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!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

"Mysterious 2"

There were quite a few white apricots left over from the last food giveaway.  I took them home and canned them.  Since some people seem to hoard my pint-sized canning jars, I had to put the apricots in quarts.  I dislike doing quarts as it takes more hot water and everyone eating my bounty is a single person.  A quart of anything is a lot for 1 person.  Whatever.  The apricots went into the quarts and my single people snatched them up.

I also canned some papayas, but that meant I had to do 2 batches of canning.  When I took the jars of apricots out of the hot water, the water level dropped when I put in fewer jars of papaya.  Again, whatever.  I was hot and tired.  I just wanted to finish the steam bath I was getting on the hottest day of the year.  The jars looked sealed when I was done.  Since I'd run out of room in the kitchen, I put them in the outside sunroom to cool.

A couple of days later, I decided the sunroom was probably too hot for the jars.  I brought them inside and ignored them for a few days.  After a while, a not quite unpleasant and mysterious odor seemed to be in the kitchen and I couldn't find the source.  I also got invaded by carpenter ants.  Now, I'm betting you see the connections in this story.  I didn't.  I went on an increasingly frantic ant murdering spree until I picked up a jar of papaya and saw it was swarmed with ants.  The lid had popped off and there was an interesting, bubbling science experiment inside.

Stomp, stomp, stomp, compost fermenting papaya, wash everything... there were still ants.  I was losing my mind about then.  I finally found a second jar had exploded papaya all over the crowded table, the chair, the floor... There might've been some cussing.  Sooo, lesson for the week as stated by one of my apricot recipients, "Don't experiment with the rules of canning!"  Excellent lesson.  I'm hoping the ants died from botulism.

Properly canned papaya and apricots

On a happier note, I've been painting more flowers.  Bro2 said my other flower painting made him think of chakras, so I did this painting with that in mind.  Per Google, chakras are "(in Indian thought) each of the centers of spiritual power in the human body".  You can think of that as energy flowing through your body.  When all is healthy and good, it flows in a direct line bottom to top and you radiate joy.

You may have noticed some people aren't radiating joy.  They probably have a blocked chakra(s) and ought to meditate on the blockage.  Chakras are like Maslow's hierarchy of needs.  Each chakra is color coded.  From bottom to top:

root (red) - safety, stability
sacral (orange) - joy, sensuality, emotion
solar plexus (yellow) - will, power
heart (green) - relationship, love
throat (blue) - expression, communication
3rd eye (purple) - clarity, wisdom
crown (white) - transcendence

I have to wonder where black carpenter ants fit into the pretty chakra rainbow?  My flower has quite a bit of white in it though, so maybe I've transcended my cussing ant murdering spree?

Just in case

Saturday, July 20, 2019


I'm sure a lot of mysteries will be explored with this week's word, but I guarantee you there is nothing more mysterious than plumbing, and I'll bet you didn't even think about it lately.  Your plumbing probably works as intended.  It's like aliens, you don't have to think about them unless you see a UFO.  You can go to church and the preacher doesn't even mention the subject that knocks grown men to their knees with muttered or shouted exhortations and imprecations at God.

My house is nearly 100 years old, and the plumbing is just as ancient.  Quality stuff for its time, but that time is long gone.  Though not usually a praying type, I said a stream of fearful prayers as I turned off the shutoff valves in the basement.  It worked on the hot.  It took some cussing, muscle, and tools (including a hammer) to force the cold.  Heavy sigh of relief.  Okay then.  More whispered prayers as I trudged upstairs to the tub.

I've had a minor drip.  I figured something needed a new washer.  This should be easy, but I know from past experience it isn't.  I took off the handles, then the escutcheons.  I'm showing off here because I know the right word for the decorative piece that hides the hole in the wall, something I learned from previously humbling experiences.  Anyway, I removed the escutcheons and recoiled in horror.  Someone had filled them with plumbers putty which was impregnated with black mold.  I knew I'd smelled mold before!  I'd cleaned everything and thought I was going crazy.

I disposed of the moldy putty and peroxided any remaining toxins.  I took apart the hot faucet, screwed in a new washer and breathed a sigh of relief.  I took apart the cold faucet and put on my puzzled face.  That doesn't look right.  It's not the same as the hot faucet.  Be that as it may, I replaced the washer and put the faucet back in the wall.

I suspected the center handle was where my problems really lay.  I took that apart and it looked like the cold faucet...  I won't bore you with all the details and the much trudging up and down basement stairs.  I replaced the washers in the sink since the water was off.  I got everything back together and prayed some more as I turned the handles on the shut off valves...  and panicked because the cold handle wouldn't turn on.  More muscle and tools... I have a minor drip in the tub which is slightly more minor than when I started.  If I really use muscle I can turn it off entirely.

The sink faucets shrieked when I turned on the water, but they worked fine.  I considered living with the shrieking, but I went to the hardware store to buy different washers.  A helpful man opened a drawer and showed me his array of brightly colored circles.  "1/4", 1/4",1/4",1/4"" he said as he pointed to 4 different sized washers.  "That makes no sense!" I exclaimed.  Nonetheless, each is 1/4" even though I don't understand why.  The nice man offered to sell me a variety package for $5, 1 washer looking to be about the right size.  That meant $10 of washers to fix my sink?  Grrr.  But far be it for me to question the divine rules of plumbing.  I picked 2 sizes from the tray and spent 29¢ each instead.  The sink no longer screeches.

I don't know if I can handle tempting fate again on the tub mysteries.  I'm certainly not calling the last plumber who must've been the one to pack my escutcheons with moldy plumbers putty.  My best advice is if you can relate to any of this it's time to brush up on your prayers or buy a new house.

The part used for both the cold water faucet and the shower diverter.
I'll happily accept advice from plumbers who know if I should replace it on the cold water.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Electricity 2"

For idle entertainment, I did this flower over a previously rejected painting.  I took it with me when I went out for drinks with a couple of my buddies.  They're going through issues and I thought we all could lighten up.  My friends enthusiastically told me to paint more of this kind of thing.  Hmm... I pondered.  They like this, but they studied my hide and seek paintings much longer.  I put heart and soul into those paintings where the flower was just for fun.  Fun doesn't feel important (except it is).

Bro2 went back to an old job where he's appreciated and happy and has time for philosophical conversations.  Bro agreed with my friends.  He likes this painting too.  He said he can imagine someone filling a wall with my flowers.  I saidI find this ironic as he often paints over his whimsical efforts, and I like his happy paintings.  I snatched one before he finished it because I was afraid he'd paint something black and dismal over it, bleeding dragons or something.  Aren't you the pot calling the kettle black?  Bro said my brain was unloading subconscious thoughts, chakra colors... Besides, the flower wasn't hard to make so make more of them.  Maybe?  What do you think?

Our conversation led to politics, a subject on which we don't agree -- except we do in most things except for whom we actually vote.  We both value environmental issues and education.  We agree our government isn't working for us little people.  We believe in the separation of church and state.  We agree President Doofus is a narcissistic liar.

Life would be more agreeable if we stuck to our agreements, but no, we talked about guns.  Bro owns them and wants to keep them.  I don't think he's going to shoot anyone, so I don't care he has them.  I care about is psychopaths shooting up schools and children who die because their idiot parents don't practice gun safety.  I think background checks and reasonable restrictions are appropriate.  Bro thinks Democrats want to take away his guns.  My hunting relatives share his fear.  I don't think the politicians understand this is a make it or break it issue for a lot of people in my neck of the woods, and Ohio is a battleground state.  Gun control people push moderates to vote for Doofus.

At some point in our conversation, I passionately talked about the connection between prior domestic abuse and spousal murder.  Background checks can save lives.  Guns isn't my issue, but protecting people is.  I'm furious Epstein got off so easily when he was previously convicted for abusing girls.  I hope he rots in prison for the rest of his life on the current charges against him.  It's just a matter of time before we get evidence Doofus knew about, or even participated in, Epstein's pedophilia...

Bro made the point that my outrage gets in the way of making an effective argument and I'm not going to win anyone to my way of thinking with this approach.  Harrumpf.  I sputtered about how nobody cares about facts anymore.  Doofus says no collusion or obstruction a million times and people believe him despite Mueller's report citing hundreds of Russian contacts by the Doofus campaign and many, many instances of obstruction of justice...

Bro is right.  This isn't a winning approach.  We agreed gun education would be helpful in a country that's going to keep having guns whether we like it or not.  I'm thinking of painting flowers.  I'm glad Bro is at a happier job where he has time to challenge me on both art and politics.

Sunday, July 7, 2019


Back in the early days of electricity, my grandma's small town had a community refrigerator.  Each family contributed to its purchase, and each had a designated area in a chilled room which was the size of a small store.  This fascinates me.  Can you imagine leaving your supper someplace where anyone could touch it, take it, sneeze on it?  I imagine everyone was considerate and cooperative.  Those people knew how to work together and helped each other in a million different ways.  Some people fantasize about living in a castle, I think about the community refrigerator.

I obviously don't want to sacrifice my personal fridge to walk to a store for my food every day.  I just want to experience a gentler time when people are nicer.  Maybe I'm dreaming as much as the people who want to be Cleopatra in a past life.  Maybe people have been and always will be a combination of saints and psychopaths, but I bet they at least acted nice if they needed help to raise a barn?

I was instructed to create a 70s kitchen for this illustration in "Mensa Bulletin" magazine (which printed in the same article with the boy I posted a couple of weeks ago).  This isn't the kitchen I grew up with.  Our kitchen was from the 50s or before.  I aspired to a 70s kitchen.  I wanted a Harvest Gold side by side refrigerator with ice cube and water dispensers in the door, but the multi-generational wisdom of my family is all appliances should be white.  White is always in style, goes with everything, cleans easily, and matches replacement appliances.  This is ultimately sensible and kind of boring.  I admired my friends' colorful kitchens.  I wanted to be in style too.

Suddenly, Harvest Gold was out.  Eyes were rolled when anyone saw it.  So passé!  How long are you going to keep that?!  Something significant clunked in my mind.  If the refrigerator is still good, why replace it?  Because some nameless person decreed you had to spend money?  And it wasn't just the appliances, you had to buy new clothes too, and probably a car.  Throw out everything you own and get new stuff that looks exactly like everyone else's new stuff!  Conform!

Except for a wild college moment when I painted my rusty refrigerator with school bus yellow Rust-Oleum, all my appliances have been white.  Maybe boring practicality is in my DNA.  I still get ice from a tray and water from the tap.  I don't want a Harvest Gold anything.  Certainly not an orange countertop.

Grandma said ignore popular styles.  Buy classics of quality.  They last forever and you'll always look right.  Excellent advice.  A little boring like the white appliances, but very sensible on a budget.  She said the key was to accessorize and dazzle with a sparkling personality.  She was a very smart woman.

Maybe part of her wisdom came from growing up with a communal refrigerator where it was bad taste to show off?  Neighbors had to get along.  If someone else was having a hard time, give them a hand.  Grandma kept her values when she moved to the big city of Akron, Ohio and was happy hobos marked her sidewalk during The Great Depression indicating she'd give them something good to eat.

Grandpa thankfully had a solid job, but maybe Grandma could afford to hand out sandwiches because she didn't follow fashions?