A Quick Update

When I was a little girl my favorite show was Bewitched, you know she of the wiggling nose? Samantha only had to twitch that little nose and everything was magically in its place. I need that nose. I need that ability. We are still buried here at Chez Zuckerman. Our dreams of having our house up by August 1st are laughable. There is so much more to do that I am overwhelmed, overworked, over-tired, basically I’m over it. We are currently in the kitchen, packing and cleaning, and did I mention repainting the HGTV recommended neutral palette? The painting is done, but now we have to finish putting the room back together, less cluttered (HGTV), less personal (HGTV), essentially bare, boring, and not us. We have put a few pieces back on the walls, and of course books, books, and more books, but even those are whittled down quite a bit. We are racing the clock, and I fear we are losing. I woke at 4:30 this morning with a list racing through my brain. I jumped up, came down, and didn’t sit back down until nearly 7:30 this evening. (If memory serves me there was some implication that I don’t like work) I’m beat, Dan’s beat, our not so young muscles and joints are protesting, but we can’t stop. We can almost see the finish line. It makes me sad in a way. As tired as I am, once this is done the house goes up. We heard today that houses in this area are going fast, again good and bad. I don’t really want to leave, but we need to.  I’d just like a few more evenings in my beautiful garden before I have to say goodbye. Still no idea where we will end up. Just an update tonight. My fingers hurt as much as the rest of me. Enjoy your Sunday everyone, we’ll be here cleaning and packing. Here’s a shot of my beloved garden.




And something on the vine…I will miss it so

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Today was another good day. I think I have resigned myself to the loss of our home. No more crying about what I can’t change. Not that the day I hand over the keys won’t be a difficult one, but I also know that it will be the first day in months that I can breathe. This home I once lavished so much love on has become an insurmountable burden. We can’t move forward or figure out our future until it is gone.

Before I begin to write about today I wanted to write about Sunday. It was a wonderful day and deserves to be remembered. Sunday’s day of rest turned into a very long day, something we hadn’t counted on. Our friend’s flight was delayed, and delayed, and delayed, she didn’t arrive in San Diego until after midnight. I felt for her, it was an incredibly long day of traveling. As for Dan and I, the picnic was wonderful and long overdue. Good food, good wine, and an incredible sunset. Who says my life is bad? (I know… mostly me) For awhile we managed to forget about the not so great stuff in our life and focus on the moment and each other. Then when we realized that we had four hours to kill before the flight came in, we decided to splurge and go to a movie, Begin Again. A very appropriate title for us. It was also another enjoyable two hours that took our minds off our troubles.

I need to step back a day. I had an epiphany of sorts on Saturday. We were at the check out in the grocery store, I glanced over to the register next to us and saw a young family. That’s when it hit me, how much worse this could be. I realize we aren’t the only people in the world going through this, I’ve known that all along of course, but what happened on Saturday was the realization of how much worse this would be if I had kids to feed. I looked at this young couple and their kids and thought about what it would be like for them. This is a nightmare, no doubt, but it is just us, the two of us. There are no little stomachs going to bed empty. It makes you think.

Today… A really good day, another day when I’ve felt really happy for the first time in weeks. I mentioned that I was gathering art supplies for a local foster home. As I sorted through art supplies left over from my own kids days at school, I saw the little individual name tags that I painstakingly taped to each magic marker and pencil. Another epiphany.  There was a pretty good chance that the kids that I was giving the supplies to never had anyone tape their name to a pencil. This foster home is for kids who have been hurt by an adult in their life. It took awhile, but I removed every piece of tape from every pencil and marker. I want these kids to own the supplies, I don’t want them reminded of something that they may have never had. The further I got into cleaning the studio the more I wanted to give. In the end I had four boxes packed to the top, and a couple of bags. When I dropped them off the staff was thrilled. It seems they are in the midst of planning their annual art fundraiser, much of the art supplied by the kids. I had no idea, but when I left there I felt so happy, I felt like I had really done something positive. As I dig my way out of all of the stuff here at home, I’ve figured out a way to catch a breath, by making a difference in the life of a kid. I’ll be looking for more supplies to give away,  its good medicine for what ails me.

A few memories from Sunday to share…













The Things That Can’t Be Taken Away

No righteous indignation today, no steam to blow off, just some thoughts on what matters, and what I value. We are taking the day off from packing. We really can’t afford to. We are buried alive here, I think the crew from Hoarders should be here any minute. We have eleven years of living in this house, and there is also my stuff. Art is a messy business, and a business that requires supplies, lots of supplies. I am now nearly four boxes full for a donation to the nearby foster home, but that hardly made a dent. I will probably have to let go of more, but my creative brain is in full gear thanks to the reemergence of some long forgotten items. I only wish I had the time to create right now. Instead I have to content myself with thoughts of my artistic future, and write all of my ideas down before they become long forgotten. We decided to relax today because we are honestly a little overwhelmed and exhausted. As a souvenir from my eighteen years at the grocery store, I have tendonitis and carpal tunnel in both hands. My left arm began to hurt a few weeks ago, it is now a searing pain up to as far as the inside of my arm near the elbow. My knee(s) are unforgiving, and quite angry with me for the amount of time I have spent on my feet these last few weeks. Then there is Dan’s back. He of the “I’m fine, I’ll be OK”, gang has been (when he thinks I’m not looking) stretching out and rubbing his lower back.  We have been working nearly twelve hours a day to get this place on the market. We need a break, obviously in more sense than one, but today is the day. When I told my Dad last night he said, “You are burning yourselves out. It won’t do either of you any good.” He was right. Our friend needs a ride home from the airport in San Diego. She doesn’t arrive until 9:30 p.m. which gives us time to participate in a favorite activity of ours, a beach picnic. We haven’t had one in more than two years. Our last was on our anniversary two years ago, when I happened to rest my hand on the car door frame right as Dan was closing it. Ouch doesn’t even begin to cover it. Macgyver that I am, I splinted my thumb and fingers right on the beach using a couple of emery boards, and a band-aid I happened to have on another finger. I tried a brave front for about a half hour, then I caved and the picnic ended. I had broken my right index finger and thumb. A very memorable anniversary to say the least. We have been talking about a repeat ever since. As life would have it the time never came, until today. We are going to go to Coronado Island. For those of you who have seen “Some Like It Hot”, with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe, the Hotel del Coronado is where it was filmed. It is a beautiful place right on the water. We have had a picnic there before, where we can watch the sun go down over the Pacific. These are the moments that I speak of, the moments that can’t be taken away. No matter how much we lose, what we have is unbreakable, a love that has grown in the some of the worst of circumstances. What we have are these moments that we cherish together. A day on the beach trying to figure out the unknown. A picnic made from what’s in the fridge (which I can tell you isn’t half bad, I’m a Macgyver in the kitchen too!), and sitting close, our arms wrapped around one another as we watch the sun sink beyond the horizon. These days, and the memories we take with us, are the things that we will always have, and for that I will always be grateful.










Just one of many. A beautiful evening on the beach. There’s still a lot to look forward to in this life.

Reaching Out For Help

There was a not so old woman who hadn’t a clue, She was overwhelmed with packing and didn’t know what to do; She thought about spending the day in bed with the covers pulled up way over her head…   That would be me. I am overwhelmed. I fear I am attached to my “stuff”.  My brain is screaming, “Downsizing, downsizing, downsizing!”, while my heart is whispering, ” Oh, remember that?” “I love this.” “Brian/Jessica gave me this.” You can see it is an issue. There is also the stiff righteous rod up my spine that insists that I recycle. It truly is quite a conflict. I mentioned the other day that I was good at puzzles, you wouldn’t believe the vast amounts of stuff that has been stored in my studio. That’s what the other voice in my head is responsible for, the artsy one, the one who insists that I can use that scrap piece of metal/fabric/wood/paper. The thing is some of it has been lurking in the corners for years. Some of it tagged along for the ride from Chicago eleven years ago. I found a nearby home for foster children, a ranch actually, so I called them up and offered art supplies. They were more than happy to accept my offer. I believe my extra sketch pads, etc. have found a new home.

All joking aside, this is a very difficult process. We are packing, and preparing our much loved home to go to market. A troublesome process in general is exacerbated by not knowing where we go next. Time has more than run out. We can afford to live here another two months, that’s it, two months. We had hoped to start our business by now, but the situation at hand is complicating matters. We are trying desperately not to give in, or give up, but the days become increasingly more heart wrenching. I try to tell myself that there are so many people worse off than us, but the truth is that my heart doesn’t care what my head says. I heartbroken and tired. I am tired of the stress, the worry, and particularly the unknown. I am a self-admitted control freak who has landed in the middle of a personal tornado, unknown doesn’t work well for me. I need to know there is something for us somewhere.

Two months ago our daughter started a crowd funding site for us. I have mentioned it here before. Last week I paid for ads on Facebook to promote it. I also started a Twitter account starring our very own curious cat, Riley. Nothing seems to be working. A friend gave a large donation in hopes of inspiring others, but again nothing. I look every day hoping to see a change, but it isn’t happening. I suppose I sound hopeless, maybe some read my words and think I am full of self-pity. I’ll be the first to admit it, there is some self-pity going on here, but more than that there is great sadness, disillusionment, anger at what was unjustly done to my husband and his career. I love a good and decent man, I am a good and decent woman. We are kind, conscientious, nice human beings. We are lost in this nightmare. We want to believe that there is a future for us.

This is our crowd funding address: http://www.gofundme.com/8jgl04

I am offering prints of my work for larger donations. If you can find it in your heart to help, please.

Thanks for reading. No art tonight, but I will leave you with my Riley. No matter how tough things can be there are always moments, things that make us smile, Riley is one of them.



She’s Gone Missing

So I sit here as I have been for more than an hour pouring my heart out on this page, and then it was gone. I keep saying that things just can’t go right and here we go again. I will try to recall what I wrote…

She’s Gone Missing…it’s me. The me that I was discovering in the last year with this blog. If you read this blog you know our situation. It has been more than a year now and Dan is still unemployed. We are both unemployed. We have tried. He has had many, many interviews, filled out countless applications, and nothing. Dan has been the breadwinner of this family for most of our relationship. I contributed in a small way, usually around Christmas via small holiday church shows, but now I have been looking as well. No one wants to hire us. I worked at a grocery store for more than eighteen years, yet not even the grocery stores that I have applied to want to hire me. I think it has to do with our age. Most of the applications are on-line. I have put way too much of my personal information out into the cosmos in hopes that someone might call me. No one calls. I think they see a date at the top of the page and decide we are too old. If anyone would just take the time to meet me they would see that I look much younger than my age would imply. If they would give me a shot they would see that I am never late, that I err on the side of being early, that I am impeccable in my appearance and in my work ethic. They would see that he can help their brand, their product, succeed.
We are losing our house. We have been aware of the possibility for some months now, but we held on to every ray of hope, grasping with everything we have, but in the end…disappointment. Yes, we need to downsize, but not like this, not without a choice. This house that we worked so hard on, working to make it a home has become yet another weight pulling us down. We could do as some do and stay, stay and not pay and wait, but that isn’t us. We are ethical people, we are people who do the right things the right way, but that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It has hit us hard, but it is time to go. She’s gone missing, the girl who was finally finding her way, who was discovering the passion long since lost, she is gone. She is buried under the moving boxes and the dwindling finances. Buried under the stress and the worry, the sleepless night and nightmares. Stress and worry do terrible things to people. At night she reaches over to feel the movement of her husband’s breath rising and falling because she has lost so much that she is worried that the one she loves the most will disappear. There is no work tonight, there can’t be. The weight of our situation has filled my head and heart, there is no room for creativity for the moment.
I told my sister the other day that it is like a seesaw. One day Dan is down and I am up, assuring him that all will be OK, the next day it is me hitting rock bottom grasping his offered hand to pull me back up. Now we are adrift in our life, hanging onto each other looking for the hope that will keep us afloat. Situations like this can tear people apart, not us, we just hold on tighter. Next Tuesday is our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. It won’t be the celebration I dreamed of. Twenty-five years ago we were broke and decided to get married, twenty-five years later and things haven’t changed much. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. So we move on. We sell this house and take half of the money and roll the dice on our future, our business. There is one thing I still believe in, that’s us. I hope to have the opportunity to show people who we are, and how much we care.
I mentioned our business before, I’ve asked before, and I’m going to do it again. Our daughter set up an account to help us in our dream. If you are in any way inclined our appreciation would be immeasurable. I’m posting the link once again.


I will post a photo. A piece I did in Photo shop. It was meant as a gift to a friend. So many people in our lives have reached out with love, with prayers, with much appreciated financial help. I am a person who is quiet in their faith. Some people take that as non-belief, it isn’t, I pray every day. I pray not for my house or “stuff”, I pray for answers, I pray for those I love, I pray to understand. Hopefully someday I will.

A Gift

A few weeks ago when I hit the one year mark on this blog I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to take it in. I’m still not sure. My life has turned into something I never expected. It’s been a bittersweet week, and although I can’t explain what that means as of yet, it involves a major change. This blog has evolved from an art project into a daily journal of our life as a family going through the crisis of unemployment. Things had come to a head as of late and I was really feeling the stress of all of it. Things are no better as I write this. Dan and I are still looking for jobs without much luck. Just the other day I received a call back from a woman’s apparel store and was excited that something might be changing for us, but I didn’t get the job. The woman on the phone didn’t feel that I was qualified because I had never sold clothing before. That in spite of the fact that I worked customer service in a retail environment for more than eighteen years. I’m not quite sure what it is that she thought I was incapable of. I’ve been a wife and mother for thirty years, I have two grown children, I obviously have been in quite a few clothing stores, and have folded more than my share of laundry. In my job at the grocery store I handled thousands of monetary transactions, balanced daily sales reports, verified armor truck deliveries, and much, much more, but she wasn’t interested in anything I had to offer.

I’ve been losing faith. Faith in everything. Lately even my prayers are disrupted in my head by moments of doubt. There have been glimmers of hope, but I have seen them snatched away as quickly as they broke through the darkness. What has helped us through all of this is our deep love for each other, and the love and support of our families.


I wrote the words above three days ago and then I stopped writing. I quit, I let the weight of all of this get the best of me. I had given up. It has been so long since something positive has happened for us that I had fallen into a depression nearly as bad as the one I had suffered when my mother died. That was Friday. Saturday Dan and I headed down to San Diego. He has a job interview tomorrow and we were doing a little research on the product. He is well aware of the depths of my struggle, he is and always has been my lifeline. As we drove along I told him how much I wished something nice would happen for us, it has been so very long. Then we got the mail. Inside was a card from a friend. Inside the card was a gift beyond words. Yes there was money, not enough to start our business, but this isn’t about the money I found in the card, it’s about the hope. When I saw what was inside and read the words, I cried. It is enough to allow me to take a breath and believe in the future. We have gotten help from our families, they have been as generous as they can be both in support and varying amounts of cash. What made this different was that it was from someone who isn’t family, someone who knew my struggle and reached out to help. This person doesn’t want credit, and could barely take my thanks, but I have to be thankful to someone who gave me back my life, my hope, my faith. All we can do is move ahead. As our benefactor said, “Don’t look back, only look forward.”


So here we go. The burden feels a little lighter. Onward to better things.

As for tomorrow? Please pray for Dan for tomorrow’s interview. We need it, but in the mean time…The Curious Cat Books & Bistro is in the works. A few photos to share tonight, hopefully new art for tomorrow.

Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce











For lunch? Grape Almond Chicken Salad & Macaroni Salad











Afternoon Tea









and a late night cheese plate to share…

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Everything but the bread made from scratch.

Some Motherly Creativity

I took a couple of days off. We are still trying to figure out what to make of our lives these days. I read daily about how politicians want to cut funding for the unemployed. I read that people assume others don’t want to work, but they’re wrong. Some of those same people who rant against those who have less are the same people who would turn my husband down for a job because he is “too old”. Emotions and stress are running high around here. I find myself in tears at the grocery store because I can’t afford to spend an extra dime. We have more than many people, but that could change at any time for any of us, and these days it feels like its right around the corner for us. We are still working towards opening a business. It seems that it will be the only way to find work. Its terrifying but it is becoming the only option. It isn’t the way I wanted to do this, but we don’t always get to choose our path.

I haven’t really felt very creative, but I did push through my secret project. It was a scrapbook for my daughter and her husband. They just celebrated their first anniversary, and I wanted to give them something special. Sometimes I sure my kids must hate me, because sometimes I enjoy myself at their expense. Not in a mean way, but just because when its your Mom it tends to be embarrassing. Last year as Jessica and John were counting down towards their wedding I got a little creative with some photos of them. It started out as baby pics, but then graduated to full-blown Hollywood hits, movie stills altered with their image. I posted one every day for a month on Facebook. My personal Facebook isn’t public, so the embarrassment was contained. I’m going to post a few tonight with permission from my victims.


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There are more, but these are my favorites. Thanks to Jess and John for being such good sports.



I hope everyone who celebrates Easter had a wonderful day, and if you don’t I hope it was a great Sunday. Easter greetings from one of my cats, Sophie. We think she might just be part rabbit.Sophie bunny



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?

Creating With Heart

Before I begin my rant, and there will be a rant, I want to acknowledge that I have touched on the following subject more than once before. (If you’re interested 4/23/13 I Am An Artist, 6/15 What Makes An Artist, and 7/16 We Are All Artists) When you post every single day for a year, and your brain is as full of knowledge as mine (a nice way of saying I’m getting older), there will be times that I may repeat myself. I can’t remember every single thing I’ve written about, but there are things that I am passionate about and things that get under my skin and I just can’t let go. Two days ago on Facebook there was a post about a photographer named Vivian Maier. She was a nanny by profession, but also a gifted photographer. There is a new documentary about her that opens this weekend. Ms. Maier was an unknown talent until a man named John Maloof purchased a box of negatives from a Chicago auction house in 2007. (One more recommendation from me about something to Google!) This morning while reading the NY Times I came across a review of the documentary and some criticism about Ms. Maier. I have in the past touched on the fact that I have no formal art education. My only exposure to an art class was in high school, and well, it was high school art. My teacher thought I was gifted and didn’t give me much in the way of guidance. I had upon showing her my work been allowed to skip Art 1. I now think that may have been a mistake. I don’t know the basics, but at this point I don’t really care. I could always actually take a class or read a book, but I am me, and that means I do everything my way. Some of the criticism leveled at Ms. Maier was that she had no formal training, and that she didn’t print her own photos (which I might add would be difficult because she is deceased), thereby she shouldn’t be called an artist, and also questioning photography as an art form.  Two days ago I wrote a post about the judgements leveled by other people. Why the need to demean this work? Any five-year old can take a photograph, but with an artist’s eye? Last night we watched American Idol (Yes, I am part of that demographic that no one cares about but still watches) Keith Urban made an excellent point. He told one of the contestants that you can sing from your head or sing from inside yourself, you are still singing the same words,but the performance changes. (Not an exact quote but the general gist of what he was saying) I am related by marriage to a very talented and successful artist. I love his work. He has been fortunate enough to have training that I have not. I don’t envy him, I admire him and have told him so. There was a point in my life ( before the blog) when I would use his talent as a weapon against myself, to further the agenda of “not good enough” that resides inside my head. I made myself feel inferior, that and another member of this same family called my work “primitive”. I would say to Dan, “Look how wonderful and talented he is. What could I have done if I had his training and family support?” That is a ridiculous question, it is the question of someone who doesn’t believe in them self. These days my mantra is, “Look what I can do when I’ve never had any training.”  (Thank you Mr. Urban for inspiring the following thought) I could paint with all kinds of skill if I had the right schooling, but my skill comes from my heart, and is God-given. Who gets to decide who gets the title? I see quite a bit of work in museums that I really, really dislike. It’s still art. The creator of that work is still an artist. The terms “outsider”, “primitive”, “amateur”, are words that I find offensive. Vivian Maier was an artist every time she pushed the shutter button, I am an artist every time I pick up a pen, a brush, a pencil, or for that matter a frying pan.

OK, got that out of my system. I managed to finish a few things today. I’m only posting one because there are five photos to go with it. Another box, this one done with scanned images of vintage French postcards that I own, decoupaged on painted wood, trim painted in the wonderful Martha Stewart Pearl Paints (Love them!)

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Watching The Clock

Still a little breathless, but I feel like maybe things are getting better. Of course me being me I rushed things. (Explanation to follow) I am usually a very patient person. In fact my Dad always says that I remind him of my grandmother. The roof could cave in around her, and she’d look at it and say, “I’ll get to that tomorrow.”  I am that way about quite a lot of things, but when it comes to art I can’t seem to wait. It is really one of my biggest issues with oil painting. I have ruined quite a few great beginnings by turning them into mud because I couldn’t give things a day or two to dry enough for the next step.

…Before I continue I’ll explain the process. A wooden box coated in a light color paint, for this one I used a very pale gray. A reverse image photocopy from my home computer. I used a photo I took in France that I changed to sepia. One coat of decoupage medium. Place the copy print side down, top with another coat of decoupage medium. Here’s the hard part, for me at least. Wait twenty-four hours. (That’s like asking me not to breathe for a day) At the end of the wait period simply dampen the paper, wet but not soaking wet. Then rub the paper with your fingers. The paper will rub off and leave the image behind. Amazing!

I said last night the fumes prevented me from finishing my project from Tuesday. I went back to it today, knowing there were no fumes for the next step. Here’s where I went wrong, I was so happy with the results that I began another. (I’m an idiot, feeling the fumes just a touch. I am now publicly vowing to behave!) I’ll finish that one tomorrow. I’m not finished with the first piece as of yet, I’ll be adding some hardware, possibly some kind of feet to the bottom, and a small mirror piece in the interior. As for the second piece, no photos yet, but I did all four sides of the next box. All I have to do is wait twenty-four hours….

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