As The Mind Wanders…

I think I could be my own soap opera. I have enough family drama (when will our fortunes turn around?), suspense (will there be a job???), heartache (my daughter may move away someday, more about that in a minute), humor (between my husband and my sister Colleen I have more than my share), romance and passion (We’ve been happily married for nearly twenty-five years for a reason), sadness and sorrow (a lot to list, but no more than most people, so tonight we’ll let it go)


As my hands are occupied with creative endeavors, my mind is free to wander about flitting from one subject to the next. I started out the day feeling ambitious. I had a plan…plans.  We started the day with an hour walk. My mind was racing with details of what my day would entail. Got home, showered, dressed, and went to work. I spent the day opening a second shop on etsy, “Pywackett Vintage”. An homage to my in-laws whose Chicago antique store shared the Pyewackett part of the name. I’ve only listed five items so far, but it is a detailed pain in my backside process, and I had other stuff to do as well. The stress and worry that come with unemployment make every day its own little drama.


Still waiting, waiting, waiting, for the email, the text, the phone call that will let us know what is going on with Dan’s possible job opportunity. Waiting for news is always the hardest part.


As I did dishes I began to think about Jessica. Her husband John is a journalist. There is always the chance that he may get work elsewhere. Right now they are only forty miles from me. I thought about how upset my Mom was when Dan got the job opportunity that led us to California. There was much talk about companies “tearing apart families”. She actually took off her wedding band and put it on my finger “in case she never saw me again”. I had to remind her that I was only moving to California, a little more than seventeen hundred miles away, where as she left her family in Ireland. A mere 3657 miles, across a big giant ocean. I was moving less than half the distance she did. When I think about the possibility of my daughter moving far away from me it breaks my heart. It makes me think about my Mom and how she felt, and how much I didn’t get it.


Colleen is still the funniest person I know. I don’t think I’ve ever had a phone conversation with her that didn’t include at least one giggle. When I’m with her I find it difficult to not end up crying from laughter. And then there is Dan. Despite our troubles, he makes me smile every day. He does all kinds of goofy stuff just to get a response from me. It’s really very sweet because I know he is as worried as I am.

Romance & Passion

One year of worry, stress, fear of financial ruin, anger, frustration, and bewilderment at the way the world treats an extremely decent, hardworking, compassionate and kind man, and nary a harsh word. We love each other as much as we did twenty-five years ago when we prepared to get married. You always hear or read stories about how love turns into friendship or doesn’t last, I’m here to say that it isn’t true. When you find the “right” one, your soul mate, your one and only, it doesn’t end, it only gets better. Despite all of our troubles we laugh together every day, we kiss every day, we hold each other every single night as we go to sleep. We weather every storm together and hold on even tighter.


I know I said I wasn’t going to mention anything, but I think I need to say this. I still miss my Mom seven years later, and (although I talk to him sometimes as much as four times a day), I miss my Dad. Jobs take us from our families sometimes, and that’s life, but it also takes us away from those we love and hold dear.

In all I ended up working on several projects today. I began another cabinet door project with another of  Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet doors. It doesn’t have enough done to make it worth posting. I also began another pencil portrait. A few weeks ago I did a drawing of Mia. This is Mia’s beautiful older sister Maddie. A very preliminary sketch, lots of work yet to be done on it.

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Our Place

No news tonight, no complaints, just some thoughts on an observation from this morning, and how it relates to the kind of business I want us to have.

I was getting dressed this morning and knowing it was going to be 90 degrees today, I looked in the back recesses of my closet. I pulled out a shirt I haven’t worn in years. It happens to be a shirt that Dan bought me in Paris. We actually didn’t spend a lot of money there. We aren’t souvenir type people. If anything we had hoped to come home with something from a Parisian flea market. We unfortunately went to the wrong one, unless of course we were millionaires. The furniture was incredibly beautiful, and incredibly expensive. On our next trip (Don’t know how, don’t know when, but it will happen!), we will do our research and make sure we know where we are going. What we did end up buying was a sweater because I am always cold, and in the same shop the shirt I am wearing. We also purchased a shadow puppet for Jessica at the Musee d’Orsay. We had seen the collection of Theatre du Chat Noir (forgive me if I’ve gotten that wrong), incredibly intricate shadow puppets. Jessica is a graphic artist and loves strong imagery. I knew she would appreciate the design. Imagine my surprise when we got back to our apartment and discovered the sticker on the back that said, “Made in Chicago, Illinois”. I kid you not. It struck me as so funny. I flew all the way to Paris to buy my daughter something from her hometown. On the next to last day I mentioned to Dan that I had been admiring a second shirt in the window of a clothing store near where we were staying.  We went to the shop and purchased the shirt. That night as I packed my suitcase I noticed the tag inside of my new shirt, “American Rag”, the same brand as my jeans from Macy’s.

The world is becoming so interconnected thanks to our unbelievable ability to communicate, but at the same time I feel like something is being lost. I traveled with Dan on and off on business trips through the Midwest. I loved all the little towns, the shops, the local flavor. I think it many ways it is being lost. Now no matter where you go there is a Target, a Walmart, a Home Depot, etc…even in Paris I ended up with items I probably could have gotten back home. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love antique stores and flea markets so much. Pretty much everything is one of a kind.  I want our place to be the shop that everyone will think of as “their place”. I hope to make every person that walks through the door as welcome as they feel in my home. I want it to be a place, like my home, where people want to stay awhile and put their feet up, enjoy some really delicious food, a good cup of coffee, a good book, and some interesting conversation. (Now all I need is some money!)


As has happened before my art tonight is inspired by a photo I saw in the newspaper. I didn’t copy exactly what I saw, but definitely the feel of it with my own little twist. Something simple, I’m feeling nostalgic tonight.


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A Change In Attitude

A change in the atmosphere? I’m not sure what it is, but today was the first day in quite a while when I spent the day feeling hopeful. Still no news on the one job that may still be in the works, but we are pursuing some financial options for our business that look very promising. There is also another plan in the works. Dan and a friend have an idea for another business, something that could prove to be very successful if they can get it up and running. There are two things about it that I love, one is that it should bring money in quickly, the other is that it would allow Dan to continue to work with me on our business. It’s literally down to the wire around here. Something has to work!

I’m also surprised that I feel as good as I do because I’m exhausted. I was up early on Monday, didn’t make it to bed until 12:30 Tuesday morning, up at 6:15 a.m. yesterday. I should have slept well last night but I didn’t. I went to bed at around 10:30, slept for maybe twenty minutes and then…wide awake. I laid there for at least a half hour before giving up. I came downstairs and used the time to do research for our business. My mind is racing with ideas and possibility.

I actually have two projects tonight despite the fact that I’m falling off my feet. In a flash of brilliance (if I do say so myself) I came up with a quick project to turn two vintage plinths into book ends for our upcoming shop. We ran over to the office supply store and grabbed a couple of metal bookends, added some glue, and there they were. There is a little bit of the new metal showing underneath which I plan to address. I’ve been pricing out bookends and they are really expensive. I’m going to need a lot of bookends. This project inspired me to see what else I have that can serve the same purpose.

I’m craving oils once again, but unfortunately my respiratory system is still not up to par. I am only days away from the end of my year. It may just end up in watercolor. I did a small one tonight of one of my Giverny photos. Dan and I are both longing terribly to go back. We went to Paris for our twentieth wedding anniversary. We are a little over ten weeks away from our twenty-fifth. We had hoped this would be the year, but things change. It will certainly be a different anniversary this time around.


First Steps

Today was a day to plan the future. We spent today on the hunt for a possible business location. It’s harder than you might imagine. There is a lot at stake here, and finding the right spot is essential. The entire process of opening a business is both exciting and terrifying. It is however a dream that I have had for many years. Now it is a dream that must become a reality if we want to find a way to earn a living. That may sound melodramatic but at our age people seem to view us as too old to be of any use. Dan has had his age come up repeatedly in interview after interview, and has been asked more than once if he can “keep up”. One of my friends has a husband just a few years older than us who has been out of work. He is a hardworking man who knows his business. He is also in excellent shape. He continues to play softball with his sons and their friends who are in their twenties. He recently had the opportunity to pick up some part-time work. The young man who was interviewing him for the job actually asked if at his age he could still climb a ladder. Trust me this man does not look his age, and looks in much better shape than your average thirty year old. My sister lost her job in December. She is one of the hardest working women I know, and she can run rings around people half her age. She was turned down for a job because the interviewer was concerned about how much longer she could work. She is only fifty-three. As we move forward in this business I will be going out of my way to look for the kind of mature responsible employees that my sister and our friend are. There’s a lot we can teach some younger workers about how things need to be done.

I have an upcycled project for tonight, but as so often happens I forget to take the “before” shots. (I guess I’m getting old.) An old cabinet door front that has been given new life as a shadow box. I left the door as it was found, just a little cleaning, and built a box to attach to the back. I gave it one shelf right in the middle. On the bottom I added another small vintage wooden shelf. I painted the interior in a dark maroon. The perfect place to display some of my pottery.

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The Things That Mean The Most

Lately I seemed to be a little obsessed with money, probably because we’re running out of it, but as I look around my beautiful home I know it’s only stuff. The things that are important to me are the people I love and care about. Dan, Brian, Jessica and her husband John (Happy 1st Anniversary to them today!), my family, and my friends. If I lost everything it would be ok as long as I have them. I’ve made it my mission in life to let those I care about know it. When my Mom died I was devastated. She passed away on a Sunday morning. That night my Dad went out to dinner with Dan and I, and our kids. While we sat at dinner talking about her I said that I hoped she knew how much I loved her, and my Dad replied, “Don’t worry, she knew.”

I always go above and beyond for the people I care about. I know when it is my time to leave this world my children will miss me, but I am also sure that they will know how very much I love and adore them both. I am by nature a thoughtful and generous person. Unfortunately in my adult life I have found that who I am sometimes intimidates people, women in particular. Several years ago I was seeing a therapist and when I talked to her about the way the women in my neighborhood were reacting to me, being mean, snide remarks, etc., she told me to stop showing off. I don’t do things to show off, I do things because I’m nice. I happen to have creative skills and I am grateful for the talents I was born with. I enjoy making gifts for people, and I have a passion for cooking. Somehow that gets misconstrued as me wanting to make others look bad. To be honest I let it bother me for a very long time. Now I don’t care anymore. If people don’t take the time to know me and realize what a truly generous person I am then it is their loss.

What got me off on tonight’s rant you ask? It happens to be the birthday of one of my very good friends, who also happens to be a neighbor.  I don’t have a lot of friends. I tend to be a bit of a loner, always have been. The few friends I do have mean the world to me. I met Lori at one of the neighborhood parties eight years ago when quite frankly no one was talking to me. I was on crutches, just days after surgery for a torn ACL. She saw me standing alone, got me a chair, something to eat and drink, and kept me company for the rest of the evening. I never forgot her thoughtfulness or kindness that night, and she has been consistently the same loyal friend since that night. Today is Lori’s birthday. She is here for dinner, I made one of her favorites, arugula with a balsamic dressing, pan seared medium rare steak, Parmesan cheese tuile and a horseradish cream sauce. Dan made some delicious salads with large tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto. I made her a cake, Devil’s Food with a homemade Dulce de Leche butter cream with a touch of sea salt. Like I said, I like to let the people I love know it.

IMG_6578 IMG_6571 For tonight, something else for Lori. A portrait of one of her other dearest friends, her dog Cocoa. (I should say a portrait in progress)

HappyIMG_6573 Birthday LorIMG_6569i!

Taking It Easy…

I had planned on taking it a little easy today after my marathon crafting and painting. It is also the first day of my self-imposed fume free week. Taking it easy wasn’t so easy. Actually it was forced on me and not in an enjoyable way. I woke at three o’clock this morning not feeling well. Something I ate last night did not agree with me. I’ve spent the majority of the day on the couch sleeping on and off. Only nine more days until I hit the one year mark on this project, and today like others before it when I didn’t feel well, I’m pushing through to get something up. Pen and ink is the obvious choice, no fumes and completely doable while sitting on the couch. I can’t promise much for this evening, but I promise something.

As for yesterday’s show, I think I’ve finally learned my lesson. I had a nice comment and some suggestions from a fellow blogger which I agree with. I know there must be a way to discover some local art shows. We do have a local art society. I checked it out a couple of years ago but then never followed through.  I think at the time I didn’t have enough confidence to put myself and my work out there. I feel like I’m ready to try again.

So here is my very little piece of art that I doodled for tonight.

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At the show, and the fact that I have time to write tonight’s post should give you some inclination of how it’s going. Not a customer in sight, this despite the fact that I am between an exit door coffee/ice cream stand. I was assured that this was a successful show in the past, but not for me. Oh wait, I did make one sale, an adorable little girl came by and was looking longingly at one of my zombie ornaments so I sold it to her for a dollar. What can I say? I’m a sucker for kids. It’s really disappointing. We didn’t get to bed until nearly twelve thirty, got up at six fifteen, and have now been standing on my feet since about eight fifteen this morning, it’s currently 12:27 Pacific Coast time, two and a half hours left to go. I know I’m in the wrong place, if you were to look around me you would see quite frankly momentous amounts of crap. I’m talking manufactured merchandise, the toilet paper cover crafting that I abhor, and a lady trying to sell massages. An “art show” it’s not. I try not to judge the work of others, but I know that my work is heads above what I’m seeing. I always swear I’ll never do another one of these school shows, but I thought maybe I could add a little to the family finances. I’ve gotten several comments on my work, “Beautiful!”, “You’re so talented.”, etc., but no one seems to want to pay the price. My pieces are always marked less than they are worth (insert lack of self-esteem here), but still people don’t seem to want to buy them. It’s hard, I’m tired, I’ve worked really hard for nearly a month, and I just wanted to succeed a little. I need to learn from this, and discover where I belong. I need to find better shows. I’m not sure how, but I guess a little internet investigating is in order. As for today, I can’t wait to go home and get off my feet. Tomorrow everything will go on etsy. I probably should have done that in the first place.

It is much later in the day, 7:15 in fact.The earlier blog was posted by accident…oops, from Dan’s iPad. So the result of all my hard work? $68 Whoopee!!! After five hours of standing on my feet, weeks and weeks of hard work. We took my meager earning and went out to dinner. Our feet hurt, I was understandably upset, and we were hungry. No new art to post tonight but some I haven’t posted yet. Taking the night off. I deserve it.IMG_6551 IMG_6549 IMG_6548 IMG_6547 IMG_6546 IMG_6545 IMG_6544

Nothing to choose from right?

Last Minute Projects

I’m on deadline, and as always happens the night before a show, I am nowhere near ready. I lost my man Friday, because it is after all Friday (So sorry for that. I assume we all know Robinson Crusoe, right?), anyway Dan had a job interview that turned out to be a waste of his time. (It’s never good when the person interviewing you tells you he needs to be armed because “people” want to get him) As much as he needs a job, this is one I’m not sure I’d want him to take.

I’m a procrastinator, one might say the queen of procrastinators, but not this time. I’ve been working every day, but with so much on my mind my creativity has been hit or miss. I’ve messed up quite a few projects, started some that won’t be completed, killed myself with fumes, but in the end what will be, will be. I always think I won’t do well (you know the Irish broken glass on the floor thing), occasionally I do very well, sometimes terrible, shows are like gambling, sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not. I made an attempt to cut the mirror for the “Mirror, Mirror On The Wall” piece. I bought an inexpensive door mirror for another project and I had more than half left over. I broke the mirror four times. Hmm four times seven, another twenty-eight years of bad luck for me, oh and Dan broke two, another fourteen years, added to my twenty-eight equals forty-two. OK, so we’ll be unlucky until we are dead, what else is new, although I did manage to break four mirrors without slitting my wrist, or needing a band-aid, and trust me that is progress, and more importantly… Success! Dan finally cut a piece of mirror without breaking it.

Sometimes in the midst of the chaos (which would be my kitchen at the moment) something great happens. I love aging mirror. You know when the glass is old and the silvering is disappearing? The patina of it is gorgeous. I was messing with a mirror that I bought at the thrift store a couple of months back. I was aging it with chemicals (so cool!), but it wasn’t turning out exactly as I wanted. Then I turned it over. Beautiful! I added one of my photographs from the Eiffel Tower, which I had changed to sepia, painted the frame in metallic black, and I love it. It’s one of the best “night before my homework is due” projects I’ve ever done. Now comes the hard part, selling it. Everything I do is one of a kind. Especially when it is the “accident that turned out incredible” kind, I’ll never be able to do it again.

Short post tonight, work still to be done, but here is my happy accident, and my frame with a mirror.

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Return To The Past

My writing has been a bit dreary as of late. I decided today to forgo any and all complaints, and instead write about my curiosity with human nature. I think I’ve mentioned once before my fascination of why people are who they are. I was reminded of it this morning when I was choosing what to wear today. I have a plaid black and white blouse. In fact I always seem to have a black and white something in my wardrobe. When I was a little girl my Dad took our clothes to the laundromat. (A momentous occasion I assure you) It wasn’t his habit to do the laundry, but I believe this particular incident happened around the time my youngest sister was born which means I’d have been five at the time. Dad put the wash in and went next door to where there happened to be an Irish pub. While he was at the pub the laundromat went on fire. Amongst the clothes that were in the laundry was my favorite dress, a black and white check with a red bow at the collar. I remember being very upset at the loss of that dress, and all these years later I still love black and white. It makes me wonder what little occurrences happen in our lives, some when we are too young to recall that shape the people we are to become. Wouldn’t it be interesting to visit our younger selves and discover secrets of why we are who we are? There is a book about what kind of advice that you would give your younger self, but the truth is that our journey makes us who we are, both the good things we’ve done and the ridiculous antics of our youth. I like who I am. I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes and some fairly stupid choices. I’ve also made some really spectacular choices. I’ve reached my age with a wonderful husband that I adore, two amazing children, and a very good man as a son-in-law. Any change that I would make in my past would change what became my future. I’m not interested in going back.

No boxes tonight! A return to fairyland. The show on Saturday is to benefit a Christian school. I came up with a new design for my fairies. My Mother would say a prayer with us at bedtime. It was the prayer she knew and said as a child. My Dad has a different prayer, one that his mother said with him. When I called him not long ago to get it he was rather upset with me for not knowing his mother’s prayer, but as I pointed out to him it was Mom putting us to bed. My new design pays homage to both. My fairies kneel before a prayer, half dedicated to my Mom’s prayer, half to my Dad. Some fairies, some elves. One day left to prepare, and I can’t wait, because I’m tired!

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Just finishing up a twelve-hour work day. Still plugging away at having as many pieces as possible for Saturday. We’ve put all our decisions about whats next in our lives off until Sunday, too much to do. Dan has been a tremendous help, he is sort of like my artistic sous chef. He preps for me on many of my projects and with finishing work as well. We really do make a terrific team. I was mistaken, because the one plan that we are talking about is our business. It is past the time when we need to take control of this situation we are in. We are both intelligent, hard-working people. We are also very determined people. I no longer want to watch Dan give his all to people who don’t appreciate his efforts. I want us to do what I know we can do, and that is succeed together. No more self-pity. Time to take a leap of faith in ourselves.

In amongst all the things I have picked up over the years was an old plaster frame. I haven’t looked at it in years. I pulled it out the other day and took a good look at it, it screamed, “Mirror, mirror on the wall.” This was a Disney piece just waiting to happen. Tomorrow I will attempt to either find a mirror or cut one to fit, although with my history of accidents…

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