Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Touch of Fancy

Our annual convention in Chicago this year. Eight long days of problems to be solved, catastrophes to be averted, new personalities to mesh with the old. This is the eighteenth convention I've planned and for some odd reason this year I decided to make myself a special box for the odds & ends I keep at my work space. As the crates were unlocked today, there it was. My fancy box all shrink wrapped in blue. It had been several weeks since I'd seen it and as I unwrapped it and put it on the table, I felt so satisfied.

I wonder why it took me 18 years to introduce some art, some fancy into my long week.

Our staff office looks very dismal, waiting to be unpacked.

Here's the box that added some fancy to the room.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Office Environments

I'm in my office. Our new employee is in the office next door to me. She's an editor who whisper-reads everything she edits. She talks to herself in full sentences and this morning, I found out she's a whistler. If I have one more cup of coffee I may just scream at her.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Terrific Turkey

The temperature has dropped for a few days and it’s heaven. I have a hard time remembering what it feels like to be cold. It always surprises me how quickly I can forget heat and cold. I suppose that means I am in the moment. I like to think that anyway. I kicked off the cool weather with a new recipe called Terrific Turkey Chili, except I had to make it with lean beef. Apparently another turkey recall had the butcher asking, “May I interest you in some especially lean beef?” It was either that or buffalo and the price differential was significant. Still, it really is a terrific recipe. I had roasted some fresh Hatch chiles the other day, so those were used in lieu of the canned variety. Big hit! Tiny slices of zucchini sautéed with spices were also included. If chili can taste fresh and light, this is it. Robust with spices, but something about how things worked together made it taste so fresh. Maybe it was the zucchini, maybe the fresh chiles, maybe it was loving the 60 degree evening.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Junk Mail Friday

I haven't cooked dinner all week. I'm waking up at 4 a.m. every morning. So what am I doing with all this extra time that my stressed life gives me? This week I've been concentrating on junk mail, as in a junk mail artist book.

I've been taking junk mail, covering it with gesso, then layers of transparent watercolor and plan to use these pages to make a book. I'm far from finished, but here are a couple of the pages. Not too impressive, I agree, but they look better in person and gathered up in a book form.

One thing for sure, working on this has been much better than dwelling on work!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

And it's Only Thursday

This pretty much sums up my week. Work related. Self-inflicted. I've got to get a grip, release it and move on. Oh, I'm so ready to move on.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Faces 101

I'm in Day 1 of Faces 101 with Carla Sonheim.

Way too much fun discovering what a little blob of watercolor and a few pencil marks can get you!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Random Creature

Random watercolor marks will eventually a creature make. So many steps to enhance and define, I won't take you through them one by one.

Just Wa-la! My first creature.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Who knew scribbling could be so much fun? One of the warm-ups in the class this week was scribbling. My immediate thought was, Oh no. It just seemed so silly, so not me. We were supposed to scribble an animal. But when my computer crashed at work and I was sitting, watching, waiting on the tech guy to deal with it, I started scribbling. It's a very freeing type of "art." I can see it could be totally addictive.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

After the Hiatus

Every time I go weeks without blogging, I start to question what it is I've been doing. Hasn't there been anything worth writing about? What have I been thinking about? Haven't there been any thoughts to explore? My goal right now is to have one thing, one picture, one quote, one thought, one something that speaks for the day.

Right now, I'm enrolled in Carla Sonheim's Dog Days of Summer online art camps. I love her work. I love taking a class where the imperfections are the art. This is a first for me, taking an online class, and it's giving me just the right amount of structure and commitment. Each class is only five days and I've signed up for three, back to back, so for the month of August I'm committed.

The first day was about one line animals, drawing only from memory, no references. Here are a few of my one-line elephants. It's harder than you think, drawing from memory. I cheated on one and looked at a picture. But you know what? I think the memory ones have more personality!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Indie Businesses

I like supporting independent businesses as opposed to chains when I can, especially when they rock! I panicked the other day when I finally realized that about the only book store in town is Barnes & Noble. No longer are those little book shops on the corner. Amazon has done away with them.

Coffee shops are somewhat different in that they still exist and won't be replaced by online businesses. I love Starbucks and all it offers, but the absolute best latte in Tulsa comes from an independent shop called Cafe Cubana. So dreamy, so creamy, and it comes with a little design on the top. Even their machine is great! What a cadillac! You won't see this at Starbucks!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blowing in the Wind

I went to church this morning and as I got out of my car, I saw something that I hadn't seen in such a long time. Items on a clothesline, blowing in the wind. Wow, did that take me back. Hanging out the wash and bringing it in was a simple rite of passage for me. A lot like getting to iron the pillowcases and handkerchiefs. It makes me wonder what today's equivalent is for girls, say, 5 and 6 years of age.

I can remember feeling so proud, so big, "getting" to help with the laundry at age 5. How I loved standing on the 55 gal. barrel turned on its side, balancing and putting clothespins on the small items. (That barrel is another story. The best backyard "equipment" ever!)

One night when I was watching Lucy, we were looking for something in her mom's cosmetic bag. Lucy pulled out the eyelash curler, held it up and said with such longing in her voice, "I've been waiting my whole life to use this." She was 4.

I wonder what else is on her "bucket" list.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


In two short weeks, my flower beds and garden areas have grown wild. The heat has supercharged the things that could stand it and has intimidated everything else. The delphiniums, early on so brilliantly blue, are gone for the season. The daisies are in fine form but the cone flowers fight a strangling wild vine for breath. The area around St. Francis that was so clean and calm is now a nest of messiness. Tall grasses and wild seeds fill empty spaces and I feel overwhelmed and exhausted just sitting and looking out it. On top of everything, it's hot. And by hot, I mean really hot. I mean Africa hot. Three showers a day hot. Ugh.

Just two weeks ago, I felt such optimism for my gardens. Now I don't know where to start. In many ways, I feel as if my life resembles my garden. My art supplies are still in boxes and plastic tubs. My work space is messy and cluttered. My diet and exercise routine are in shambles. Two short weeks. A weed here, a weed there. And it's out of control. Sometimes it's not even a weed. It can be something beautiful that is in the wrong spot. Wrong place, wrong time.

My garden may have become overgrown in two weeks, but my art weeds have been longer in the making. I don't know exactly why I lost myself. I can look back and see when I stopped writing, when I stopped creating. I just don't know why. Maybe it doesn't matter. I seem to think it matters because surely if I understand it, I can undo it. If I understand it, I can learn how to weed my life.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Good-bye Pia Toscano

I'll admit it. I'm an American Idol fan. And I totally predicted last night's shocker. America said good-bye to Pia Toscano. For those non-fans, Pia is a beautiful young woman with the perfect body, spectacular voice, great hair. She has everything going for her -- everything except that connection with her audience. The judges kept telling her to break through her barriers and to own the stage, but she was more comfortable standing behind the microphone singing her heart out. Her notes were perfect, her appearance was perfect, but I felt nothing when I listened to her.

So, I started thinking about connection and how do you get that energy that exists between two people. When I can relate to someone about their problems, their happiness, their dreams and failures, I'm likely to call it a connection. I've always been so hard on myself, expected so much from myself, wanting to do things right, and yet, when I struggle with life and am okay about admitting it, that's when I feel more connected with people, and they with me. There's a blessedness in vulnerability. There's something liberating about embracing our imperfections.

Pia will probably get a recording contract anyway and maybe Jennifer Lopez will teach her to dance. She needs to rock that beautiful body. She needs to worry less about being perfect and concentrate on being free.

At least, that's what I'm going to do.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ah, Those Smells

I was out for a brisk walk this morning and as I cut through the parking lot of the private school nearby, and passed employees just arriving and walking to their building, the thought that floated through my mind was "I miss working in an office or a building where people arrive smelling of fresh soap and cologne. I miss people having that bit of purpose in their step." Even my office when I'm working isn't like that. I have to go back too many years to relive that memory.

I wonder if men wear cologne anymore. There's enough of it sold, but I never notice anyone wearing it. Maybe I'm just not around men who do. Maybe it's a young thing. Maybe young men in heat wear it. Maybe men don't know the power they wield in a very small bottle.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Re-Post from Daily OM

I liked this enough to re-post it here. This is from Overall, hoping this is not me, that it doesn't become me, and I can express myself in the best way when I'm in these situations.

Most of us have encountered a person in our lives who can accurately be referred to as a know-it-all. This person seems to know everything about anything that gets brought up and tends to dominate the conversation. They don’t take well to being questioned, and they have a hard time ever admitting that they were wrong.

Being around a know-it-all is inevitably tiring because there is no shared energy between the two of you. Rather, you become an audience member to this person’s need to be the center of attention. Attention and respect are probably the two things this person most longs for, and at some point in their lives, they learned that knowing it all was the way to get those needs met. Over time, they have become stuck in this pattern, regardless of the fact that it is no longer working. They may feel afraid of the experience of listening, being receptive, or learning something new, because it’s so unfamiliar.

On the one hand, when we see the childlike need underneath the know-it-all’s mask of confidence, we feel compassion for the person, and we may tolerate their one-sided approach to conversation out of a desire not to hurt their feelings. On the other hand, we may be feeling drained and tempted to avoid this person altogether. In the middle of these two possible ways of feeling, we may actually like this person and wish for a closer relationship. If we come from a place of kindness, we might attempt to bridge the gap that this person’s habitual way of relating creates. Simply expressing a desire to be closer may open their heart, and give you a chance to ask for what you need in the relationship—a chance to contribute.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Dream Corner

We lost a huge tree in the corner of our backyard when the ice storm hit Tulsa a few years back. The entire dynamics of our yard changed as a result. We are now a total sun yard. We need new plants and new plans. We haven't really dealt with the stump and our goal is to completely re-landscape the backyard this year now that we know what kind of sun we get.

Here's what I want to put in that corner. Call it a guest house or meditation house. Call it Happy Hour Hut. I just call it Splendid!

Want to know the great thing about it? It is actually available for sale. I haven't had the nerve to call for pricing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Hallmark Moment

I feel as if I just starred in a Hallmark movie. I drove 1000 miles to get to Tulsa, racing to arrive before the second big snowfall hit. I was sick but knew if I didn't get there in the next 32 hours, I'd be stuck for another week. I was ready to be home.

The car was hastily loaded, including the cat and his paraphernalia. The one thing Hallmark would have changed would be the roads. I had clear roads, dry and no snow. HM probably would have added a storm to drive through. Maybe the big snow starting earlier than predicted. I prefer my version:)

101 fever, coughing, and ahhh, it felt so good to be home. The cat, having been away 5+ months (and a good sport about it) immediately fell into old routines. And me. I fell in love again right then and there. It was so good to see my husband.

As I lay in bed last night, I couldn't help smiling. I have a lot to think about. Or maybe I should say I have a lot to feel.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Listening for a Voice

I knew I was going to feel better today when I woke up and wanted a cup of coffee. I haven't had coffee all week. I've been dealing with congestion, lethargy, loss of voice, achy body parts and all over general blahs. To actually feel like making a pot of coffee was a sign that this was going to be a good day. It's Super Bowl Sunday and the pre-game show has been on television since 5 a.m. Yes, 5 a.m. Not that I know this because I'm watching but I DID see it advertised. I'm tempted to turn it on just to see what they say this far ahead of the game. I like to glean a few facts and tidbits that I can toss out in meaningful conversation.

Although the weather here has actually been pretty good lately, the fact that my driveway is still ice and I haven't felt good has made me think at least twice before I would want to go someplace. I finally dragged myself out yesterday to get some medicine. I'm tired of being cold. Tired of hearing snow reports on television and radio. Tired of hearing other people's war stories about being snowed it. I spent time yesterday fantasizing about Sarasota, Florida. The only reason that place came up is that the Today show had a realtor talking about how much house you can get for your money there. I love to dream on

All of what is going on right now makes me think about where I really want to be in a few years. How do I want my life to play out. I am experiencing a sort of stagnation that I want to move past. I'm not going to say I have failed, I don't believe that. I have many great experiences because of my current choices. But I feel it's time for a deep self-assessment. Not the easiest thing to do. I need to listen with my heart, to my heart.
. . . and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save
. . . . Mary Oliver

Saturday, January 29, 2011


More than likely, every single one of us cut snowflakes out of white paper when we were in elementary school. What we didn't know was we were learning the art of kirigami. Or at least I didn't know that. Not until I got a kirigami kit for my birthday (thank you, Shannon!) had I even heard of the word. As you might guess, kirigami is a cousin to origami -- cut paper vs folded paper. My goal is to come up with a design for valentine cards. Here's my very first attempt at kirigami and my own design. The trick is cutting away enough and still leave those delicate borders. I got a little trapped between the middle and the outside edge, but all in all, I think it's lovely.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Observations on a Birthday

Today is my birthday. And even though I know at this point every day is one to celebrate, there's something special about a birthday. It makes me reflect some, a little like New Year's does. It makes me think about what I've learned in all these years,about what I'm still learning and what I need to keep reminding myself. Here are a few of my thoughts.

Little things really do matter. Whether it's little things I do or someone else does, I think they make a difference. When I was growing up, my mom played the piano and we had stacks of sheet music around. One that I used to love to peck at the piano and sing was "Little Things Mean a Lot." I still remember the lyrics.
Blow me a kiss from across the room,
Say I look nice when I'm not,
Touch my hair as you pass my chair,
Little things mean a lot
Sounds corny, perhaps, but I think when we can get out of ourselves and think about the other person, it counts.

Curiosity doesn't kill the cat, it keeps it alive. The more I'm curious about life, the better I feel. When I want to learn, when I want to know, when I'm not afraid to ask, when I'm not afraid to try, I feel better.

Random acts can make a day. Both yours and the other person's. I always end up smiling more when I do little random acts. Putting a newspaper on someone's porch, plugging an expired parking meter, letting someone make a left turn. And that karma comes back to me. Sometimes it's startling when it happens, and I wonder why people are so nice. It makes me want to be nicer.

Some days are a struggle, whether you like it or not. I've experienced this lately. Sometimes I give in to it, some days I fight like hell to get out of it. This is not new for me. I've had to fight this all my life. And my next point is . . .

I have a choice.
A favorite story of mine is when Henry, then about 6, was moaning, groaning, not wanting to do something and his mom said "It's your choice, you can be sad or you can be happy." Lucy, about 2, in all her exuberance piped up, "I choose happy, Henry. What do you choose?" A simple choice, when you think about it. I've been in and out of therapy several times in my life and the last guy thought I was a good candidate for Cognitive Behavior Therapy because I tend to analyze things so/too much. He was big on that choice thing. It works. Try it sometime.

Laugh. You've got to be able to see the irony and the humor in life. You can't take yourself so seriously that you fail to see humor in every day things.

This has turned out to be rather heavy, which is not what I intended when I started, but I've just let it roll.

I'm choosing to have a great day! Happy Birthday to Moi!

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Twist on Hummus

I made some hummus last night for a football playoff party. I brought most of it home with me. Who in their right mind takes something healthy to a football playoff party? The chili-cheese dips, little wieners wrapped in crescent rolls, buffalo chicken dip and brownies somehow were chosen over my two delicious hummus dips. Go figure.

I made two because I wanted to try both of them. Lucky for me, I made two "half" recipes. One, I used avocado instead of the tahini. The other, I substituted peanut butter for tahini. Neither of these are original. Nigella recommended the peanut butter at Christmas. The avocado recipe is from a friend of a friend of a friend. That recipe can be found here.

This afternoon, I tried sliced apples with the peanut butter version and I have one word for it. Yummy! This is a great alternative to eating peanut butter on celery, apples, crackers. I don't know if hummus is actually better for you than peanut butter, but since this has only 2T peanut butter to 1 cup garbanzos (or chickpeas), it seems like it should be. Aren't chickpeas supposed to be good for you?

The avocado dip would be a good substitute for guacamole if you needed one. I think mine could have used more salt and maybe a squeeze of lime.

I'm not including a hummus recipe since if you make it, you already have a recipe you like. Just experiment with peanut butter. You can actually use very little and have a nice nutty taste without the peanut flavor.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The caged bird

My neighbor Bill is a smoker and even in this cold, winter weather, he's out on his porch, bundled up, hat, gloves, bulky coat, smoking. He paces his porch, watches whatever is going on on the sidewalks and he always waves at me. It's a big wave that's more like the OSU Cowboy victory wave than a howdy-do. He has a ladder-back chair on the porch with a rug or towel on the seat, but he rarely sits down in the afternoon. In the morning he'll be sitting on the chair, drinking his coffee and smoking and he still waves. He lives downstairs next door; I am upstairs. My porch, which is enclosed, is where I have my office and studio and when I'm at the computer I face his porch.

Last night I sat here thinking the cardinal who had been hanging out in my front tree had moved to the bird cage on Bill's porch, maybe looking for a bit of protection. Today the bird is in the same position, hasn't moved, so I know it's fake. It's funny but I had a glimmer of hope yesterday that the bird who could fly free was taking refuge in a little cage on a porch.

There are so many references I could make now but I'm just not going there.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Film Festival

I love public libraries. I'm learning to love them more. My neighborhood library has an absolutely fabulous collection of movies. I've been able to see films that I would never have heard about, let alone have seen and so many are film festival winners. I love the DVD covers with those parenthetical laurels. That's always my first choice.

Being that it's been hovering between -2 and 11 degrees today, I worked on "the" quilt and watched a couple of movies today. Let me correct that. These two qualify as "films," not movies.

I can heartily recommend seeing "Music Within" and "Goodbye Solo" if you have the chance. Music Within is the true story of Richard Pimentel, a brilliant public speaker who returns from Vietnam severely hearing-impaired and is responsible for the landmark ADA act. He's not a politician, he's someone who truly cares about helping those whose voice may not be heard. It makes you remember, sad to say, the days when there were no wheelchair ramps and discrimination was abundant. A great movie, umm, I mean film.

"Goodbye Solo" was so different, but one of those movies that when it's over, you just pause and think about it. There are actually many unanswered questions, which may count as not being well developed, but all in all, a good movie.

If you have NetFlix, que it up. If not, wish you lived near my library.

When is giving too much?

It's -2 degrees this morning. I've been up a while sewing on a baby quilt I started yesterday. I modified the traditional log cabin and am using bold colors, no pastels. I am not a quilter, and I don't do a good job of keeping things square, but I'm enjoying this project, I think because I just love looking at these colors together. Chocolate, hot pink, golden orange, light pink, and a heart pattern with chocolate background.

I'm making it as a gift for a young woman I sorta kinda work with and the question has crossed my mind if I'm making it more for me than her. I mean, she's not a close colleague, I haven't spent hours working with her, and yet I wanted to do this. I wanted to make something, have my head have to figure out something. It feels silly to have thoughts in my head of rationalizing a gift. "Is it an over-the-top gift?" No, I say. It's her first child. "But you haven't done this for other people who are actually closer to you." The baby will be Aquarius. I am Aquarius. And so it goes.

I really hate it when those conversations go on inside my head.

Here's my progress. I think the back will be big blocks of the colors or maybe, solid brown if there's enough fabric without a trip to the store.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

No Phone Today

My phone died a quick, unexpected death yesterday and I'm incommunicado via telephono until late Tuesday due to it being a weekend and Monday being a holiday. It's a very strange feeling for some reason. I don't talk that much on the phone, but it has become a habit to check for email and texts constantly. I heard a comedian describe it as following the mailman around asking do you have anything for me now? Did something come in yet? And I had to plead guilty.

It's very strange what cell phones have done to us. I'm not THAT old, but I did grow up with a party line and listening in on other people's conversations was a little game kids would try to get away with. Now, I don't even have to try and I hear all about a stranger's problems. I marvel at how freely people talk (and how loudly) about very personal things. It's as if they forget they are not in the privacy of their home. And then, there's texting. I don't know what the parameters are for most people's texts, but sometimes I just want to comment or ask, but not necessarily carry on a conversation. I just want the facts, maybe. It's interesting how many back and forth texts I can have, when it really might have been quicker to have a conversation.

It would be easy to turn this into a cell phone rant, but I'm not going to let that happen. I just wanted to say that if you were inclined to call, I can't talk to you until Tuesday.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh, That It Were True

I doubt the truth of this, but it's such a delight to believe.
A miniature monkey, traditionally a pet for Chinese scholars and thought to be extinct, has been discovered alive in southeastern China. According to Monday's People's Daily, the little creature, weighing only seven ounces, exists in the mountains of Fujian province just opposite Taiwan.

Known as Ink or Pen Monkeys because scholars kept them in their studies, where it is said they ground and prepared ink, passed brushes and turned pages, the monkeys slept in the drawers of scholars' desks or curled up in their brush pots.

The use of such a monkey as part of a mandarin's impedimenta fits in with traditional scholars' tastes for the exotic or the bizarre. Their desks were cluttered with brush holders and ink-grinding stones, and impractical but tactile things made of roots, jade, bones, and wood. They wrote and exchanged tales of deformed or mutant humans or animals, and prized unusual trees and plants. InkMonkey Press

The Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and at least one evolutionary primatologist at UT-Austin agree that there's no scientific proof that ink monkeys ever existed. Even the Web site of the Chinese Wuyi Mountain nature preserve (in the region where the ink monkey rediscovery supposedly occurred) acknowledges somewhat mournfully that ink monkeys are not among the wildlife found there.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Scavenged Rabbit

Like I've admitted previously, I'm a scavenger. Can't help it. Last week was a good week as neighbors were committed to cleaning and tossing. I found a pair of rabbit lamps that I thought still had hope.



Plus, the paper I used was lovely paper that Shannon wrapped my Christmas presents in. How's that for a double dose of scavenging?

All that's left to do is get a black lamp shade and he's ready for his dining room debut.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Finished Card

Remember my start for the New Year's letter card? I finished it and hope to get these suckers in the mail this week still. What seemed like such a good idea at the time is now just hanging over my head.

I ended up cutting the art into pieces and scanning them as a patchwork, printed them out on a real soft handmade paper from Costa Rica, then zig-zagged the printed piece with the sewing machine, trimmed it, and glued the stitched image onto a Strathmore "create your own" that has a red deckle edge.

Here's the rub. Our list is too long to use these (time-consuming) cards which would probably end up in a trash can, so I think I'll save them for for birthday or more personal communications.

My solution was to scan the finished card, have photographs printed, trim and use the photo as the "art." Still says "pieces of our lives," and still has some hands-on work, but more manageable maybe? I picked up some smaller blank cards at Micheal's for $2.50, so I cut the photos in half. I'm making it work and will think twice about this project next year.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bigger is Art

We visited the Andy Warhol museum today and here's my take-away: If you do anything big enough, it is art. Dear Andy was the absolute best at blurring the line between art and life. I like the idea, but some of it left a big question mark in my head, which, if I could paint it, would fit right into the exhibit.

I have to admit there was much more to it than I expected. Seven floors. Some floors were more like a gallery. Then there were a lot of materials from his accumulated time capsules that made for fascinating reads and made it feel exactly like a "museum." A wall of the (magazine) Interview covers.

A room of silver "pillows" filled with helium floating around, up and down. Fascinating. Motion as art is something I don't think many people consider, yet this definitely was both.

A floor of movie screens placed at random angles, almost floating around the room with black and white films playing constantly with no sound. All were his films. By that time, though, I was on overload and didn't have as much patience as it required. After all, I'd already processed the wall of copper, oxidized by artfully placed urination. The museum will require (and deserve) another visit.

His art was so big. I envy that expansiveness. That freedom that permits you to swing your arms wide and swash the canvas. Maybe that's on my Resolution list for 2011. Go big.