Moving Ahead

I know I’ve been slacking off. It’s true, but there is a reason. A big funk, a big cloud of doom and gloom that settled over our house. There may have been sunny skies for the rest of Temecula, but in this house it was gray and cloudy. The unfortunate thing is that Dan and I hit the same rock bottom place at the same time, and sometimes there isn’t an umbrella big enough to make a difference. The other unfortunate thing is that it lasted for more than a day. I’m sure there are friends of mine that are happy that I was gone. Let’s face it, when you write every single day, and your friends have vowed to follow you, it becomes a bit of a homework assignment. So now that everyone has had a breather, and I’m forcing myself to see things differently, its time to write and create once again. Before I begin…

To begin with we are working hard and fast towards our business, the same one I have mentioned repeatedly here on the blog. The wait for a miracle is over. It’s official, we are in the process of opening a cafe/bookstore. So official in fact that we sought the advice of a lawyer, and bought some chairs! We are going to put our combined talents and interests together and get this thing moving. I have also mentioned my cooking. Its good, really, really good. We eat pretty much homemade everything, that is part of the plan. We own enough books between us to open a shop, but we will be keeping ours (because we love them so much!), and we will be opening an independent bookstore that carries new books. Our home reflects our personalities, warm, loving, friendly, and comfortable. Also a huge part of the plan. I’ve asked for karma and prayers here before, now I’m going to ask for something else. Our daughter was kind enough to begin a crowd funding campaign for us. We have preliminary approval for some business loans, but are short on start-up capital, in other words cash. If you’ve enjoyed my writing, my ranting, my self-pity, or my art over the last year, please consider clicking on the link below. You’ll see a little bit more of who we are, and why we are headed this way. We will be updating our progress as we move ahead. Thanks in advance even if you only take a peek.

By the way, Thank You to all who have been following me through out this year. There have been some pretty bad days, and just knowing that someone was listening helps more than I can say.

Many of my art projects in the near future will be to do with our shop. One possibility for our “to go” lunch bags. Pen and ink and color pencil.

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To Be Continued…???

I’m back. Posting just a little tonight. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving west is leaving our sports teams behind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sports fan. Actually if I never watched a sporting event again it would be fine with me. I think it has something to do with my childhood. My Dad played professional soccer when I was a kid. Every weekend my Mom would dress my sisters and I in matching dresses, frilly socks, with bows in our hair, and make us sit on the sidelines watching our Dad play. The other kids would be running around enjoying themselves, not us, we were like little matching dolls all sitting in a row. These days I’m just trying to be a supportive wife. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs, and if we want to see them we have to go out, and of course they went into triple overtime. We thankfully left before they lost. So here I am writing at ten when I should be going to bed.

I did manage to eke out a watercolor this afternoon. Still working on my super secret project that I can’t unveil as of yet.  The lovely Theresa came by today and gave me some beautiful tulips. I managed to paint them right before we walked out the door. Tonight is my last night of posting retrospective work. I’m still not sure now that my year is up how I will proceed with this blog. Lots of changes ahead in my life, most of which I can’t reveal quite yet, but I missed writing when I took the night off. I can’t promise myself that I’ll write every day, but I feel like its been something to hang onto in these troubled days since Dan lost his job. I think we know what we have to do. Making the plan is the easy part, jumping into it is a whole other matter. That may seem a little cryptic, but I will explain in time. Meanwhile, the last of my favorite pieces, and the first to head into the future. As for this blog and project? The title says it all.

4 17 14  Today’s work












photo Riley, one of my cats in pencil.





IMG_9711  The children’s play area that we built for the children at our daughter’s wedding.




image  The tabletop I painted based on a vintage French powder tin that I own.





Ab aeterno (4)  Altered Art. The photo is from a gravestone in Virginia.





005  A piece I did fairly early in the project. An ode to my artistic journey.

Marker on Bristol.



5 13  My faux brick wall, made entirely from cardboard. My most often pinned pin on Pinterest.




image  Pastel desert scene.






6 3 3 6 3 (1)  The “before” and “after” of a table I bought for $5. Wood burned design painted with pearl paints.






IMG_0831 Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet door. Canvas cut to size to fill the center. I reproduced the business card of the restaurant where Dan and I had dinner in Paris for our 20th wedding anniversary.





12 20 Riley once again in pencil.




IMG_3262 The sign I made for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas. Cardboard and burnt glue.





12 25 Custom designed Christmas fairy.





IMG_3427IMG_3430  More of the burnt paper and glue on a cardboard pencil box base.





2 7 14 (1) Polymer clay sculpting attached to a small cardboard box.





2 23 14 (2) Old window transformed into a memo station with mirror.




3 24 14 Another cabinet door.





4 4 14 (1) Antiqued mirror with one of my Paris photos tinted sepia.





There were a few more pieces that I love, but I’m tired. I think the triple overtime did me in.






Day 365

Today is day 365. I did it, a year of writing every day, of not giving up on myself, of pushing myself on days that I didn’t want to do anything, and keeping my promise to create every single day. In retrospect there are days when a bad mood, a bad attitude, laziness, or frustration presented itself in the work I produced. I can tell what days those are by looking at the work. I can also say that I am proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished. This blog evolved into a much more personal diary than I had ever intended. I have more to say about all of this, but as I’ve so often mentioned here on these pages, life sometimes takes turns that you never expect.

There was a tragedy in my family today. My beautiful niece was in the beginning of a new relationship. The young man was killed early this morning in a car accident. My heart breaks for her, I love her like she is my own daughter. I have no words to comfort her, and I am too far away to wrap my arms around her. I didn’t know this young man, I only saw photographs that showed two young people happy, and read messages on Facebook that made me aware of just how crazy he was about her. His brother was injured as well and is critical, he is the father of two young children. My heart bleeds for this family. I have asked for prayers before. I’m asking again. This time for some people I don’t really know, and for my niece. Ask God, whatever God is yours to help them through this terrible time, to bring them peace, to help that young father heal. As I told my niece a short time ago, hopefully she can find some solace in knowing that her boyfriend passed away at a point in his life when he was happy because of her. It is a day like today that puts so much in perspective. My life isn’t perfect, far from it, but many miles away from me is a lovely girl with a broken heart living a nightmare, and parents who are mourning the loss of one son, and praying for another to survive. I cannot even imagine their pain.

I’m still working on Maddie’s portrait. I redid entire portions of it, but I won’t be posting it tonight. I decided instead to go through this past years work and choose the pieces I’m most proud of. A retrospective if you will…later… I began to look at my work, and I did more pieces of work that I love than I was aware of. Tonight on a night when I think about life and it’s sometimes very sad turns, I will post portraits and figures, but on this page the three that mean the most. My son, my husband, my daughter. I love you all and thank you for your support and encouragement over the last year. A second post to follow with the rest.

Honestly, nothing seems important right now. I just want to say to my niece, “I love you. I wish it were in my power to make this all better for you. To change the last twenty-four hours. To give you whatever you need to heal. To give those two young men back to their families. I am praying for you all.”

IMG_03417 13 (4)




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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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?

Leave My Clock Alone

Spring back, Fall ahead. My head is spinning. I have had insomnia since birth. My parents tried everything to get me to sleep. Crushed sleeping pill and sugar mixed together on a spoon? Check. Shots of Chianti for a nine-year old? Check. They really did try everything, it just didn’t work. When I wanted a day off school all I had to do is pretend to sleep, my Mother thought I was ill. I still struggle nightly. I rarely if ever sleep through the night. I hate DST, you know Daylight Savings Time. I hate it so much that I refuse to reset the clock in my truck. I leave it be, my stubborn silent protest. Not that I don’t enjoy a little extra sunlight, and lovely summer evenings. I just want it to stay that way all of the time. I know it sucks when people have to get up early to go to work and it’s still dark out. I did it for many, many years. I would sit on the edge of the bathtub at five a.m. and bemoan my fate. I would actually moan aloud saying, “Nobody should have to get up this early.” The unfortunate thing for me is that when the sun comes up so do my eyelids, no matter what time I hit the sack. (I believe I may have been a rooster in another life.) This whole DST throws me off my game. It takes me weeks and weeks to adjust. In the mean time I wander through my day struggling to keep my eyes open, not to mention that when I’m tired, I’m hungry, not a good combination for me. That is when “you deserve this, you’re tired” makes an appearance. That is “not good enough’s” roommate in my brain. (Yes, there are voices in my head, most of them are very nice and offer fairly good advice.) I actually Googled DST, long boring explanation followed, I will not share, bore yourself if you must. So here I am after ten in the evening, which was actually nine just days ago. It is almost time for bed, but I’m not tired. I could stay up (I am sort of a grown up), but in the morning when the sun rises at seven a.m. my eyelids will open, and I will inwardly weep for the hour of sleep that is lost.

Today I had a really great compliment. I happened to run into Mia, whose portrait I have been working on. I also had my sketchbook on hand. I opened to Mia’s portrait and showed it to her, and asked if she knew who it was. “It’s Mia.” My day was made. When a two-year old can recognize them self in your work I think that’s pretty awesome. I worked on Mia’s portrait again tonight. She is just too cute to be shades of gray.3 11 14

My First Artistic Love

From the time I first realized that I had this magical ability to create art my favorite thing to do was to draw portraits. I’m very interested in faces, and in-spite of our youth obsessed culture I’ve always really liked the older faces better. There is something very appealing to me about the lines that age has created. When I was a little girl sitting in church I would examine the faces of the people on the return walk from receiving Communion. Based on what I saw I would decide if I thought the person was mean or nice. My Dad was pretty strict about behavior in Mass, we weren’t supposed to look around, we were supposed to look pious and stare straight ahead. At one point the three of us older girls had red winter coats with large attached hoods. In those days girls were required to cover the heads during the service, but with the red coats we could turn our heads inside without my Dad noticing. I don’t think there is anything more thrilling to a kid than thinking that they are putting something over on their parents. We were quite amused by ourselves.

I began to draw portraits in March of 1974. You may think its strange that I not only know exactly when, but also exactly who. It was Mia Farrow, she was dressed as Daisy Buchanan from the Great Gatsby. A few years ago when “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” had its first million dollar winner I was beyond excited. The final question, the one that would make the contestant a millionaire, was “Who graced the cover of the first People Magazine?” I knew the answer, it was the portrait of Mia Farrow that I drew. When I wanted to get into the art program in high school I used that portrait as an example of what my ability was. My parents wouldn’t let me take art. Heading into my junior year I had decided to take matters into my own hands. The teacher saw that portrait amongst other things and let me skip the first year of art. Later for my Art 3 senior project I drew a couple of portraits of the guys in the band Chicago. Although it was an all girl high school, it wasn’t the girls who went crazy for the portraits, it was the teachers. I think I actually gave the portrait of Robert Lamb to one of them. For years I drew from magazines, I loved the beautiful faces of the models. Later I began to make money drawing portraits of the children of people I worked with. I really don’t do enough drawing anymore, and particularly portraits. Tonight when I wasn’t sure what project I wanted to do I decided to return to my first artistic love, the portrait. This is Mia. She is the incredibly cute daughter of a friend. I’m not quite finished, I started a little late this evening, but I think I have a good head start. Of course with a subject this adorable it would be hard to go wrong.

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Labors Of Love

The windows, or should I say the window? Don’t ask. I have now spent days and days on it. I’m not done. I think it will be beautiful when I’m finished (apparently sometime around the end of eternity), but as I said last night, I can never charge enough to make up for time and effort. I think at this point I’m earning about maybe a dollar an hour on this one. Dan labeled it a labor of love today, and I couldn’t agree more. I love what I do, and I love to see the work come to life. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be finished with it tomorrow.

For tonight, a labor of love of a different kind. I looked at the photos on my phone, and I found a lovely picture of my friend Gabby, who just celebrated her tenth birthday. Gabby is a beautiful and special girl, and it really was a pleasure to do this drawing. I need to tweak it just a little in the morning, it’s now ten thirty and my eyes have called it a night. I’m excited for Gabby to see her portrait, which of course means that a portrait of Kingston can’t be far behind. (You know, the brother-sister stuff, can’t do one and not the other.) IMG_5597

My Constant Companion

Still in the process on the window projects. They are both turning into another of those pieces that I put far too much into with no hope of ever selling them and paying myself anything for my time.

I decided tonight to return to doing a little fine art for a project to post. A solitary figure in watercolor based on a rather out of focus photo of my son Brian’s performance as the town drunk in a high school production of “Our Time”. I think I was inspired by a conversation that Dan and I had earlier this evening. We talked about ourselves now that we are officially “empty nesters”, and are now alone. I had been talking to my Dad. He is eighty-one and living in an independent living home. It has been nearly seven years since my Mom died, and in those seven years my Dad has been desperately lonely. He made a few half-hearted attempts at seeing other women, but it never felt right to him. I call him every night, and have done so for the last seven years. I hate the idea of his loneliness. He is in Chicago and I am in California, the phone calls are the best way I can help him. He has often said that for him loneliness is the worst disease a person can have. I have to agree. I have spent a great deal of time alone in my life. The difference in my Dad and myself is that while he is a very social person, I am the opposite. I am a very solitary person, someone who enjoys quiet, and doesn’t mind being alone. I have always said that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. The truth is that I’m never really alone, I always have one companion, my art. I quit work twenty-four years ago to stay home and raise my children, and yes there have been times when I’ve been very, very lonely, but my salvation has always been my creativity. Without art, without creative expression, I think I might have lost my mind. I never really worked on my art, on the kind of art I wanted to do, but I used the gifts I have to do things for my children, to design my home, and to do the occasional craft show to contribute to our holiday spending. I’ll never regret spending the time with my kids (who are by the way, two pretty spectacular human beings), I do regret not giving myself a little love and attention along the way. I will always be grateful for the lifeline that kept me sane, gave me personal moments of joy, and I think gave my kids a rather special childhood. Art and creativity is so much a part of who I am, it’s been my place to hide, my place to express happiness, and my best friend when I had no friends. Now as I near the end of this year-long project I realize that I need to work a little harder to honor my companion, my talent, and continue to push myself to go far beyond this year, to realize my potential while I still can.2 17 14