The holidays seem to bring out the best in people. On Christmas Eve, I was sitting in my living room and heard someone, light of foot, come up the stairs. An envelope was slid under my door and those light footsteps went back down the stairs. I got up and saw it was red with a stamp on back that could be my pet turtle Joe's twin! I opened it and found a gift card from Kwik Trip (which is very appreciated because I go there at least once a day for something) and it was signed 'From Joe.' I STILL have not found out who sent it...it's a mystery! I would like to say thank you but I don't know yet who it is. My name was spelled differently but it's got to be someone who knows me and is resourceful. A stamp of a painted turtle is not only clever and thoughtful, it touched my heart. How sweet is that!
Nothing like sleeping at Magic 98! Really, the hot cocoa machine is really good...I brought my own shortbread cookies and overnight bag and didn't have to do anything but wake up and be at work! I drove here during the day when traffic was zipping at 60 on pavement, but by midnight my car was an igloo with wheels. By 6 am, the wind had blown all two feet of snow off! I guess we are all getting a glimpse of what it is like to live on the South Pole. One of the gals who works at Home Savings (my bank) walked to work in snow shoes. I actually really like the frost patterns with Christmas lights on my studio windows, too. Starting tonight at 10, along with the 98 Hours of Christmas Magic, I'm going to paint! I hope you get to do what you like to do, too.
The older I get the more I look for the best around me. I learned as a child that how you look at things is really how they will affect you, but as an adult, I keep needing to remind myself. It's just a better life if I do! The holiday lights and people bundled against the weather are always entertaining. I've written before how fascinating it is to see people's breath when they talk; in the latest National Wildlife magazine they have the photo winners and there is actually one of a red winged black bird, three little puffs of breath as he sings. How cool is THAT! But I find this year, playing in the snow is supreme fun. Laughing and sledding with messy hair and snow in your boots with the people you love most is pure joy.
Well just let me try to catch my breath! Fifty-seven paintings are now hanging gracefully in the "Robert Rae Gallery of Fine Art" right there on Main St. in Stoughton. It helps a great deal I only live right next door! I have not had such a big show since 2002. Thanks sooo much to those of you who came out in the freezing cold! I am grateful to my friend, Barb, who gave me the ginger cookie recipe. I just HAD to make cream cheese frosting to top them. Something about ginger cookies this time of the year with the hot, caramel cider is so, homey!
Because I am an abstract painter, I'm often asked "How did you come up wtih that?" The show is called "Trundling Through Time" so the theme in these paintings are different aspects of time. Just like a "trundle" bed (one that is always there but hidden underneath the one above it until someone rolls or 'trundles' it out) the art reflects the images hidden right in front of us. For starters, there is a group of 12 paintings, each designed for a month of the year. It was originally put together to be a calendar for the Community Action Coalition. Before it was completed, the segment we were planning to do the fund raiser for folded. So, someday it WILL be a calendar, probably 2010, but now it's the months of the year each in its own frame.
"Rune Moon" pays homage to Odin, the principal divinity in the pantheon of Norse gods. Legend says he hung from the Tree of the World, for nine days, wounded by his own blade, tormented by hunger, thirst and pain, alone and unaided but just before he fell, he spied the runes and seized them. This painting is a creamy, golden moon with 10 'floating' Viking Runes 'trundling' from the past reflecting from then to now the amazing discovery of the alphabet.
The largest painting in the show was inspired by a rather small, very adorable, little girl, Greta. The parking lot behind my building was being completely dug up and resurfaced. Mud, stones in my shoes, parking far away and having to walk with heavy groceries, noise, noise and did I say noise? Well, I was really getting crabby about it until the one day Greta was out there watching. She was just about the height of the yellow working tape that surrounded the entire lot. She was just starting to talk and even though I had seen her since before she could stand on her own, it was the first thing she ever said to me. She turned, her eyes as big as dinner plates and said "TRUCKS!" In that nano moment, I was able to 'trundle' away from my grouchy, negative attitude into the wonder and power of what she was able to see. This inspired some 24 paintings using the vibrant primary colors. Yellow, red and blue dominate all the work of this "Greta" series. All but a few have sold, but the largest one, "Child Hood" is now on display.
"Trundling Through Time" will be up until January 11, 09. I sure hope you can come and see it!
I always have to remind myself that Thanksgiving is only an American holiday. I like being an American! We used to get dressed up like Pilgrims and Indians. At the time, I thought it was just hilarious to watch my grandmother gobble up her stuffing with a war bonnet on her head. Not until I was much older did I realize my mom was "keeping us busy" making these costumes so we would not be in the way in the kitchen. At our house, Thanksgiving was the time of year EVERYONE was over to our house. Most everyone else lived in an apartment in the city. We lived in a house on a dead end with a big, old maple tree out front.
We had a fireplace and a sliding pocket door that divided the living and dining rooms. That stayed closed until everything was ready. We would bake pies for days ahead of time. Luckily it was the time of year they could actually set outside on the back porch because it was cold enough to keep them fresh.
After our combined families ate, the dining room was shut off by the pocket door until it was all ready for dessert. Then, ALL our friends would come over! All those pies were brought back in, usually about 25, the candles were lit, another fat 'ole log tossed in the fireplace and the door opened with much ceremony.
Thanksgiving usually lasted until sometime after 1am and often times, it would just be snowing those nice, fat, wet flakes New Jersey is famous for. After the guests went home, we would stay up at least another hour or so for (if you can believe it) MORE pie and fresh apple cider.
The memories are as rich as the pumpkin pie with whipped cream I'll be having on Thursday!
Getting ready for my art show opening! Just got back three paintings from my wonderful framer with more to finish and get framed yet. The opening reception is on December 5th right in the new 'Robert Rae Gallery of Fine Art' Main St. Stoughton. I hope to have about 35! The big disk that was juried into the Sundance 608 Theatre when it opened up is hanging now in the window.
Also, there will be noshing and live music! Goes from 5-8pm and everyone is invited. It's also the kick-off for the Victorian Holiday Weekend. That includes the costume ball at Tobacco Junction (Performing Arts Center) and Peter Engler, the famous wood carver, will be in All Through the House up the block from the Robert Rae. The historic downtown always looks great for this weekend so I hope lots of people come!
Once again, Joe, my buddy the turtle these 20 years, surprised me. Joe is a painted turtle. He eats, sleeps and does his duty ALL in water. It's just the way God made the fellow! He never makes a sound except the mild scuffing of his shell softly scraping along the wood floors of my home. If he can, he will climb into the recycle pile of bags and 'crinkle' for awhile but he is rather intelligent as reptiles go and bores quickly at that. Well, I have mentioned before, sometimes he just hides too well and I won't see him until the morning when he will be just waiting for me to get up. He just sits there, right where my feet hit the floor.
Well, I was in that nice, soft place between asleep and awake, ready to roll over for another half hour of a great bear-like-hibernation-type of snooze, when I heard the strangest sound. I thought, why, THAT was a sneeze!! Mind you it's only me and Joe in that room and that little critter has never been sick a day in the 20 years I have been hanging out with him. I literally leapt out of bed, I confess, terrified that he might be catching a cold or something more horrid. A turtle sneeze is truly something not many people have been privileged to hear! It sounded so....so......cute! Well I darted around to where he was, a feat in itself as I really WAS in the sleepy side of myself, but when I found him he had a huge, I mean, T-rex size, dust bunny trailing off his back left foot. Aha! They are the ones that live under my claw foot tub, too low to clean under easily! Only a gnome or a very nimble troll can really clean under there. Since I don't know any of them personally, I have thought about training Joe to get back under there with a nice, soapy rag...
Happy New Year! (On the Celtic calendar it is now the new year).
What a nice morning I had at the Farmer's Market! Spinach picked yesterday, a stalk of brussel sprouts to make my favorite soup, fresh mushrooms, fresh broccoli topped off with smoked trout. Next Saturday is the last one of the outdoor season and the vegetables are nothing short of gorgeous. I go very early, not so much to get first picks, though that is a plus, and not just because the Marigold Kitchen only has duck hash on Sat. mornings, that too is a plus, but I get to see everyone's breath when they talk! Many of the yellow sugar maples are still packed with those magical leaves! Fall is glorious, oui?
The past few days have had me on roller skates getting the flowers ready for a friend's wedding. But boy, it sure paid off! Everything went very smoothly after gathering relatives from Alaska, Arizona and Michigan, the fiasco of the wrong tuxes, then opposite table placements at the club rearranged, pins in the right places on the bridesmaids and keeping frisky children, dressed in light cream, ready and clean before show time (just the average wedding scenario)... everything was fine! With the fall colors outside matching all the fall colored flowers inside, it was a truly magical day for Amy and Adam. I wish them all the best and hope to be there today for the gift opening party.
I don't know a soul that doesn't like the fall. Truly, some of the trees in Cambridge this year are sooo amazingly gorgeous I've stopped in front of them just to bask in what seems like an inner light glowing out of them.
Today, when I get back to Stoughton, I am one of the judges for the kids Halloween Art they have painted all over the store fronts downtown. It's actually really tough because they really are all really fun and full of bright ideas. We are really lucky in Stoughton because the art and the business folk often work hand-in-hand to make our city fun. It's a nice event where kids and parents can do things together and having your name in the paper when you are a kid is such a thrill.
Oh, side note for Liz Terry...she keeps thinking it's the rawhide that gives poor Burt gas, but really it's the pair of old gym socks he ate when no one was looking...
There are some really terrific gems I have saved off of walls...here are some of my favorites:
"Drink coffee...do stupid things faster and with more energy."
"Drink coffee! You can sleep when you're dead!"
"Any young child left unattended will be given an espresso and a small puppy."
"Depression: anger with no enthusiasm."
"Football... keeping Dad from chores since the 1950s!"
I am, as always, amazed at my little buddy Joe. He is now sitting on my foot as I type away. Lately he is fascinated by the little green light that signifies that the modem is on. When the seasons do their thing, I do, too, by putting all the summer sandals away and rooting out all closed-toe shoes. For some good reason, which I cannot recall, I was taken away from completing this task and left a pile of summer shoes beside my bed. Being Joe is an aquatic turtle, it's a good idea for him to get back in the tank at night. He'd much rather sleep under my bed in one of my slippers. So I often walk around my place calling his name at night until he either shows up or I hear him scuffling to get under something before I can catch him. The night before last, he neither showed up nor scuffled away when I called him. However, when I turned the light on in the bedroom I was actually not surprised to find him, looking quite dapper, snugged into my bright turquoise slip-on! It's what I would have chosen and I was so impressed I let him stay up a half an hour longer...
I really like taking a walk around the river by me. There are four, great old trees I like to greet every day. A pine, a chestnut, a locust and a weeping willow. Each has to be at least 85 years old judging by the girth of the trunks being so enormous and the canape of leaves so spectacular. There is a train trussle that one must honk at before one can cross under it. You can not see if there is another car on the opposite side and I've seen many motorists having to back up to let someone else go through first. I heard tell that one day two guys each refused to move thinking they each had the right to be the one to go through first. They actually had to call the cops and let the men in blue pick who would go! My favorite was the day I had to walk through first and stop the cars from coming in. It was late spring and there where no less then three families of geese walking through! They each had about 7 to 11 chicks behind them, taking their sweet time, waddling along like they owned the road. Well, that day they did!
It's been kind of crazy getting ready for the 5th annual 14 South Artists 'Open Studio Art Tour.' I will (again) have my studio open for this Saturday and Sunday 10-4 each day. I only open it to the public once a year as I live and work out of the same place! Avalon Blvd. Studio is set in historic, downtown Stoughton. I find my studio to be a dreamy place with 10 foot stained glass windows, hardwood floors and the original doorknobs on all 13 doors! Of course it looks like chaos where I actually sit and paint so I do actually make a path for folks to get through. This is a lot of work! However, I get to listen to Magic Sunday Morning, thanks to Lanette Hansen who will fill in the air chair, while I am at home demonstrating. It's always just a blast to be a part of the 43 other artists who open their studios to the public and all be part of the groovy art road trip! If you'd like to know more, hop online to www.14southartists.com and get a map and join the fun!
I have my latest paintings in the new Robert Rae Gallery of Fine Art, 184 W. Main St. Stop by on Friday (the 19th) night 5-8pm for some nibbles and wines and meet a lot of the artists all part of the tour!
It really has been quite the weekend! Great Thai food, perfect weather and then one of the highlights of my career, meeting David Pack! There are popular musicians and talented artists all over Magic 98, but in my eyes, David's songwriting skills and fantastic voice have spanned so many years and STILL sound fresh! When I saw and heard him perform I had to pinch myself to be sure it was real! In my eyes, he is a real star, like one of those that light the sky at night.
When I spoke with him backstage, I was very surprised at how soft-spoken and humble he was. He is a deeply spiritual man and was quick to point out that he never wanted to take anything good for granted. When I assured him he had a LOT of fans out there I don't think he really believed me until he went on stage. The crowd sang whole verses of his music, high notes and all! His newest disk "The Secret of Moving On" is one I highly recommend. It's a new sound on his classics remade (we play some of these on Magic Sunday Morning) and his new things are amazing, too. As an artist myself who paints abstractly, I was really delighted to know the painting behind him on his CD jacket is an eight foot painting done by Bernie Taupin. It sooo matches David's voice and style I thought David had done it himself.
He will be on Broadway in Sept. and is now making a Christmas CD. I sure hope he'll come back next year for the "Taste of Madison" again. Everyone was crazy about him!
I really wanted to be able to see my nephews before they grow mustaches and spend time with my family, but by golly, I've really become a Midwesterner! It was so wonderful to walk into the quiet, sunlit Dane County airport! It's so clean with nice acoustic guitar music playing, comfy, cushy chairs, good coffee and the amazing lobby display of all the fabulous black and white photos of the sirens and hunks of old films! They really know how to do it in Madison.
There are all kinds of vacations & I suppose some people would like to see Italy or some sandy beach with aqua blue water, having umbrella drinks while you dangle one foot off of a well-used hammock. But I am having a time of it figuring out which was the best highlight of my time away. It's really a toss up. Seeing my father's sister, Suzanne, for the first time in four years felt great! Sleeping in the Superman bed with the day glow stars on the ceiling was extra special. Being called "Aunt Kate, watch this!" 15 times while my nephew, Josh, all of seven with wet spikes of hair standing straight up from the top of his head & his blue goggles flapping like martian wings out the side of his head, as I taught him how to dive. Then there is watching my 78 year old stepmom chase her 'darling' puppy (at 4:30 in the morning), a fluffy fur ball called Bonny, circle the coffee table with my underwear she stole from my suit case and refused to give up. There was my sister, Janny, driving me to Newark airport at 4 in the morning in her pajamas and my brother-in-law, Al, with a skull & cross-bones on his black eye patch, talking pirate, while one nephew hung on his leg and the other around his neck. There was the visit to my cousin's new supper club now in the incubator stage. It's on such a hip block, Lark St., in Albany, NY. It will be called The Theory and my art will hang there. I think now, in hindsight, the visit to the Clark Museum was the best moment. Not just because my Aunt Lisa and I zipped over the Massachusetts to see Degas, Monet, Whistler, Inness and Sargent originals, but because of a Winslow Homer quote written up on the wall not far from a huge photo of him holding an umbrella over his head, his dog at his side, standing on a beach. It read:
"The life I have chosen gives me my full hours of enjoyment for the balance of my life. The sun will not rise, or set, without my notice and thanks." I would have liked to have met him!
How insane can one get trying to get ready to leave the state for awhile? This is not a trick question; I just hope to have some hair left on my head before I have to put up with being an adult in a car seat for a few hours. Can you tell I don't like to fly much? Luckily it is really only a small jaunt over a few states and I will see my sister and two nephews at the airport. Those ocean voyages are really for folks more savvy than I! Thanks to Amy Abbott for handling Magic Sunday Morning while I am gone...I'll miss everyone here! I wanted to bring Joe, my turtle, with me but he'd have to ride in the belly of the jet and I wouldn't do that to my nice sneakers never mind my little buddy these past 18 years!
Well, I find it hard to believe, but I have not gone swimming yet this summer! This is serious. I promised myself I would always go swimming at least once a summer. That's it, I'm going tomorrow even if it rains! I know right where my bathing suit is and I've been keeping my Gray's Diet Cream soda and sun screen in the fridge just for the occasion. I may even get my hair wet...
Even though most people won't admit it, it is a well known fact that if you don't like your hair, you don't like your life. The sooner we embrace this, the better our lives become! I have really thin hair so it's been a challenge ever since my mother put my first "Pebbles Flintstone" ponytail on my head. I was blessed to discover Olive, a terrific hair dresser, because she turned me on to the world of Aveda products. 'Sap Moss' is more valuable to me than gold. It is a heat-activated spray you blowdry into your hair to give it volume. Well, last Sunday morning, I had used a conditioner to help comb out the tangles and the Sap Moss (which is actually taken from the sap of trees in Iceland) and turned my head up-side down to blow it dry. I even had a diffuser put on my dryer so my hair doesn't blow to kingdom come. Both the conditioner and the styling spray are heat activated so when I looked back up in the mirror, &$#*%*!
Now I know Bozo was a huge hit with his hair winging out the sides like that, but he never had to wear a headset to work! After crossing from laughing to crying for several minutes - several times - I ended up using six combs to sort of capture it all back on to my head. Mind you this is all going on before I had my coffee and a few moments before I have to be out the door to get to the Magic studio for Magic Sunday Morning. Proof again there is a God!
Now I do it on purpose and wear nicer earrings!
What great weather for the holiday weekend! We deserve it after putting up with all the crazy stuff. I was at a really nice picnic for the 4th. Lucas turned six, so it was his birthday party as well. That translates to a Noah's Ark cake (complete with cows, tigers, elephants and horse cookies on top) after our taco dip, fruit salad and turkey sandwiches. All the little boys were squealing, trying to hold up drippy shorts and do the new 'Slippy Slide' right. There were all kinds of coaching tips from the grown-ups with their cabooses firmly sunk into lawn chairs enjoying the punch. But only when Kerri, home from college, showed them how to do it did they really start to have fun. Furthering our education, she told us they had huge, plastic banners covered in soapy water for their slides. Man, that is why we send our children to college, to learn the things that matter...
I have recently listened to a re-telling of something that happened to Monty Roberts (the man who listens to horses) when he was in school.
He had written an assignment in which he was to project what his future would be like. He said he wanted to have a 200 acre ranch and a herd of horses to train. The teacher gave him back his paper with a F on it, failed, because he lived very poorly in a trailer home and the teacher felt his expectations were not reasonable. The teacher then gave him a chance to re-write it for a better grade and Monty said "You keep the F, I'll keep my dream." Thing is, that teacher was well meaning but...wow. In the 1980's, Monty Roberts gets a call from the Queen of England's office inviting him to come to her country and 'teach them how to do it.' She was so impressed with him, she said he should write a book. He then wrote "The Man Who Listens to Horses" and changed the face of horse training forever for the world! So nice to get official permission to dream bigger than ever! If you'd like to learn more about him and his continued work, he is at www.montyroberts.com.
I am sure this weather will get nicer any day now and all the fun, summer things are all just on the horizon...jeez, even Joe the turtle was having anxiety attacks. When those warning whistles went off this last time, I took Joe, a book I am reading, my cell phone, a flash light and my keys and headed down the basement. Well, he HATES being put in a box and I didn't think of the laundry basket until after I was below the building, so just carrying him was a handful. Once he had the freedom of the floor, though, he kept making the exact same pattern across the carpet. He did it constantly for the whole hour we were below. By the sixth time I could see it was like a V, with a brief rest of his head on my foot at the bottom of the V, then a Z or maybe an N depending on how you look at it. Do turtles have compulsive behavior disorders? Reptile brain kicking in with an underwater mud pattern they all do when a tornado is approaching? These ideas keep my mind sharp...
I am thinking that I am going to buy one of those mobile air conditioners for my apartment. I am up on the second floor, something I really like but my apartment is sooo hot, I am near microwaved when I leave my place! I mean, my normal, effervescent cheerful self turns into Ms. Crabby-pants! I get so irritated I can't stand me! I am learning that I'm not alone in this and it has to do with the air pressure or some such thing. Well, until I figure it out I'll just have to hide out in chilly coffee shops or my hometown movie theatre. Not only can you eat dinner at a private table while you swivel on your own oversized chair, they have a dining room, too, so you don't even have to see a movie to enjoy a really good home cooked meal. Great handmade pizza, too. Please note if you go to Stoughton Cinema Cafe, it was I who did the wallpapering there!
I've lately been working on a book I nearly finished some 8 1/2 years ago. I was still living in Cambridge and was only two chapters shy of completing it. It had taken me three years. I spent one entire summer on research alone, never mind the countless edits, computer snafus and newer ideas replacing the older ones making for more edits. I was so close to finishing it I thought I was in the home stretch, but then I got deathly ill with the same type of pneumonia that killed Jim Henson (from 'Muppets' fame). It had a very fast growth rate and from what I understand, the few others in the area who also caught it, did not make it. Anyway, being on death's door was the only thing that would have stopped me so close to the end. Well, the universe has its way with us and now in hindsight, I can see it was a good thing. Frankly, after nine more years, I've become a much better writer! Not only do I know what I can edit out with ease now, I have a completely different ending in mind! One I really love compared to the one I had felt before should be the end. I still have my work cut out for me, the manuscript is nearly 500 pages long. I am hoping that Amy Abbott is still willing to be my first copy editor again! The book is called "Silverpond" and even though it is written as 'for children' it has several stories within the bigger story that anyone will enjoy...
This Sunday, Liz Terry is kind enough to take over the helm of Magic Sunday Morning so I can be present (along with some 30 other artists) for the opening reception at "The Paint Box Gallery" up in Door County. On Sunday morning you, too, are sure welcome to come up and join the fun, food and great miniature art on display! It is at 10426 Hwy 42 North Ephraim, WI. The "Paint Box Gallery" is one of the few that is open year 'round and has been for over 40 years. I am honored to be amongst this group of some of the finest painters and artisans in the country! I confess, I will miss doing my show but I will be back next Sunday for sure and I know I am leaving it in good hands!
I am lucky enough to have found a great apartment that is also my art studio. It took me seven years, but it is worth it. Now I have involved myself with helping other artists who might want to live and work their art together, too. The Stoughton Chamber of Commerce is taking a big part in helping to find out if our town is a good place to actually build a moderate income facility to make this kind of studio/living space available. There is a terrific company out of Minnesota, a not-for-profit organization, that does all is needed to see if it is feasible, lucrative and even really wanted. They have successfully gotten 20 of these buildings up and running in the black! They are designed to remain economical and artist community buildings.
Now they have a survey they are asking artists to take a part in to see if we can do it! If you are an artist, know an artist (no matter where they live) or are interested in the arts in any way, please take a few moments to take the short survey online at www.artspacestoughton.org. Please help us find out if we can be a part of this! I took it myself in a few minutes. The information is not sold to anyone else. I plan on being a part of this venture if it can be done!
Reflecting on what Mother's Day is all about, I found myself remembering when I first learned I was with child. I was excited and wanted to tell my good friends but I really could not figure out just who to tell first. As it happened, I was going ice skating with my three best pals, Lauren, Rosemary and Re and my moment just happened like magic. We were all bent over our skates, lacing them up with our heads down. In this way, I was able to tell all three at the same time! Three heads popped up at the same time; they thought I was kidding! By golly, that was 27 years ago and we moved to Wisconsin four months after this episode. I've not seen the three of them together since that day so it's even more of a marker than I ever knew it would be.
Mother's Day is always a really nice holiday for me as I have several Moms and I am a Mom of a really amazing son myself. One Mom lives near the beach - she read poetry and stories to me. Another is terrified of water, loves to gamble and watch old movies. The other is also my mentor and beautifully frames all my artwork and listens to all my woes and the other has gone on but I feel her presence most when I am writing or driving alone in my car. She encouraged honesty and used to fuss so nicely over me! Being the Mom myself now I have learned the real joy is just in the loving of the child! I am so, so lucky!
It is now finally warm enough for me to take Joe to the turtle amusement park. This is actually a natural stream not too far from my place. I have two shoe laces, tied together, that work as his leash. It gets wrapped snugly around his middle, then he sits in my pocket while I drive over. Then we walk a ways down the trail and head to the stream. It's just lovely before the mosquitoes get out! He chases fish, swims away from frogs and sticks his back legs out for a stretch in the sunlight. It's all under a very old willow tree with some great squishy mud to play in. I have had him now 18 years. He never makes a sound (except when his shell scraps along the floor when he's trucking across the hard wood floors) but I know when he sits on my feet as I am painting he loves me very much. I am seriously considering writing stories for a book about him and his adventures. Beatrix Potter was able to buy and leave 4,000 acres of untouched land to the National Trust from the sale of her little "Bunny Books." James Harriot's "All Creatures Great and Small" stories, all of which are true, were best sellers. I am encouraged to take a stab at it!
It always astonishes me when a new song is able to transport my whole mind and body to such a nice place! Music is really such a powerful mood maker. I was driving really early - still dark out - here to the station, kinda sleepy and thinking about what I would play on Magic Sunday Morning. I had Magic on, of course, and I heard Landon Pigg's "Falling In Love In A Coffee Shop" for the first time. My whole energy level was lifted, as if I was floating! His voice is pleasant, but the music is so well produced and those lyrics? They are fine poetry. Don't get me wrong, I love the La, la la la la, la la la la's in Simple Minds "Don't You Forget About Me" (from the "Breakfast Club" soundtrack) or America's La la la la la la's in "A Horse With No Name" and I actually need to take Dramamine if I plan on seeing an IMAX film, but that song rearranges my molecules! I LOVE when that happens!
My pottery friend, Jen Wolfe, turned me on to the 'Marigold Kitchen' for the first time when we were working the Art Fair on the Square a few years back. They have this fantastic duck hash, the best eggs anywhere, fresh fruit and a decent Americano - my drug of choice - and fresh pastries. This past Saturday (which is the only time they serve the duck hash) Jonathan Little and I met there, yakking up a storm like only radio cronies can do. He has a much wiser head than I and I go to him for sound (no pun intended) advice, but our notion of what is really ridiculous is exactly the same. He can say, with the most somber of expressions, something so funny food comes out of your nose. It is my friends who are kind and see things with that appreciation of the absurd that make life worth living. Another day, another friend and I were standing in his kitchen, sharing a pizza to celebrate my selling a painting. Not a coincidence that we were listening to two radio hosts joking about just how holy Mother Teresa was. We were doubled over and out of breath we laughed so much. Pinnacle points marking the value of my life; laughing is good medicine...
I just finished reading this really interesting book that told of this great "teaching." I thought it so profound I'd share it with you:
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. "My son," he said, "the battle is between two wolves inside of us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
"The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, benevolence, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
I used to kind of shy away from my birthday coming up; thinking how 'old' I was getting was depressing. However, my conscious thought process has always been set to 'put some latitude in your attitude' (Joe Sample's "U Turn"). Many of the highest moments happened on my birthday which I had no control over at all. Twenty years ago, my son made me his first serious birthday card, letting me have a sneak peek into his future as a terrific artist. Seven years ago, I fell so hard in love I never got up! Three years ago I had one of my life's dreams come true, waking up in Scotland. I looked out the window and there was a great blue heron perched on the neighboring roof...they are common there. Every year I always have some wonderful nighttime dreams, too. No matter what has gone before, I am always grateful to have been born and having a chance to sample this world. I think, too, if I had to pick my own day to be born I would choose the same day. When I tell people it's April 1st, they always laugh and say, no surprise there!
I never knew that spring fever was a real sickness until I found myself just itching to dust and clean my apartment. This is very serious because I enjoy cleaning as much as a root canal. No, I prefer the dental work. You've heard of dust bunnies...I have dust dinosaurs! I simply could not put my boots on one more time so I went for my walk in that snow yesterday in my sneakers! Whoever came up with that ridiculous figure of 100 inches of snow is out of their mind because there were at least that many just in my driveway alone. Before I knew what I was about, I had cleaned out the whole fridge! This is serious because even as I write this I am typing faster and faster so I can go home and get that old chair over to St. Vinny's and get a load of laundry done...
As a writer of children's stories and an avid believer that knowing a language of a culture gives you direct insight into that culture in a way nothing else can, I chose Japanese to be my language to study in college. Very fascinating, very difficult. Eight credit class even! I was so wanting to learn it I thought I could do it. True, I was a single mom while I was at the UW, but I just could not keep up no matter how much I studied and practiced. I was doing so poorly I dropped the class. Not to be undermined, I went on to Edgewood College, hoping the much smaller classes would help. Again, I gave it all my energy. My teacher was as patient as God, extra help, extra books, there was always a constant willingness to help me along. But there it was, just a few weeks into the semester, I was handed my paper with the big red F and I was just crushed. It takes a great deal for me cry. It's just about impossible to cry in public, but there I was in the cafeteria, tears streaming down my face. I was so wretched! In my own mind, I felt as if I was letting down half the children of the world because I would never know them. I am sure there is a God because without even asking it so happened my counselor stood by the table, looked at me and I showed him the F. He plopped his sack lunch down and sat quiet for a minute. Then he said something so wonderful it changed my life. He took a bite of his sandwich and said, "Kathryn, I can't give birth to a child, but I am not going to beat myself up over it." How amazing it was to just embrace my biological limitations. Thank you Peter Fabian for your passwords into a door I was stuck behind.
Yesterday I was journaling at the Cambridge Bakery. I have a stuffed toy bluebird I've been carrying around that sings a few very sweet notes. It's actually a bluebird recording tucked inside of it. To me, I am carrying around a "bluebird of happiness." Just as I was writing, a pair of very dark eyes smiled up at me. She is 10. She is Abby. She asked me what kind of bird was that? She pushed the button and we smiled together as it sang it twice. An eastern bluebird. She followed me over to the bin where I dumped my plate in. "What animal would you be?" she quizzed. "A gryphon," I said. Her eyes lit up. "I would be a dragon!" and she led me back to her pile of books. She handed me the one she was reading now..."Firestar" I think it was. She went on to tell me about it and showed me the others that went with it. Then she said, "I was born in China." Well, somehow the whole world seemed to right itself. They say truth is stranger then fiction and, well, yeah!
My pet turtle, Joe, is such a special little friend to me! He has been with me for 18 years and he's just a feisty as ever. One of the only real troubles I've had being his caretaker is that he absolutely hated to travel in the car. Considering how very often I have moved - I've now lived longer in my present apartment/ studio longer now than anywhere else in my entire life - I used to just dread moving. I tried everything. Small dark box, he'd freak out. His tank with water, more freaking out. Tank without water, forget it. I even tried holding him, no go. I used to just grit my teeth, pack every single thing and take he and the plants last. He would just scramble and be terrified the whole time. Last summer, I was watching my friend Kathy's house while she and her husband Gary were off to visit their kids. Kathy owns "Main Street Flowers and Gifts" where I work part-time designing. You can imagine a florist would have lovely flowers in her gardens to be watered. I figured that Joe would freak out with the car ride there, but Kathy has a pretend stream in her yard that ends in a sweet little pond that I knew Joe would really like. As it turned out, I just got finished doing my laundry and just to be funny, I stuck Joe in the laundry basket thinking it could be like a play pen for him while I watered the landscape. What do you know, he LOVED it. There he sat in the basket on the front seat of the car and just watched everything through the little "squares of air." I just laughed and shook my head in disbelief. I have no intentions of moving anywhere but I think I may be able to take him with me up to Door County now...
I went to see "Enchantment" and it really was quite the film! It started out sooo hokey I was tempted to leave the theater. There were a million kids there so I decided to stay. It was just hilarious. Once the cartoons change over into real life and featured New York as the place where 'dreams never come true,' I was hooked. Everything that happened was totally a surprise which makes for quite wonderful entertainment. When she started singing and the real rats & birds and cockroaches started cleaning up the apartment there was no turning back. It is a movie to go to with the kids for sure, but I think the grown-up parts were really the show stealers. Take the time to see it if you need a good laugh and like great writing. I think it may be one of the DVDs I'll have to buy!
Here at the Magic 98 radio ranch we have quite a spiffy lobby. A huge, split-screen TV showing four DJs in their respective booths and a fancy pants juke box playing the radio station of choice for the day. There is also a very cool piano key rug in the center of a very cozy grouping of chairs and a black leather couch. Tonight, it's even more groovy because I made the choice of driving here at about 60mph, on dry and snowless blacktop with at least 50 other cars instead of crawling at 20 on icy, snow blowy roads passing the three or four other cars slid in the ditches. I brought my fave quilt and Door County double fudge hot chocolate for a nightcap. I'll turn the TVs off, the juke box to mute and go to sleep knowing I'll be here when you need the company to start your morning right! It's also nice to know the coffee machine makes a perfect cup of creme brulee and this time I remembered to bring breakfast and my tooth brush. Life is good...
With Valentine's day just around the corner I will be nearly chained to the floor of the flower shop I design at. Main Street Flowers, downtown Stoughton, right across from Catfish River Arts and Antiques, is a small but man-oh-man busy place! I am not quite sure how cherubs and Cupid got confused with each other. Cherubs are those chubby baby angels and Cupid was the Roman god of love. Or how such a sad tale of the Martyr Valentine turned into such a wacky doodle holiday of underwear with hearts and eating chocolate and giving diamonds away. However, the flower business is just insane. Even for Mother's Day you have a lot of flowers but people often come and get them. On V-Day everything has to be delivered to be a proper Valentine. Yikes, I won't surface again til the 15th but I will have a bouquet of white flowers for myself! It's my favorite. It reminds me of a Plato quote I really love: "Light is the shadow of God." All white flowers mean the design of the arrangement has to be really something! Line and form and the green of the leaves get all the attention. And the fragrance???? Delicious!
Boy oh boy, you think a little cold weather and some snow was the end of the world as we know it by how some people whine! Don't people realize it's the fact that the ground freezes so hard that we have no earthquakes? What about fireplaces and hot cocoa with whipped cream? Did you ever see such amusing hats when it's hot out? Let's not forget those fun fadangusus you get to kick off the wheel wells of your car! The sound of the soft crunch under your boots when the snow is a few inches deep is totally pre-kindergarten fun! Snow is the four letter word that brings every cranky adult a chance to play again just walking out the door. It's a blast to walk down the street and see the warm breath that envelopes around your friends when they stop to chat. Come on, kids in snowsuits looking like oompa loompas who can't get up if they fell down? Frosty crystal patterns on the windows Monet would treasure, steamy windows that hide even what you know is behind the store you go in every day, eye glasses that fog-you-blind as you walk into Kwik Trip? Yipes, all this stuff is free! Did you forget how every insect in the world is on a vacation? When I see the tracks geese leave I know where the expression 'silly goose' comes from. You gotta love watching the dogs trying to do their business on just one leg...
I was sitting in one of my favorite places - the leather couch by the fireplace at Barriques Coffee Trader - when a little fellow was carefully placed by his mom on the couch right beside where I was. He had on a little black hat and a warm coat. He was so small I could see the flat bottom of his shoes a good eight inches from the edge of the seat. He had a 'cowboy cookie', which by any standards was big, but for him it was like the steering wheel of a car. He very carefully ate around the edge until his mother came back. She was a lovely gal, but she looked a little wiped out. I thought, the little guy can't be more than four, so of course she's tired. But as we started to chat a little it turned out she was one of the people in that horrible 100 car pileup in the fog on 90 not long ago.
My friends and I just couldn't figure out why anyone would be driving so fast in fog so I asked if she didn't mind talking about it. In hindsight, I think she needed to talk about it. Anyway, she said some of the people were really driving too fast, but it was the fact that it was perfectly sunny one minute and the fog came on like a wall. You simply could not see past it. That would explain why there were so many cars, I thought. She said the airbag was something she was really not ready for. It hurt to hit it, but she had to admit it saved her life.
By now, that cookie had vanished, Will was naked from the waist up and thinking the fireplace glass would be fun to touch. Her name was Nicole and she patiently explained to him that this fireplace was different from the one at home. Will then slid off the couch and climbed over the top and tumbled into her lap. She said she didn't mind at all if I talked about her in my blog.
"What about your car?" I asked.
Her eyebrows went up.
"I have to get a new one..."
"Darn!" I said.
It's amazing how much a smile transforms people.
One of the things I like to do is bake. I have a few recipes I have finely tuned over the years to the point where they really have become my own creations. One such recipe is what has been now renamed 'Vanilla Vaughny Shortbread'. It is very simple really, with flour, light brown sugar, butter and of course vanilla. The extra ingredient is a choice of either walnuts or pecans chopped up. Also, most recipes say to chill it first. I never do. I just hand press right out of the bowl. Anyway, I was at the new Super Target store in Verona, searching out its merits if you will, and no bulk nuts. Nuts. I went to the bakery section and a really nice gal, Marcia, wearing her official white bakers cap explained they did not carry bulk nuts. This lead of course, to us swapping shortbread recipes. She went on to tell me she was looking online to find a cool kinda cat face to make on a cake and happened upon a recipe for 'kitty litter cake.' ???? Yes, she laughed telling me, you actually get a kitty litter box and make it in that and of course, use chocolate frosting for...ug! But really, after I thought about it, the 'gummy worms in dirt' desert, which little kids just love, was good, why not? I'm still looking for the recipe...