg
We took country roads back to Ohio and stopped at the cheese factory where I bought a huge block of Swiss which I later broke up into smaller chunks and froze for later.  We ate lunch at the Amish restaurant and had comfort food.  We stopped at a produce stand where I bought pickling cukes and more.  I love this time of year for produce.  I was back home early enough to can plums, chop up peppers, and who knows what else.  It was a very nice day.  Who needs sunshine?  It just gives me migraines anyway.

I'm noticing that I like to paint apples lately, and each kind of apple has different meanings to me.  The apple above is a bit of my current painting, the part next to the post office box I showed you last week.  I've made progress on this piece and am starting to hope I'll be able to show you the finished painting soon.

Friday, September 7, 2018


When I give to charities, I prefer to give anonymously.  If I send a check with my info on it, I tell them to only contact me once or twice a year and don't sell my name and info.  Some charities are very good about this.  Some aren't.  The breast cancer people make me want to throw the phone out the window.  Stop robo calling me!

I understand quite a bit about charities since I used to be in charge of fundraising.  There's probably some karmic thing going on with the breast people because my work plagued so many others.  I'm sorry.  Please forgive me.  Please make the robo calls stop!

Charities make money selling your personal information.  Maybe you enjoy getting a lot of junk mail and robo calls.  98% of the rest of us don't.  If you want off the mailing lists, contact the charity and tell them to block you from future mailings.  If you send their mail back to them with that message, leave your info on it with the tracking number.  Some people like cutting this off or blacking it out with marker.  If the data entry people can't see who you are they can't take you off the list.

I have to admit that I really enjoyed some of the messages people wrote on their returned mail when I worked for Religion.  Let's call them, um, colorful.  Lots of cuss words sent to priests with quite a bit of damning in it too.  Some of the messages were really creative.  You've got to encourage creativity, right?  I also figure that quite a bit of that damning was earned by the pedophiles.

Better charities control how often they mail to people.  Like I said, I only want to get a solicitation once or twice a year.  If they don't honor my request I quit giving to them.  Some people only want to get mail on Mother's Day, but never Father's Day.  Whatever, if they have competent people and software they should be able to do this for you.  They should be able to block you from being sold to other charities too.

If you get unsolicited faxes, call the 800 number at the bottom of the ads.  You'll get an automated message to opt out of future ads.  Mark email ads as spam and delete without opening.  I never answer robo calls.  I have called the breast people to cease and desist.  It's been a little while since they've called.  Maybe it's finally over?

That's enough of my public service message.  I think IF is trying to make me talk about the NY Times anonymous editorial trashing the US White House.  I don't feel like weighing in on this because it feels like this is still a work in progress.  The bigger issue is the Supreme Court confirmation hearing going on.  I hope and pray that the result will be what's best for the people.

This post office box is part of my latest art therapy project.  It's a slooooow painting compared to the one I posted in August.  I guess I have more things to think about with it, but it's an artistic problem too.  I keep moving things around and trying to get a decent composition out of it without feeling satisfied.  I figure it takes as long as it takes and then I'm done with those issues once and for all.  I just wish I was already finished with them!

Saturday, September 1, 2018


I live near a lot of Jewish people, extra-concentrated back to Adam Jews where women shave their heads.  They wear wigs, often of human hair, which makes no sense to me on so many levels.  If God gave you the hair in the first place, why is God offended you have it?  I can ask the same question in regards to circumcision too, but I suspect I'm already getting myself in trouble.

There's a yeshiva, a rabbinical  seminary, at the end of my street.  Oddly, it's next to a Catholic seminary.  Cleveland, Ohio has one of largest Jewish populations in the US.  (Wikipedia info here)  Most of these people are unremarkable in the ways of let's say Mormons to Presbyterians.  Okay, you go to temple instead of church.  That's interesting, but it doesn't impact me unless I go to a wedding or funeral.  I keep mostly kosher because my grocery store is Jewish.  I'm told kosher meat is the result of better animal treatment so that makes me happier.

The Jews in my neighborhood stand out in the same kinds of ways as Amish people stand out.  They dress funny.  Amish women have crisp, white bonnets and Jews have those ugly wigs.  They keep to themselves and the mystery of it all makes me want to know what they're keeping from the rest of us.  On Fridays, the Jews walk in a long black line to temple.  Even that's a mystery because I don't know where they go.  It looks like they're walking to the grocery store.  There isn't a building with "Temple" written on it.

I go out of my way to start conversations with them, particularly with the women, but I keep to non-objectionable topics like "Nice day!", "Horrible weather!", "Cute baby!"  One of these days I'm going to break past the facade and get one of them to talk to me for real.  The kids are friendly enough but they're just kids.  I assume they haven't learned all the secrets yet.

I did a DNA test a while ago and found out I'm 2% Jewish (and less than 1% Asian).  It's beyond me where my ancestors found a Jewish Asian in colonial America, but it pleases me to have a little cultural diversity in my genes.  It doesn't give me any insight into my yeshiva neighbors, but it adds to my curiosity about them.

I think, what's the point of all this rambling?  Should I start over and say something else that's worth saying?  Then I think, maybe that is the whole point.  People are different.  We're curious about the differences.  We want to communicate and learn.  Well, quite a few of us do at any rate, but it's hard to have those conversations because there's so much history of wars, prejudices, and so on.  We fear talking because we don't want to offend, but when we don't talk we don't understand each other.  Too many talk about building walls instead.

I've been heavily bothered by the increase of racist activities in the news lately.  Seems to me the best way to get past those issues is to talk without the intention, but risking the possibility, of offending.  Hopefully the spirit of community can help us get past any inadvertent offenses and we all live happily ever after.  We should at least try.

Monday, August 27, 2018

"Jail 2"

My dog won't eat rhubarb.  It's one of life's mysteries -- like why illustrationfriday.com forgets to post a new word on Friday (or sometimes, by Monday).  Therefore, we'll revisit "jail" with a blue jay feather.  Let's just consider it a jail bird, okay?

I danced happily around my house when Paul Manafort was ruled guilty last week.  I wanted to share my happiness with a friend and was surprised she was actually depressed about it.  "It's so sad there's so much criminal behavior going on these days", she said.  "Yeah, but we knew that!", I replied.  "It's a happy moment because one of the criminals has actually been found guilty!"  It was extra icing on my cake when I discovered Michael Cohen plead guilty in court at nearly the same time.

Manafort and Cohen's tax evasions cost all of the citizens money.  They stole from us.  If all this talk of Russian collusion turns out to be true, then that's another form of stealing from the people.  We should all be glad when criminals are caught and punished.

This goes beyond politics.  Republican Senator John McCain died this week and I'm sad for his family and the country.  I gave serious thought about voting for him once.  Of course this was before he gave us Sarah Palin, but I'm mostly over that now... well no, I'm not, but I'm working on forgiveness.

The point of my happy dancing is the feeling that maybe there are enough checks and balances and good people in the system to prevent the criminals around the world who are hell-bent on destroying democracy.  I want the guilty parties in jail and better laws to protect us from this kind of mess in the future.

Despite what we see, politics isn't a game or sport.  One side winning and the other losing is like a bad marriage.  The process of deciding what's best for a family is the same for our societal family.  For instance, when I was married every disagreement was war no matter how much I tried to find a middle ground.  I resented always being the peacemaker and never getting what I wanted.  When one side won't budge, there's no armistice, and eventually, no marriage.

In the 1860s, the US was in a similar situation.  The industrial North wanted to abolish slavery and punished the agricultural South with harsh tariffs.  The country split in two and fought the country's bloodiest war, and as it's been often said, neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother.  Those resentments still fester and play a part in the continuing racial issues in the country.

I want a better world and think it's possible to avoid this kind of conflict.  Compromise.  Punish criminals and traitors.  Protect citizens.  Do what's best for the majority while defending the rights of minorities.  It's possible.  Try.

John McCain often spoke about the need for regular order and reaching across the aisle, even when you have deep, fundamental differences with each other.  One of his best friends was Ted Kennedy, one of the most liberal senators in Congress.  May their lives be examples to all of us.

Unrelated to all of this, I keep meaning to take a new picture for my profile, but I never get around to it.  I've decided to let people see my inner child for a while instead, especially since my hair is kind of like this lately.