One For The Books

082 I’m sure everyone who reads this blog knows by now that our upcoming business will involve the sale of books. I may have even mentioned it myself. (After two hundred plus blogs I sometimes forget what I’ve talked about!) Dan had an e-reader, it came in quite handy when he was flying for business. When he got an  iPad he passed the e-reader on to me. I never used it, not once. We probably have upwards of three hundred books in our home. We are readers, our children are readers, and that makes me very happy. I like the feel of a book in my hands. I like to open my cookbooks and see crumbs in the crease of the binding. Books are magic. They can transport us from our everyday lives to the other side of the world. A good book can touch every human emotion. They can make us happy, sad, scared, enlightened, and take us to places we never knew existed. Yes an e-reader contains words, but there is something so special about a book. Have you ever picked up an old book to find an inscription inside? When I give my grandchildren books I want to be able to write a message inside the cover. I want to bend the corner where I left off. I want to highlight the sentence that spoke to me. E-readers have their place. It’s just not my place.

My daughter was invited to a baby shower recently. Along with the invitation she was given a book-plate. A small sticker to place inside a book for the new baby, but what I really loved about it was that it offered the giver of the book a place to write why they chose that book. I think it is an extraordinary idea to share something so precious. To be honest I would have a hard time picking one book for this assignment. For tonight more book-plates for our business.

I also had the pleasure today of dressing two very special friends for Halloween. To my favorite zombies, Gabby and Kingston, I hope you had a lot of fun tonight.





10 31


Mea Culpa

Two days of ranting about the collections of others, and…oops, I forgot the snowmen, my snowmen. To make matters worse, I have a Winnie the Pooh snowman, and a Mickey Mouse snowman, and Hallmark snowmen. In my defense the snowmen only make an appearance once a year for Christmas. I believe at this point there are more than one hundred of them. Here I can proclaim some innocence. I bought a few vintage snowmen probably twenty years ago. The next year I bought a few more, and then the next year, and so on, until I had a “collection”. Then, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this dilemma, other people got in on the act. I started receiving snowmen from everyone. Those closest to me understood that I love vintage things, and it received some beautiful old pieces, but there were others who assumed if it was a snowman I wanted it. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that it is really awkward to receive a gift that someone is sure you will love and it’s just not your taste. When it’s an addition to a collection it’s even worse. You feel guilty if you don’t display it. Trust me I’m not an ingrate, I stress and feel guilty over the smallest things, and I appreciate the gift. The problem is that the collection has gotten out of control. I will admit that I enjoy taking them out every year and arranging them on my cabinet. So there it is, my Mea Culpa, my apologies to all the collectors that may have been offended by my rant.

My friend Karen posted a question to me last night. I mentioned that I might use my illustration of the hand-held mirror for the Ladies room for our business. Karen asked what I would do for the Men’s room sign. A project was born! A vintage shaving stand. I actually do own one, but to give credit where credit is due, I found a photo on Google images and sketched that. A pen and ink illustration. Thanks for the question Karen.10 30

One Of My Favorite Things

I apologize. For what you ask? For last night’s rant about the collections of mass-produced “stuff” that other people have in their homes. I was plagued with Catholic guilt for the better part of my day in the off-chance that I may have offended someone I like. Forgive me, in my defense I believe I was so traumatized by the death of Bambi’s mother that I have a phobia of Disney characters. There is also my deep-seated rage caused by the song “It’s A Small World.” I don’t know of a single person that can hear that song and not want to commit murderous destruction of a marionette. (Puppets also creep me out. Topic for a later post). An ear worm of the worst kind. I can almost visualize it, like the earwig in The Wrath Of Khan, (Star Trek movie). So forgive me, it must be obvious By now that I have issues.

Last night I also wrote about my own collections. I had intended to paint today, but other pressing pumpkin carving issues got in the way. I looked at a few of my collections, and trust me there are many, and finally settled on a hand-held mirror that I have owned for about twenty-five years. It was a gift from my mother in law upon my engagement to Dan. It is one of my absolute favorite things. One of the things I appreciate about vintage items is the workmanship. These days of mass production just don’t make items like this mirror anymore. I actually own four hand-held  mirrors, but again, this is my favorite. A pen and ink, along with some pencil shading. I am thinking it might be just the thing to put on the door of the Ladies Room at our new place.10 29

A Matter Of Taste

OK, so I once again made an empty promise to myself. I didn’t begin working on my project until after seven tonight. As always I had the best of intentions….no excuses, just didn’t get to it. I did however spend a great deal of time putting my work in my new presentation portfolio that I received as a birthday present (thank you Dan). My old portfolio is at least thirty years old, the plastic pages were cracked and the zipper quit years ago. Over the last few months I have accumulated quite a bit of work and it needed a home. I still need to get extra pages for the new one. I am proud to say it is full right now. For my project tonight I began another acrylic painting. I so loved the results of my vintage shoe form painting from the other night that I have decided to do a series of paintings based on some of the vintage collectables I have. Warning: If you collect anything thing that has the name Bradford Exchange, Village 56, Thomas Kinkade, etc., you might want to stop reading here……………….. Have they gone yet? I mean the Disney people, the Precious Moments people, the people who collect any of the previously mentioned highly collectible, mass produced…crap. Sorry, I just feel that way. I don’t want to acquire number 121 of 500 of this year’s Christmas Village. I would never deny anyone the right to their own taste, but I really just don’t get it. I have seen just about every Disney movie because I have children. I love the classics, I particularly like the Genie in Aladdin. Robin Williams was great. I love Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid and Cinderella. The Seven Dwarfs creep me out, particularly Dopey, he reminds me of a friend of my Dad’s when we were growing up. (Let’s see if my sisters know who I’m referring to.) My favorite character has to be Winnie The Pooh. No reason, just look upon him fondly. He was our high school mascot (be nice, it was an all girl Catholic high school, Pooh was as manly as we could get) I like Piglet, Eeyore (who I believe may be part Irish. I believe this based on my previously mentioned theory of glass not half full, not half empty, shattered on the floor because I’m Irish), and love the rest of the crew of the Hundred Acre Woods too, but not enough to have them on my fireplace, or on my toaster, or my bath towels, or God forbid, my pajamas. I had a Pooh collection once, but I was seventeen not forty. Again, I will defend your right to personal taste, but Precious Moments, really? I’ve been in houses where it looks like the gift shop at Disney World. I’m sure that these same people would come in my house and look at my vintage wooden shoe forms, and my McCoy Pottery, and the rustic industrial stuff and think it is…crap. That’s OK. Actually my Dad said something years ago about my house. He said it was full of shite (Irish for, well I think you can figure it out) I heard this from one of my sisters. He found out that I heard it and called to apologize.  I was quick to agree with him. I said, “Yes Dad, I know, and it’s my shite and I like it.” I don’t think he knew what to do with that. I ‘m not offended if someone doesn’t look favorably on my taste, its mine, remember the “no peer pressure” I wrote about last night? I meant it. I like being different, I don’t want to have the same house with the same stuff as everyone else. I hope I haven’t truly offended anyone. (I feel Catholic guilt creeping into my brain as I write.)  Anyway…I have some very interesting, well-worn and well-loved pieces. I think they deserve to be preserved for all eternity, or at the very least until my grandchildren throw them away. I only managed to color block a canvas for the painting, nothing worth posting, so I decided to throw another old favorite piece of art on the blog. Many, many years ago I came across a photo of Donald Sutherland in a magazine, his face was emerging from the dark. I loved it. A pencil portrait.

10 28

My New Year

I’m not a New Year resolution kind of girl.  The whole new year to start over by making promises that I and the rest of the world won’t keep, just doesn’t work for me. I was never a person that went along with what everyone else was doing. Peer pressure? I don’t get it. Even as a teenager I got angry when someone else tried to tell me what to do. I have always liked being an individual. I decided today that I will make my new year from birthday to birthday. I feel like I’m well on my way to making change and progress in my life. I’m six months into my 365 project, and at over two hundred posts and art projects, I think I’m finally fulfilling a lifetime of empty promises. My resolutions for this next year? To see this project through. That’s an easy one. The other is to open our business. That is a huge project. We are under no delusions about the amount of work ahead of us, but we are both in the mind-set that we need to move ahead. Yesterday’s stolen iPhone was just the cherry on top of six plus months of not great luck. Dan and I are quite talented together and I think it’s time to begin making our own luck. That and there’s nothing I love more than a new space to decorate, I’m itching to get my hands on our shop. We have some small pieces ready to go, and some roughly halfway there. This is the first week of getting our act together. I’m excited about this next year, and hope to make this next twelve months the best of our lives.

Today I saw a photo in The New York Times that really appealed to me, but since I have vowed to only use my own photos for my work, I instead asked my always supportive husband to pose for me. The photo in the paper was a woman, I have instead painted a man. There was an anguish in the body language that spoke to me, as I said we haven’t had great luck lately. Maybe I should have painted a picture of me hunting down the thief that stole the phone, or of Dan and I sitting in our business. ( You know, for visualization purposes) Funny thing is I’m not even angry anymore, I’m ready to move past it. As I said yesterday I’m trying to let stuff go. There’s always something else to focus on, like being happy. And on that note, in my woe is me I had a crappy birthday post, I failed to mention that Dan cooked an incredible Greek dinner for me, and that he and the kids gave me lovely gifts, but what’s more important, they wrote very supportive words of love and encouragement for my art. There’s always a silver lining.10 27


Happy Birthday…To Me

Another year passes by. Another year older, and hopefully wiser. I’d like to think that I’ve become a better person this year. I made the decision to not be angry, and for the most part I’ve remained pretty level-headed. I also, thanks to this project and blog have been trying to make myself a priority for the first time in my life. I’m still struggling with it a little, still putting too many obstacles in my own path, but they are getting fewer and fewer as time goes by. Here is my birthday wish, I want my children to be healthy and happy, and I would like to find myself a year from now buried in work with Dan at our business. Nothing spectacular, just simple wishes for health and happiness.

Today could have been a better day. Dan and the kids went above and beyond in making the day as special as they could for me. Unfortunately some other people in my life seemed to have forgotten that this should be a good day. There was also a very troubling incident in our life this morning. Dan took me for coffee, set his iPhone down and forgot it for a minute. Someone stole the phone. I have written before to remind people that you never know what is happening in the life of another person. To the person who stole Dan’s phone, I don’t understand taking something that doesn’t belong to you. Every action has a reaction. My husband has been out of work for six months. He was waiting on a call about a job, the call is supposed to come to that number. You didn’t just take our phone today, you took some hope along with it. You made what was starting out to be a nice day into a day to be upset. You had a hand in ruining my birthday. I hope it was worth it.

Every single day is a workday, today was no exception. A little drawing for myself, and to use in our business. Pen and ink.

10 26

Scar Of The Heart

Nothing funny about my words tonight. They are inspired by my own life, and something that has been in the news and on my mind. There has been a story in the news lately about a young girl who killed herself. She was being bullied at school, reached a breaking point, and threw herself off a platform at an abandoned cement plant. I am the mother of two, I cannot imagine the anguish and pain of that girl’s family, but what haunts me more is the desperation that would drive a child to do what she did. I cannot stop thinking about her. The anonymity of the computer has allowed people to distance themselves. It is easy to write something awful when you don’t have to look the person in the face. It saddens me to the core to think about that little girl, she was only twelve. I wish it were just a matter of closing Facebook accounts, or shutting down emails, but it isn’t. It is amazing to me how thoughtless people can be with what they say, or how they say it. Insults cloaked in “jokes”, as if somehow calling words funny lessens the pain. It doesn’t. Saying something spoken doesn’t mean anything, you are wrong, it does to the person hearing it. I have had words spoken to me, or about me, that are well in the past, but live in my heart and mind as if it were today. It isn’t about holding on to the past, it is that the words hurt enough to brand themselves into my heart. I was bullied, I know that girl, I could have been her, any of us could be her, any of our children could be her. I have heard words spoken that cause me pain as they are inflicted on someone I care about. I feel powerless in their presence, there is no weapon in hand for me to knock away, I can only stand and listen as the air around me is poisoned. Don’t speak, stop and think. Parents need to choose their words carefully, think about what you say to your children, because they are yours does not give you license to inflict pain. You are the foundation of your child’s self-esteem. Even as we age we look to our parents to approve, to respect, to love us. Physical wounds may heal, but scars of the heart are permanent. I don’t believe that we can ever harden our hearts enough to make them invincible, or that we can ever grow old enough to not want to be loved, or cared about. Words are an easy weapon. Be watchful in anger, or in frustration. Choose your words wisely, when there are spoken words, an apology cannot erase them, and written words once read speak as well. Remember that what you say could very well be the last thing you say to someone. Living with words that were used to hurt another can scar your own heart as well.

For tonight there are words. Hateful, nasty, awful words, branded into the heart. I love words, but not those I have written here. Once again I turn to the words of another.

The Unspoken word never does harm.

Lajos Kossuth

This is dedicated to Rebecca Ann Sedwick. I didn’t know you, but you were worth far more than you realized. Rest In Peace.10 25

One Foot After Another

The title of my blog tonight is reflective of both how I have been approaching this project, and also happens to be the title of tonight’s piece of art. In terms of the blog it has to do with the many days and nights when something gets in my way. Whether it is housework, illness, holidays, family commitments, or just me getting in my own way, I just keep plodding through. On days when I feel defeated because my work isn’t coming out as I want it to, or days when I feel just a little lazy, I put one foot in front of the other and work through it.  I realize that there are nights when someone might look at my work and think “Really?’ I know its true because there are times when that person is me. I know when I’m not at my best, and I know when I am producing just to produce. I made a promise to myself today to start earlier in the day. I know I’ve touched on my procrastination in the past, but I woke this morning feeling very out of sorts and in need of getting my act together. I’m getting tired of myself. Lots of ideas, not as much action. I think we have fallen into a funk around here. Time to take charge.

Although there are times when last-minute homework comes out really well. I started the piece for tonight at about five this evening, I stopped to make and to eat dinner, I think sometimes I work well under pressure…

One Foot After Another. We have a collection of vintage shoemaker forms (I think I read The Elves And The Shoemaker too many times), and some really cool iron pieces that I assume were used to hammer on the soles of the shoes. It’s a collection we never set out to have. I found it piece by piece. My favorite is the small shoe form. I walked past them today, as I do every day, but today I felt inspired by them. I actually have been looking for a project to do on a long narrow canvas I have. It is 8 x 24. I love odd sizes of canvas, of course framing is an issue. Thank God my husband loves me so much. Dan is always the one who ends up doing the framing. He is lovely and patient just like Jessica. Acrylic on canvas.10 24

The Reality Of Making A Plan

A few definitions courtesy of Google.


1. A detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.

2. An intention or decision about what one is going to do.


The world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.

This is my life. There are plans, and then there is reality. Today is Wednesday. It is the day that I set as a deadline to work on my portrait of Jessica. It was a plan. The reality is that I have too many projects occurring at the same time. This does not matter to Jessica (the portrait, the real Jessica is lovely and patient), I feel the portrait of Jessica giving me the evil eye. I made a silent promise to it today that I will visit soon, and before Halloween when this whole thing would be just too creepy.

My Grandfather clock/bookcase. Another plan. The reality is that I need Dan to help me with it. Dan has hurt his back. (Just a little for those of you who care) The reality is that I should not be allowed anywhere near power tools that may remove appendages from my body. I actually like my fingers. I am a smart capable woman, I am also a complete klutz. Any project that requires a saw shall remain undone until my partner is feeling better.

Plan B

A watercolor of some Hollyhocks.


Boring. Been done, no need to repeat.

No plan. I begin to wander the house looking at the messy piles of art supplies that are now in every room. No plan. I make my way into the garden, sneaking by portrait of Jessica and hope she doesn’t see me. (I believe I’m developing a phobia) There are supplies in the garden too. They are neatly arranged, because Dan neatly arranges them. I see a piece of wood. It is a cast off. Too small for a shelf or much else. I have an idea, something that has been on my mind for several days. I think I know what I want to do, but then I begin to use watercolor on the wood. I wasn’t even sure it would work, but it does, beautifully. My intention was to paint the wood to look bruised, it doesn’t look bruised, it is soft, it flows gently into the grain. The wood has plans of its own. There is a knot in the wood. The plot thickens, my project changes. I have made it known that I am just a little intense about trash and recycling. It occurs to me as I watch this scrap of wood begin to change, that it might have ended up in our trash. It was too small for anything, well anything except art. I use a lot of paper. I recycle all of it. Would I throw away this much paper? No, that would be a crime in my house. The knot in the wood appears to me as an eye. A living thing. This piece of wood was a living thing. The evolution of a piece of art. No plan, just the reality of all that we, that I, waste. This simple piece of wood that began its life as part of a beautiful tree. Reborn. Making a statement. Sometimes I don’t have the words, and then I look to those who are wiser than I. Thank you Mahatma Gandhi.IMG_1848


Just Say “Hello”

I have decided that there are two kinds of people in the world. There are those that say hello, and those who put their heads down, or avert their eyes, all in an attempt to not acknowledge their fellow human beings. We live in Temecula, which essentially means we are living in a tourist destination. I don’t mean that in a bad way, there are some pretty beautiful places in the world that have been turned into living nightmares of junk and fast food, Temecula is not one of them. We have I believe over 60 vineyards here, and our Old Town, a place that still has wooden sidewalks and historical plaque on nearly every building. Beautiful weather nearly year round, and settled in between San Diego (less than sixty miles), and LA (roughly 85 miles), an hour from Disneyland, less than that to Legoland, and about thirty miles to the Pacific Ocean, although there is that pesky mountain range in the way. In other words, we have it really good here. We should all be walking around feeling pretty lucky. Now I realize that stuff happens, it is still happening in my own life, but basically we Temeculan’s (new word, just made it up, clever right?) are very fortunate people. Dan and I walk every morning. We walk through our subdivision and one across the street from us. We walk anywhere from thirty-five minutes to an hour. In the course of those walks we run into a handful of people. There are some people who greet us with a smile and say, “Good morning.” There are those that suddenly become very interested in their phone, their dog, a speck of dirt on the walkway…anything to avoid looking at us and having to say hello. It’s strange. We are not bad people, nor do we in any way resemble the extras on The Walking Dead, we are just regular humans. What really puzzles me are the ones that do say hello, but say it in the most begrudging fashion, as if we have forced them to do something against their will. We saw a woman this morning on our walk. She couldn’t really avoid us. She didn’t appear to have a phone handy, or a dog to use as an avoidance prop, she did have a few small children walking ahead of her, but too far ahead for her to use as a shield, so she had no choice but to say hello. The look on her face said it all. We bothered her. Somehow we offended her.  All we did was smile (the horror!), and say “Good morning.” I have no way of knowing what is happening in that woman’s life, but she was walking down the beautiful streets of Temecula with some pretty cute kids, on an absolutely gorgeous morning. Like I said, I think there are two kinds of people, the kind that ignore you and the kind that don’t, but if you can’t return a smile, I guess I’d rather you find a sudden interest in studying cement texture in the sidewalk than looking at me as if I have a problem. OK, now that I got that off my chest….art.

Two years ago for Christmas I received a beautiful little cabinet from Dan for Christmas. It was a great gift, it was the kind of gift where I saw it in a store and…bought it, called Dan, and  said, “You can give it to me for Christmas.” Like I said, it was a great gift. From the minute I saw this little cabinet I thought, “Grandfather Clock”. Now that we are embarking on our business I am taking all the ideas that have been laying in wait in the recesses of my brain and putting them into action. The crib/ bench was one of them. The next idea is my Grandfather clock/bookcase. The cabinet appears to have had glass in the door at some point in its life, but when I bought it the frame on the front was empty. My partner in life and in creativity, aka Dan, helps me bring my ideas to life. We went to the store and purchased wood to create a bookcase to put under the cabinet. Today we made that bookcase, and then laughed our behinds off. The bookcase is fine, but when you put the cabinet on top it becomes a clock for the Jolly Green Giant. It has to be eight feet tall. What can I say, sometimes I just don’t think. We need the bookcase, so it won’t go to waste. (Without the cabinet on top it is six feet tall.) Tomorrow we will be returning to the store to create the four-foot bookcase we need. Dan also cut a panel from MDF for the frame opening. It is my project for tonight. The clock face for my cabinet. I can’t wait to make the smaller bookcase in the morning and add it to my cabinet. I have some really great ideas to finish it off.10 22

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