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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

"Family 3"

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and miraculously lost 10 pounds eating cookies.  Now that I think of it, I didn't get a single cookie.  This seems like a serious oversight since I'm pretty sure fortune cookies don't count.

The view on the way into the National Gallery of Art
I went to Washington, DC to visit a friend.  I suggested going to the White House and protesting, but 45 Christmased in Florida and there didn't seem much point to making signs if he wasn't going to see them.  My friend and I went to the National Gallery of Art instead.  Great art.  I highly recommend going if you're ever in DC.  Even if you don't travel there, the museum has art lectures on youtube.  Look them up and learn stuff. 

I inquired where to find specific paintings I wanted to see and the nice lady made a point of telling me not to miss a little room with Vermeers in it.  I was distracted when she told me this and almost missed the significance of her recommendation.  I peeked around a corner and woo!  Vermeer!  Little gems that I really did need to see, and nobody else in the room to bother my intense examination of them.  Lovely.

David's Cupid and Psyche in Cleveland beats Napoleon any day!
I spent some happy time with Titian, Rubens, on and on and on.  My only disappointment was their only Jacques Louis David painting is of Napoleon.  I mean, it's really well painted, but who wants to look at Napoleon?  The Cleveland Museum of Art has Cupid and Psyche.  Cleveland wins!

The museum has a number of Rembrandts, but I'm kind of specific in my love of his work.  I was thrilled to see his self portrait.  Nothing I can show on the web can compare to standing in front of the reality.  Imagine my little heart going pitty pat at the texture and details.

Detail of Rembrandt's self portrait, but this doesn't do the original justice.
The paint is caked on and has a fabulous texture.
I don't think it's possible to fully appreciate the whole museum in one day so I'll have to go back sometime.  I got online to find these photos of paintings for this post and realize how many things I still need to see there.  It may take me a while to forget how much I hate driving in DC first though.  Once again, I got turned around and frantic driving on illogical freeways.  At one point I had to cross 4 lanes of traffic because they put the exit ramp on the left side.  Who does freeway planning?!!  I was busy hyperventilating after this driving feat and missed my next exit which led me in all sorts of other places I didn't want to go, and they charged me tolls for the privilege.

My friend had to work some of the days I visited so I worked on a new painting.  It was pleasant to have an art retreat for the holidays.  The image at the top is just a part of my latest piece.  I'm rethinking a big chunk of the rest of it and may end up painting over some of it.  I hate it when that happens, but it's my own fault for not starting with a better plan.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday doing what you like most with the people you like best.  Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, successful New Year!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

"Family 2"

Someone asked me recently about my happiest Christmas.  I got an image of my brain as a Rolodex of memory index cards spinning around until it landed on a happy day of childhood at my grandparents' house.  We didn't usually go to their house for Christmas, but that year we did.  There was a lit up tree in the dining room decorated with fragile glass ornaments.  Some of the lights bubbled.  My cousins ran around and yelled as they played.  Aunts chatted in the kitchen.  Uncles chatted in the living room.  Dinner was perfect.  Everyone was happy.  I was happy.

One of the pleasures of going to Grandma's was after the meal was done.  Women whisked the dishes into the kitchen and men took the children to the nearby park where we burned off our excess energy and cookies.  In winter, the pond was frozen over and there was a hot fire going nearby.  People warmed their hands and laughed.  Sometimes we walked to the other end of the park with the big sledding hill where there was another big fire burning.  Up the hill, down the hill... repeat until bruised and exhausted.  Trudge our way back to Grandma's where the dishes were miraculously clean and put away.

We played cards and drank hot tea.  We had sandwiches made from leftovers and ate more cookies.  Grandma filled us all in on the extended family whom I probably never met, or maybe died 3 or 4 generations ago.  The patter of the conversation didn't matter much to me.  I just liked listening to the pleasantness of it with the tinkling of a metal spoon clinking as someone stirred sugar in their tea.  The creaking of Grandpa's oak rocking chair, his soft huh, huh chuckle when something struck him funny.  "Santa Got Run Over by a Reindeer" playing somewhere upstairs.

My wish is for every child to have a perfect holiday, whatever their religion.  I hope they are safe and loved and they feel a sense of belonging amongst the people around them.  I hope older people feel treasured by the younger generations.

Of course, I also know my happy wishes won't come true for everyone.  For some, the mashed potatoes might fly across the room or somebody pounds the table.  Some people are lonely because they don't have anyone around anymore.  For them, I wish a perfect memory of happiness that keeps them warm when things aren't like a perfect day at Grandma's.

It wasn't that my grandparents did anything so remarkable back then.  I got a small gift I don't remember anymore.  The food was great, but it wasn't gourmet fare.  It was probably a turkey, mashed potatoes, and green beans or something -- oh yeah, let's not forget the ever-present applesauce!  Pretty little dishes with pickles and olives and nuts and whatever else scattered around the table.  Talking about unknown relatives isn't exactly thrilling.  Playing cards is pretty cheap entertainment.  It's just that when all these things were combined it was magic.

Or, maybe the point of it was my own perspective?  Happiness isn't something someone can force on you.  We choose it.  Wherever you are, whoever you're with, whatever life gives you, I hope you find joy and happiness this holiday season!

Saturday, December 14, 2019


I was told I died.  You'd think I would've noticed that, but my friend told me he had it on good authority.  I guess I should've asked when and how, and maybe most especially, who came up with this?!  It reminds me when I was a teenager and told Mike had died.  I was with the distraught family when Mike walked in after a weekend of carousing.  He was concerned to see his mom crying.  He put his hand on her shoulder and asked, "Who died?".  Scared her to death herself!  Everybody had a good laugh.  Turned out Mike's wallet had been stolen and the thief had it when he totaled his car.  I guess it wasn't a good ending for the thief, but was a happy relief for Mike's family and me.

My premature death notice was one of those things when you learn the world is smaller than we notice most of the time.  A friend of mine mentioned an acquaintance's name.  "I know him!  I was best friends with his sister when we were in school!"  I happily gossiped and mentioned other classmates from days gone by.  I salivated at the memory of Dave's mom's homemade apple strudel.  My friend repeated some of these names to Dave and eventually passed on my greetings for me.  That's when Dave said I was dead.  Our mutual friend assured him I looked alive last week.  I poked myself and said I was pretty sure that was still true.  I feel ripped off I didn't get a glowing obituary in the paper and condolence cards, though I feel kind of sorry if anyone actually grieved over my premature death.

I might be more fussed about Dave's belief in my non-existence if I hadn't lived through that time when it happened to Mike.  I saw Mike a few years ago and I know a mistaken obit isn't a harbinger of something to come.  Maybe Dave got me mixed up with someone else?  Maybe my ex still spreads lies about me?  Whatever.  Maybe I should have lunch at Kleifeld's Restaurant in Willoughby where I always see someone I know from the old days to prove I'm still here and still trying to make the most out of the time I have on the planet.

Sometimes I'm happy to be included in a large family and the hometown community.  Sometimes it makes me want to scream.  Really, people -- gossip about someone else!  Oh, but didn't I gossip a bit about Dave and others to my friend?  Oops.  Well, yeah, but, you know, public service announcements or something, as I mutter to myself about hypocrisy and try to think up a good rationalization to excuse myself.  I don't spill all the dirt I know about people at any rate.  That's got to count for something, right?  Um, yeah.  Glass houses.

None of this seems apropos to the holiday, but it is the current gossip.  I thought it was funnier than my non-successful trip to the store in search of gifts.  I walked out with a $1 desk calendar for myself and nothing else.  I hate shopping.  I don't know how all the rest of you manage this every year.  I think I'll be taking my own advice from last week and bake some presents.

I'll take suggestions.  What are your favorite sweets to receive?

Monday, December 9, 2019


Dr. Phil says "Food isn't love", but he's wrong.  It can be.  Cooking for those you love is a loving gift.  I think back to Grandma and taste her applesauce even though I haven't had it for many years.  The apples came from Grandpa's apple tree in the back yard, a tree that bloomed in many colors every spring, and drooped with many colored apples every fall.  He took cuttings from heirloom trees when he took trips and grafted them on his tree when he got home.  We had applesauce so often when I was a kid I got sick of it.  What I wouldn't give to have a jar of Grandma's applesauce again!

$83 of groceries didn't look like very much food when I brought it home from my last shopping trip.  This made me think about those who spend a lot of their lives working for groceries and how many people count their pennies so they can buy holiday gifts.  Like my grandparents' applesauce, cooking doesn't have to be expensive. 

I bought a ham.  Ham is affordable and useful.  I'll make sandwiches and freeze extra slices for future sandwiches.  I'll cube the less pretty parts and use that meat and the ham bone for soup.  Into the freezer it all goes.  I'll melt the fat for lard which I'll later use as a flavor and grease in cooking other things and top my bowl of soup with cracklings.  Many future meals for $18.  Thank you pig.

Sometimes I'm aware I eat better and don't spend as much money as other people.  A young woman told me recently she'd like to be a vegetarian, but isn't, because she thinks vegetables are too expensive.  I gave her a confused look.  Buying ham is more expensive than carrots.  I seldom make lentil or pea soup, but I'll toss dried peas and lentils into other soups.  Lentils and peas are about $1 per bag.  Easy, cheap, good for us.  I pick herbs in the garden.  These are perennials, so free.  Grow them in pots if you don't have a yard.

Yeah, but cooking takes too much time!  Well, sorta, but I like chopping vegetables for soup.  It's my meditation.  You could use a food processor if it makes you happy.  I make big batches so I can freeze it in single serving bags for later because I don't feel like cooking every day.  I freeze them flat so they thaw out fast, then microwave them in a glass bowl for an easy, healthy supper.

I drink a lot of Red Rose tea, but they stopped putting little porcelain figurines in the box.  This made me ornery and gave me insight into early Americans dumping tea in the harbor when they were mad at King George.  I started looking around my yard for tea substitutes.  Well, I didn't give up all my tea, I was looking for things to lessen my tea dependence.  I picked clover blossoms and raspberry leaves.  I grew chamomile, mint, lemon balm, hibiscus, and lemon verbena.  My tea has gotten tastier and healthier, and I saved money.  I miss getting porcelain turtles though.  I'm hoping my protest will result in the reappearance of little figurines some day.

When I started volunteering at the food giveaway I hadn't thought about getting food from the gig.  It's just something I like to do.  This week, an old lady encouraged me to try persimmons.  I love them! (The old lady warned me they have to be very ripe or they'll pucker your mouth though).  I often take home defective, rejected produce and can it.  Canning takes time too, but I like canning.  It's like a science project in the kitchen and I get yummy fruit for dessert.  I gift jars of it to nice people too.

You don't have to cook all the time, but give it a shot.  Give the gift of home cooking to someone you love :)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

"Brain 4"

Thanksgiving has happened so now America shops for Christmas.  Well, I don't, but it seems like everyone else does.  The economy depends on it.  It seems to me there has got to be better ways to base economies than just accumulating stuff.  I'm more inclined to give home cooked food.  People eat the cookies or whatever and they aren't burdened with more things to cram into their houses or landfills.

I recently lectured a couple of my friends about buying kids too much plastic.  I felt guilty afterwards as both friends are enthusiastic grandmas who want to spoil their grandchildren -- but maybe they are exactly the kinds of people I should lecture about plastic?

Think about it, we ship oil across the world to be turned into plastic in a third world country, or we buy oil from the Middle East with its problems, before shipping it to the third world country.  Making the plastic is a toxic mess that gets into the air and water, poisoning the underpaid workers and getting into the global environment.  Once the all-important plastic stuff is created, it's shipped back around the world where it will be used for a short time before it's thrown away.  This doesn't even factor in the excessive plastic packaging, or the trees that are cut down for all the Amazon shipping boxes, or the fact that there are oil spills and other mistakes that dump plastic in the oceans.

When I visit the homes of people with children, I'm amazed at the amount of stuff little kids have.  It's crazy.  The kids don't even play with all that stuff.  One family has a couple of T-ball stands in the back yard.  I watched the boys have a good time whacking plastic balls with plastic bats.  That's nice, except I drove home and thought about the old days.  T-ball was a wooden post nailed to a wooden X base.  The ball was leather stuffed with who knows what, rat fur as far as I know.  Renewable resources at any rate.  The kids learned to hit the ball, then they didn't need the T anymore.  The wood was used for something else or it returned to the Earth by rotting in the backyard, but the plastic T, bat, and ball exists forever and probably end us in a bird's stomach.

I know, I know, some of you adore Christmas shopping.  You love spoiling the kiddies.  I know nobody wants to be lectured.  At the same time, can I suggest that you buy more Earth-friendly gifts?  Cuddling a kid on the couch and reading a book together is good.  Every kid (and adult) loves cookies.  Maybe you could make a snuggly stuffed animal or blankie for them?  I'm not anti-gift, I'm just trying to stop people from giving their kids their weight in plastic every year.  Give them experiences and memories.  Take them to the zoo or make crafts together.

I did this Christmas art for the Mensa Bulletin's December issue.  It doesn't have much to do with "brain" other than encouraging people to use their brains a little differently when shopping.  Illustration Friday has forgotten the meaning of Friday in its name.  Oh well, if they don't follow the rules that frees me up to ignore the rules too, right?

I hope everyone has a happy, cookie filled, plastic-free holiday season!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

"Brain 3"

I guess IF wants us to keep talking about brains since our leader neglects his duties of choosing new words.  I'm not sure I want to keep talking about this though.  As I said recently, "Sometimes I'm sick and tired of being in my own brain!"  The woman I was talking with gave me an incredulous look.  I asked, "Don't you ever get sick of your own thoughts?"  Nope.  She never did.  It was my turn to look incredulous.  I can't conceive of such a thing.

Another woman told me she's had a blissed out, happy life.  No problems at all.  Perfect family, perfect husband, perfect kids.  I was certain she was deluding herself, but our mutual friend told me that it's true.  None of her people has gotten sick or died, she's always had plenty of money, never been seriously emotionally or physically hurt, and has succeeded at whatever she wanted to achieve.  How is this possible?!  I want her life.

Except in my heart of hearts, I doubt I really want her life.  Well, it would be helpful to have some of her money.  Otherwise, maybe I'd rather live in my own irritating brain?

I've had more than my share of bad experiences.  Sometimes I give myself pity parties.  Sometimes I see the positives I got from those experiences.  I'm sure I'm more sympathetic, empathetic, and interesting because of the life I've had.  I'd like an easy life like that happy woman with the perfect world, but I'm not sure I'd want to trade my intangible benefits I've gotten from living through stuff.

Or, more realistically, I've already lived through those things.  I can't give them back without getting a lobotomy.  The choice is to find positives in what I have and to find gratitude for those positives.

I'm sad this week because Rand MacIvor died.  He was one of my first followers when I started this blog.  I know some of you met Rand this way too.  I don't know how he found me, and I was surprised anybody would want to read things I had to say.  He encouraged me when I needed it.  We happily bashed politics together.  He was often silly and we traded jokes and stories of working as commercial artists in the old days.  I looked forward to his messages.

I can be critical of the virtual world we live in.  Young people are glued to their phones and tweet and repost stuff that doesn't matter.  At the same time, I valued my virtual Canadian friend.  The web gives us the chance to meet people across the world.  I think this is especially wonderful for artists who work alone and spend too much time in their own heads, and in Rand's case, even more important when he couldn't do art himself anymore. He was failing for a long time so his passing wasn't a complete surprise, but I feel the loss.

So when I think of the woman with the perfect life who has never lost anyone special to her?  Well, that's nice for her.  At the same time, I'm glad I got to know Rand.  I'm willing to have today's sadness because it's a sign we actually connected in a meaningful way.  And to all my other blog buddies, I value you too.  Thank you!

Monday, November 11, 2019

"Brain 2"

I got a project this summer with a vague deadline of "Sometime before Christmas".  Great!  I even started the 4 paintings in the summer but I ran into an obstacle.  I needed to go back to a previous project and take photos so old and new paintings would go together.  But you know how it is.  There was always something better to do, more urgent projects, my growing resentment that these started paintings laid around my living room and nagged me to finish them

I procrastinated and started writing a blog post about motivation.  I saw the irony.  I abandoned the effort to motivate others and can happily report I finally finished the before Christmas paintings, but maybe some of the following points can help you motivate too.

1. Make yourself responsible.  For my project, I know I would've finished it sooner if I'd set a better deadline.  I could've told a friend about my procrastinating and requested a friendly nudge in a week.  Knowing myself, I'd get it done before my friend would have to nag me because that's only considerate.  I'd call and proclaim victory instead.  I could write a deadline on my calendar.  You may figure out a way that work better for you -- then do it.

2.  Show up and set a routine.  When I went to work every day I worked every day whether I felt like it or not.  Maybe I chatted with coworkers over a cup of tea first, but I'd buckle down at some point.  An object in motion stays in motion.  An object at rest stays at rest.  If you want to accomplish things, do something.  Even the masters had days when they were just grinding out the day's work.  The grind work pays off too.  You get better at it and it becomes less of an obstacle on future days.

3. Don't get ahead of yourself by thinking into the future or hoping for a masterpiece.  Every project starts by picking up a pencil, opening a file, or some other very easy action anyone can do.  In the case of my delayed project, I didn't want to work on it because I knew it would to take a lot of time to do.  I quit thinking about that and opened my reference photos.  I just did a bit of the task before me.  After that there was less to do and that was less intimidating.

I'm pretty sure all of us procrastinate from time to time.  The point is we need to find ways that help us do the things we want or have to do.  What do you tell yourself when you're dragging your heels on a project?  I'll be happy to learn more ways to kick myself in motion when I need it.

Saturday, November 2, 2019


I managed more than 1/2 of the Inktober list which is more than I've managed previously so I'm counting it a victory.  Congrats to everyone who played!  Are we all more creative and disciplined now?

I always remember my great grandpa's advice, "To keep your brain you have to use your brain!".  His was working great even in his late 90s.  He learned new words from the dictionary, studied encyclopedias, read the Bible, and happily debated anyone who'd indulge him.  I adored him.  I snuggled against him, held his hand, and listened to anything he wanted to teach me.

I don't know if Great Grandpa was right about fighting senility.  Maybe?  Probably?  What I know for sure is there was a long period of my life where I wasn't very mentally challenged.  My friends talked a lot about diapers and school schedules.  I spent a lot of time focused on the bumper in front of me in my daily commute to work.  You know, all the basic stuff in life that doesn't really stretch us very much.  I had creative jobs, but even that's routine after a while.  I didn't notice my brain had gotten mushy.

National Public Radio (NPR) has existed since 1970, but I didn't discover it until much later.  Beyond politics, it has hour-long programs on subjects I didn't know about or care about.  One day, a host announced the subject was corn.  He said he didn't know how to fill the show with such a limited topic, yet the following hour was fascinating with history, selective breeding, farming, chemicals... I had no idea I wanted to learn about corn until then, and I was disappointed my friends didn't want to hear about it too.

Corn needs rich soil to grow.  Brains are like that too.  I didn't know my brain was mushy until I dated a guy who actually wanted to talk about the corn program.  It was like someone plugging in the Christmas lights.  Look at all the colors!  Look at all the other interesting things we can learn about and discuss!

My friends eventually got their kids housebroken and quit being sleep-deprived, diaper-obsessed zombies, yet some of them still didn't care about discussing corn or whatever topic was interesting me at the moment.  That's okay.  They laugh at me and we bond over other things.  I had room in my life for more friends who do enjoy NPR topics. 

I thought my brain was safe from mushiness until my boss died several years ago and I had to instantly learn how to do her job which included math I hadn't considered since I was in school.  I had to learn computer programs.  My brain hurt, I mean literally.  It actually hurt.  I think it was shorting out and I was the sleep-deprived zombie.  I self-pityingly repeated Great Grandpa's maxim in my mind as I fought senility with math.  I realized that while all learning is good, learning new things in new ways is even better.

The point is we aren't set in stone unless we want to be fossils.  We can teach old dogs new tricks.  We don't have to accept a 3rd grade teacher's assessment of our intelligence as a mandate for our entire lives.  It can be good to make ourselves uncomfortable in order to grow.

I drew the thistle for Inktober's "injury" because I pulled thistles out of my garden without putting on gloves.  Duh!  Clearly, I am not that smart about some things!  I picked thistle slivers out of my hands for a week.  Maybe I've learned to use gloves next time?


Doodling my brakes and calipers on an estimate for brakes for "Tread"

Saturday, October 19, 2019

#inktober and #inktober2019

I've been rather busy and haven't had time to labor over Inktober, and in a way, I'm happy about that.  I've scribbled little sketches and released them into the wild instead of fussing over them.  It's kind of liberating and I like the responses I've gotten especially the Rorschach responses to the one above for "dark" -- black hole, sea anemone, porcupine, Trump's stomach...  I don't have perfect attendance on this challenge, but I'm counting it as a success to have done about half of the word list.

I know I'm not the only one to struggle with perfectionism.  I try to remind myself of a past creative director's advice, "Don't make it perfect.  People don't like perfect!"  So true, but it kind of feels like having a wardrobe misfunction when we let people see our flaws.  Yet as I told that CD, "But I'm so much better than I used to be!"  I want points for personal growth!

In any case, since I have too many words from Inktober, and no new words from IF, I'll just let you look at my month of scribbles...



I sent this bit of minimalism to my fellow cheesecake loving friend for "tasty"...
She requested chocolate sauce.

See, it's all fun.  You can play too.  Go to Inktober's site here for more info.

Monday, October 14, 2019

"History 2"

I started writing a post last week, complaining about being responsible, irritated I wasn't off partying when I had a perfectly lovely invite to NY.  The US president, Turkey, Putin, and Saudi Arabia were giving me migraines.  I was annoyed IF didn't give a new word.

I threw up my hands, made a quick call, packed my bag in minutes, and left my aggravations at home.  I'm pretty sure it was one of my better decisions even though my deadlines look a lot worse this week.  What's the point of living if everything we do is responsible?

The leaves between here and there are starting to turn.  I'm sure the drive would be even prettier next week, but it was pretty enough.  I ate a hearty breakfast with my friend and admired the view from the cafe window.  I took her dog for a walk and shot photos of apples just because.  I woke to the sound of Lake Chautauqua lapping at the shore just outside the bedroom window and heard the birds calling.  I quit thinking about deadlines.  Mostly.  I vented my frustrations of world affairs with like-minded people, drank wine, and enjoyed a BBQ.

My friend suggested a trip to Roger Tory Peterson Instituteof Natural History.  I was only mildly interested in going.  I grew up with Peterson's field guides; Dad and I used them all the time to identify the wildlife that surrounded us in the woods.  I just didn't think of Peterson's work as very exciting.  It's anatomically correct images s of the minute differences between birds and such.  Important, but kind of boring.

To be fair, I was right about my expectations on the 2nd floor of the museum.  It's full of carefully painted, perfect variations of birds.  The ground floor far exceeded my expectations.  Peterson painted much more than his field guides.  One painting shows a dragonfly carrying off a hummingbird.  I loved a painting of a majestic golden eagle, oh wait, I love the next painting more!

There is also a current exhibit of Guy Coheleach's art which I also greatly enjoyed.  I turned a corner and felt my heart leap at a fish painting.  Awesome, lovely, how did he do that?!  I peered at his paintings with the full intent of stealing, em, being inspired by, some of his techniques.  I happily pointed out various paintings by both artists to my friend with the suggestion that any of these would make great presents to me.

I wandered the halls and felt happy in a way I haven't felt in quite a while.  The RTP Institute is devoted to natural history and art, 2 topics very close to my heart.  The pretty building is nestled in the woods.  I was with a dear friend and a teenage girl who was wide open to the experience.  The guy who tended the museum is a doppelganger of my recently deceased friend, with the same kind of Labrador friendly attitude.  We chatted over a tank of Hellbenders and he affectionately told us all about these endangered giant salamanders and even posed for a picture so we had evidence of his spitting image to Danny (which I unfortunately don't have as it's on my friend's phone).

Lesson for the week: when invited to do fun things, go.  Some responsibilities can wait.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

"History" "Ancient" #inktober and #inktober2019

The other day a friend called and asked for help raking leaves.  I warned him I was in shorts and he joked about my marble legs seeing daylight, asking what kind of columns my legs were.  I promptly replied, "Doric".  He laughed and said, "I thought so!"  I laughed because he understood my answer even though he didn't suffer through 4 years of art history classes in college.  Ah yes, nerd humor.

Every year I look on with interest at other people's submissions for Inktober.  I keep meaning to do something for it, and then, well...  Okay, I procrastinate and make excuses.  Yesterday, I found a pen on my desk I kind of like.  IF was days late with the weekly word, I saw the Inktober list, and the universe collided into actual action.  I'll sum up my expensive college understanding of Greek columns for both IF's "History" and Inktober's "Ancient".

The first "order" is Doric.  This is the simplest style with a square on top of the column.

The second order is Ionic.  This style is recognized by the big scrolls at the top.

The third order is Corinthian.  This is the fanciest style with leaves and other decoration.

Really, do you need to know any more than that about Greek architecture?  Yeah, you can learn more about their buildings, but I think this is all I've needed to keep in my long-term memory.  These styles were taken by the Romans and many other cultures.  The US uses them extensively in government buildings as a way to harken back to the first efforts at democracy with the hope for the timelessness and solidity of that ancient realm.

Part of me really wants to write about current political events in the US.  Another part of myself is screaming at myself to shut up about it.  Just let things play out and hope for the best.  Maybe the only real answer is to let a little of this leak out in this post?

We're living in history right now.  The president will be impeached.  That's a foregone conclusion because the House of Representatives has the numbers and intention to do it.  Then the matter will go to the Senate who has the duty to decide whether or not to evict the president from the White House.  The Senate is ruled by the president's party, so actually firing him is probably unlikely, but it could happen depending on what comes up during the trial.  I feel like I'm reliving my childhood during Nixon's impeachment.  I can't stop watching today's news just like I obsessively watched it back then.  I'm really tired of reality TV and wish for a calmer political climate.

I'm also very taken by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who passionately spoke to the United Nations about climate change.  She's right about it all.  The world leaders bicker about stupid stuff and don't seem to actually do the things they need to do to protect our world.  This too is our living history.  If something doesn't change I don't know if there will be anyone left to read about it in the future.  I wish her success in her mission and hope.

I don't know if I'll be diligent with more Inktober drawings.  I'll give it a try.  People of all levels of ability participate.  If you'd like to play, go to the site here.

Saturday, September 21, 2019


I keep a folder for dreams, not every day dreams, but the ones waking me up at 2:15 in the morning.  Of course they aren't always at 2:15, but a surprising amount of them are at that time.  I take notice when one of them comes because my subconscious is trying to tell something my conscious brain rejects or can't see.

I recently heard the best description I've heard yet to describe intuition.  Our conscious mind is slow compared to our subconscious brain.  Think of it like a computer.  Our conscious brain only uses the data and programs it needs to get something done.  Our subconscious is everything on our hard drive.  It's all our programming and everything we've ever experienced.

Say you meet someone new and you mistrust him immediately.  You don't consciously know why you don't like him, but you feel it in your belly he's a snake.  Your subconscious knows why you don't like him, but it's too hard to tell your waking mind all of the reasons why you should avoid this guy.  In an ideal world we'd just thank our subconscious for remembering all the warning signs and repeat the adage to always trust your intuition.

Sometimes I argue with my intuition.  Maybe everyone else likes this new guy.  Maybe I've been burned too many times?  Maybe I should listen to all those people who tell me to be more open and trusting?  Ten years later I might be kicking myself at the memory of how my intuition told me not to trust the guy.

But sometimes I get those 2:15 a.m. dreams that kick me in the head about something.  Then I'm more likely to trust my gut because whether I can explain it rationally or not, those dreams tell me something I need to know.  Of course sometimes apocalyptic dreams of tornadoes may not get me to really understand the coming storm is Tony, but the dream will definitely get my attention and make me think about things.

I'd rather have flying dreams.  They're just fun, but I'm grateful for the tornado dreams too.

Unrelated to dreams, I was frankly avoiding my dogless house one day and went to Goodwill where I bought wallpaper for my bathroom.  The walls in that room aren't the best and wallpaper covers a million sins.  The old paper was pretty tired looking and I figured I needed a project to keep my mind off things.

Stripping off the old paper went pretty well, but the new paper was miserable to put on.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Goodwill, it's a second-hand store that sells things cheap.  Sometimes you get what you pay for.  As I balanced precariously on the side of my tub and strained to reach the corners by the ceiling I decided I'm definitely getting too old for this kind of thing.  I think I'll live with this wallpaper forever.  Thankfully, I'm starting to love it.

Then, I decided to show off the new paper and decided to take a picture.  Well, but the grout looked kind of bad now that the walls looked pretty.  I spent a lot of time peroxiding the grout for your benefit.  You'll notice there's a lot of grout between all those tiles, but I figure this is the only time I'll be taking a picture of my bathroom :)

Next time I complain about plumbing you'll understand why.
This bathroom is really, really vintage.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

"Cabin 2"

Almost 20 years ago, I petted Stella, Bro2's roommate's nasty little Jack Russell Terrier.  "This dog is pregnant", I said.  "No, no", Bro replied.  Never mind he had an unfixed dog in his apartment as his humanitarian effort to help the overcrowded dog pound and Stella wasn't spayed.  Bro laughed at the thought they could even get it together since Stella was tiny and the pound dog was enormous.

Really, when are people going to start believing me when I say stuff?  About a month later, Bro confirmed Stella's pregnancy and begged me to take a coming puppy.  I had an old Dalmatian and didn't want one, but gave Bro a chance.  I typed 2 single-spaced pages of requirements and said if a puppy was born that fit all of these needs I'd take it.

I was very specific.  I'd had years of b/w spotty dogs so I wanted a brown dog with a long tail, floppy ears, black nose, female, small like Stella, but with the pound dog's nice personality.  I knew the puppies would be Pisces and demanded one with an Aries ascendant so it would be able to stand up to my grouchy, old Dalmatian.  I wanted a good bark for security reasons.  On and on and on.  I wasn't trying to be reasonable.  I didn't really want a puppy, but I got one anyway.  She was too young to leave Stella too, just 4 weeks old, but Bro was in the Navy and got shipped to Bahrain so I had to take her.

Since she was so young, I paper trained her.  That's a helpful skill for a dog to have anyway since it gives an option if I'm away from the house too long.  I've never had any trouble training puppies, but this was the stupidest puppy ever.  Little turds were dropped just off the paper.  Little puddles on my wood floor.  I'll admit, I lost my patience and screamed about this after a few months.  No puppy should take that long to train.  Then, I caught my evil Dalmatian dropping puppy-sized poops on my floor, just missing the paper.  At least then my screaming was at the right culprit.  It's my everlasting shame that I yelled at my puppy for something she didn't do.  I apologized many times about that.  The Dal quit messing the house once she was busted.

My puppy was a devoted little dog.  Once, I went swimming in Lake Erie with a couple of friends.  We left all of our dogs on the deserted beach.  The other dogs ran around the beach like dogs do, but my tiny puppy swam out to me through the pre-storm choppy waves.  I was pretty far out and didn't see her at first.  I swam as fast as I could to rescue her.  She was exhausted and lay quietly in my arms as I used my old life saving skills to get her back to the beach.  I promised I'd never leave her on the beach again.

She managed my schedule and told me when to eat, when to work, when to watch TV.  She kept the groundhogs and rabbits under control until she got too old to chase them.  She daintily walked around my art piles on the floor.  She happily went on my de-littering walks in the neighborhood and did some pretty serious hiking with me through the years.  She was always sweet.

The first thing I do every day is fill her food and water bowls.  Today, they weren't there to fill.  I didn't know how to start my day.  I forgot to eat supper last night and almost forgot to brush my teeth.  I keep expecting to see her under my feet.  I'm lost and sad because my roommate of almost 20 years is gone.  I held her as she died and she wagged her long tail.  I sang her our song, "I love my dog, I love my dog, and my dog loves me!"

Some people don't understand how tight we get with our furry friends, or see why we'd want to care for another who will always be dependent like a child.  One person told me to quit having dogs since my heart breaks when they die.  People like that can't feel the love and companionship my puppy gave me through the years.  It's worth today's loss, though I'll miss her more than I can say.  I hope she's there to meet me when it's my turn to go to the other side.

She did have floppy ears except when there were varmints in
the yard or I was taking pictures of her.
The art above is an old doodle from when she was young and perky.  It doesn't have anything to do with a cabin other than taking her camping, but then IF is still falling behind on Friday words.