I am so glad my son (Gregg) and his wife (Schula) have chosen to have a house big enough to accommodate a serious party. (Though I adore my place there is hardly room to change your mind, never mind have a Christmas gathering...) They have a dog, Luke, who thinks he is one of the cats. He is the color of a deer and leaps on his long, slender legs onto the back of the couch and tucks his feet under himself. He is huge, taller then me when he is on his hind legs, but has the balance of cat. The cats (Hendrix and Weenus), on the other hand, think they are people. Gregg built them a "cat condo" way up above the kitchen cabinets. When there are too many people legs and feet on the floors, you can see the two of them watching everything from their Olympian perch. But this Christmas, the normally imperious Hendrix parked himself in one of the empty Christmas boxes. It was as if he thought no one was watching him and he was just grooving on the "inside of boxness" thing. It was just hilarious. After all the other people had their fill of turkey and ham, each cat sat politely on a kitchen chair, their little faces right up to the table. They were very carefully keeping their paws down and took their sweet time between delicate bites, while watching the other people clean up their plates. I bet they have a kick-butt stereo system in that condo...
Well it's a good thing smells have no fat or calories or I'd be the size of a trailer park. My kitchen has become a cookie factory. Mountains of sumpshus short bread sent out to my family (all of whom are on one side of the country or the other) (and friends) all tucked into crisp, wax paper in holiday tins. I think it is such a favorite cookie because of how buttery and rather plain they are compared to the ooodles of gooey, super sweet stuff Chrismas usually generates. I wish I could say it was a recipe handed down from a groovy Scott relative, but really it's my own results of at least 100 different attempts to 'get it right'. I will have it posted shortly (no pun intended) on the Magic 98 recipe page so you can make it too. With only butter, flour, light brown sugar and real vanilla,(ingredients most folks often already have in the house) it's even OK to have them for breakfast! Christmas is almost here with snow to boot, clearly it's a kids Christmas this year!
I must say I feel really blessed to be able to work with the people I do here at Magic 98. Amy Abbott, Netty Hansen, Liz Terry, Pat O'Neill and Jimmy Mac and myself were Santa's elves with roller skates on behind the scenes to make this year's Holiday Wish fundraiser one of the finest yet. I am astounded, too, in how generous our listeners really are! Several times a day we were all moved to tears ourselves seeing it happen over and over, people who have are so willing to share with those who don't! Just a hair under $8,000 was the amount taken over the phones and online! Private donations are still coming in! My favorite call was the gal who said I should give her $50 to pay back all the eye makeup she cried off listening to those who had monies awarded to them!
After all that business-numbers-money stuff, it was very nice today to sit and demonstrate my painting style with all the customers who came into "The Cornerstone Gallery" in Baraboo. I have a lot of my artwork there and Christine, the owner, set up a nice table for me so I could show how I do my stuff! It's right on the corner of 4th and Oak if you ever get up to Baraboo, stop in and say hi!
When I want to treat myself, I take a fun day trip to Ebert's Greenhouse Village. My friend Marie wanted to see the place and offered to drive and buy me breakfast at the Pine Cone (which is on the way) if I took her along. I'd have enjoyed her company even without all the bonus points, but it turned out just that much more fun. (Pine Cone has some of the best corn beef hash) When we got there I saw a sign: "PIE PUMPKINS." Remember...I grew up in a city...different pumpkins for pie??? You bet! Cooking pumpkins are smaller, a deeper orange and more formed to look like Cinderella coaches. How Martha Stewart! How wonderfully tasty! How blissfully domestic! HOW DEMENTED! My kitchen looked like an orange bomb exploded and that was after I took it out of the oven. To start with, only Hercules could hack that thing into pieces without hurting himself. If I ever see a sticky pumpkin seed again I just might get sick. It took over an hour in the oven to finally soften up and then the real work started. Well, now it's all baked and looks nice enough but I called Gregg (my son) and asked if he thought I should make another one in case. I can't tell you how many times some dessert has been transported to its destination with a sliver taken out of it with the outright lie of "I had to make sure it was OK" attached to it . So when he suggested I take a taste to 'see if it was OK' we had a real guffaw over that. Being the grand man he is, he assured me that he had made a cookies and cream pie and a chocolate cream pie. I already had the white chocolate and banana cream pie made, so if it didn't come out, we surely would not starve. Our Thanksgiving is later today. Hope yours was great!
I am very happy to say I did get my paintings up to the Appleton Art Center on time. It was a nice day to travel! It is tough to see all the dead deer but the harvesting farmers more than made up for it. Growing up in the cement of a city, farm scapes, old barns, livestock, tractors, horses and whatever that thing is that picks the corn and spits it out are just so romantic to me. I confess, I don't know what those really long, huge white plastic covered things contain, but there were two fellows running pell mell along the top of one! I wanted to stop my car and run after them it looked soooo fun!
I did stop at the Harp Gallery as it was recommend by a fellow antique lover. It's not even 5 minutes off Highway 41 and well, it was just jaw dropping. I highly recommend taking the few moments to stop in that place! I saw a watchmaker's bench, a Victorian corner chair, art easels and a set of 'Gentleman's Chairs' I'd have bought if I had the place to put them! Their website is one of the finest I've seen anywhere - www.harpgallery.com, You can even see those lion chairs I just mentioned. I liked them so much I bought some of the fabric they were newly upholstered with for my living room.
I have been working nonstop, it seems, to get the newest paintings ready for the Appleton Art Museum show. Everything had to be at my framers (Donna & Gerry) today! It's amazing to me how hours get used up like minutes when I am really focused on getting something done for a deadline. I've also discovered a great new place to bring my paintings. The McFarland Coffee House, right across from the library, not only whips up a perfect Americano, but they are going to have a show for me in January. Steven Kozar has a few of his paintings in there now. He and I already 'hang out on the walls' together in The Robert Rae Gallery of Fine Art in Stoughton. (They are having a Gallery Walk/Ladies Night this Friday evening) so we meet again there. We will both be at Robert Rae on Friday night and I am pretty sure Steve and his son will be playing music, too. Stop by, it's free and everyone is welcome!
My daily stroll had become very important. Having all this very fine weather makes it really easy to roll out of bed and start the day. There was a new fellow on the path, Coco, a huge Burmese Mountain dog, with one eye blue and the other disappeared into his shaggy face so I couldn't tell. His owner told me that he used to pull her children around in a wagon when they were little. He looked like a small bear. I learned that my favorite dog to visit's name is not Lucky, but Pepper. He is black and white and very old but so sweetly affectionate I can see why people have dogs for pets! I don't have one and don't want one...Joe the turtle is a perfect little fellow for me. I brought him over to the stream on Friday for perhaps his last outing before he goes off to sleep for the winter. He found a little black frog and tried to eat him. Good turtle action! He hid in the water under numerous yellow weeping willow leaves and I was startled at how even - as I never took my eyes off of him - his yellow stripes on his neck blended in so perfectly he disappeared for a few seconds! Freaked me out. He squished around in the mud and like any turtle worth his salt, didn't want to go home. But once we were walking again, he just hung his little paws over my hand and watched the world go by. Even with my glasses on I cannot see very well far away. On the path ahead of me were five red spots. As I approached, the five spots turned into 5 male cardinals who flew in unison up to a tree. They were like the blue angels pilots, all landing in formation on the tree. They all stood out on the branches like a posed Christmas card! All the leaves are off and they were live ornaments. Joe just stared at me.
It has really been nice to take my daily walk. One of the fun parts is meeting all the dogs people walk every day. There are a few I see frequently...some I've only met once. I hardly ever know the owner's names, but the dogs are easy. Like Cloey, she is never on a leash and is more like a deer. She is black and white and runs like the dickens all over, very fast, always chasing some elusive thing. Sometimes trying to get up at something in the sky! Then there is Danger...he is a dachshund who is always wearing a little sportcoat. His eyes are nearly coal black and his nose is very pointy. Danger to what, I can't begin to imagine. Then there is Lucky, she is some kind of poodle mix who got her name because it was considered she was lucky to be taken home. She absolutely must get a nice pet on the head or you can't pass by her. Griffen is a young but very friendly German Shepherd. To see him, he looks like he'd go for your throat - viciously - but he's like a big baby who is more likely to lick you to death. My very favorite is a very old black and white mutt (also named Lucky) who walks so slow her owner says the dog takes her for a walk. You can always see her owner but Lucky is so far behind she is usually standing on her own. There is another dog...I cannot recall its name...but the owners say it's a Golden Doodle. With a title like that who needs a name...
Even in all this rain the trees this year are just glorious. How can people live in a place that does not have fall colors?? I've been taking my daily walks and yesterday there were at least 12 robins splashing around in the stream. At first I thought it was like the old Roman Baths but the more I watched it was more like a Packer party. I was very close and they were having such a good time it was like they didn't know I was there. It really is just soo fun to walk through all the leaves. I remember there was a very grouchy old lady who used to live up the block from us. Mrs. Boswick. Everyone on the block had to line up the raked leaves up to the curb and the big, orange leaf sucker truck would come and snarf it all up. Well, walking home from school we would kick through that whole line of leaves with such joy it could hardly be contained. One day, old Boswick was out before us with a boiling kettle of water and she saw us coming and poured it over all her leaves so we couldn't kick them up. She was also the same lady who when we played kickball and it went up on her lawn she would run out and grab it and bring it into her house! One of my best costumes I ever had was to be dressed up as her for Halloween. We would get to the door, say our very polite "Trick or Treat" and the neighbors would say and who are you? "Mrs. Boswick!" No one could ever keep a straight face...
I have been wanting to take the New Freedom train ride for years! It was even more enjoyable than I thought. Mind you, I love antiques and American history and I am just goofy about Cowboy culture. I've read so many Max Brand books I feel like I've been dating him this past year. Considering he's been dead since the 40's, I consider myself lucky he has some 300 more books I have yet to read. Some of his characters actually jump on and off trains which is all fine and dandy reading about it. But seeing just how big and powerful those cars are, just the engine weighs 99 tons. Is that not like, 50 elephants??
Just hearing the properly attired conductor say 'All aboard!' gave me a thrill. My Grandpa was a railroad man in New York, perhaps it's in my blood?
There was a little girl, about three, who smiled up at me now and then from the depths of her blanket. There is no heat or seat belts, but you really don't need either of them. The slow pace, huge windows and small electric fans on the high ceilings really make you feel you are in another era. I wouldn't recommend it for little, little kids as a great 'fun thing' judging from the girl across the car. Her pink ankle socks were more present than her face for the duration of the trip!
In some of the cars (set stationary indoors in the train yard) there were dummies dressed in period clothes that are just 'campy' cool. But the thing that wowed me was the gigantic old snow plow. I don't know why I never thought about how trains get rid of snow. I somehow assumed train tracks where just exempt or that snow would automatically blow off the tracks I guess. When I first sat it, I thought, why do they have a ship in the train yard? It's huge and made of wood and carved in such an unusual way. The ride is just long enough to give you the feel of the old days. The leaves are in early color so that was nice, too. Next week is the pumpkin train if you were up a very laid back treat. The site is www.midcontinent.org if you want to check it out.
I am so glad the weather has cooled off! It has made it possible for me to go into my personal music vault and pull out as many groovy tunes I can find for the new "Sunday Smooth" show. How nice it is to have people call and say, "Finally I'll get to really enjoy your show so much more!" Apparently more people than I knew could only listen a little in the morning while they were getting ready for church. Then they would only get a few moments in the car on the way home. Now they can listen all the way til dinner and have a great soundtrack for all Sunday meals. They can read the paper all day! Two listeners called and actually said, "It''s about time!" Thanks so much for listening and calling to show your appreciation!
Also in this cool weather, my best friend Lori and I drove down to Ixonia to go to Ebert's Greenhouses. She got three huge mum plants on sale for a song. But more, it's just a nice drive and Ebert's is so delightful to walk around. They have one part right out front where you can make your own scarecrow. Big piles of hay, all kinds of clothes, hats and gloves to pack up and costume make your own character. We got some hot coffee and treats to nosh on while we went through the children's story house. First you sit on the hay bales while they read a story, then you walk through the stage set of the book! Fun!
I don't know how anyone could really choose to live somewhere that the seasons don't change. The leaves are just going to be spectacular this year, I can feel it in my bones! To help that along, I have subscribed to an email update you might like as well. It's www.travelwisconsin.com and is just a great site for what to do around our great state, but there is a leaf report they update every week so you can plan your trips to see the leaves at their prime. Over 100 people are part of making that happen!
I take my daily stroll, along the river, delighting in passing my favorite trees... one of which is a huge, I mean sofa-size trunk of a chestnut. Yesterday there was a Nolan Ryan of a squirrel just hurling the early nuts from above. I never saw it; I could only hear the nuts clunking one after another on the ground below. I was glad I wasn't walking under him...someone could lose an eye! Though he was neat, nothing has topped the two squirrels that lived in the oak tree over my little cottage I spent a fall and winter in some years back in Cambridge. I was working on my book "Silverpond." Very first draft in the middle 90's, and I would hear 'clunk'--'roll' for five seconds--and-- 'plompt.' After six of these, I went out to look. Silence. I go back in and of course it starts again. I go out. Silence. This time I went in and snuck out to the little what I called "yodel" balcony and quietly watched. Silence. Back in again and just as I sat down to focus my thoughts they must have shaken the whole branch because it was like a machine was tearing up the ceiling, then the load of them all thunder-bundled along the pitch of the roof! When I went out this time I went straight for the 'plompt' sounds and found a huge pile of acorns at the end of the drain pipe. I looked up to see two squirrels, totally quiet, watching ME. Their tails were going a mile a minute and I think they were wondering if I was planning on taking their booty. However, in my furtive imagination, I swear I heard one of them giggling and the other said, "You ain't seen nothing yet!" That was the day I learned where cartoons came from...
Joe is such a card, really. I was going to go to the post office but when I went to put on my shoes, he was situated so snug and comfy in one of them I just couldn't bring myself to make him move. I want to take him to the 'turtle amusement park' I've written about before, but putting mosquito repellent on seems more like putting plum sauce on a leg of lamb and I am the lamb! They are just vicious! Thing is, Joe doesn't care, because they don't bite him on his hard little head.
Often on Friday mornings I am either bringing artwork to or from my framer, Donna. She is more than that...she is my mentor, my friend and like a Mom to me. Now that I discovered that Joe will behave himself in the car if he is in the laundry basket, I am planning on taking him with me. Donna's garden is situated in such a fashion that she can stand at it. I could easily let Joe ramble around under all the coleus and still keep an eye on him. Only thing is, Donna has one of those 'hot dog' dogs. She calls him Puck but I call him Puckazoid. He is a very happy and cute dog but I have no idea what Joe will think of him. Puckazoid might think of Joe as a snack...I'll keep you posted.
Door County never lets me down! I went to bed early and slept in everyday and even got rid of the dark circles under my eyes! I didn't lift a paint brush, check my mail, answer the phone or cook one meal. I did read two books and journaled for hours every day which is real vacation for me. The place I stay at is just a quiet little place in the woods where every kind of moth known to humankind is on the screen door at night and this time, in the morning, a 'walking stick' and a 'cicada' stopped to rest as well! I got to have long visits with several of my artist friends and met a new artist I really hope to do a show with sometime soon. Her name is Bren Siblisky (www.brensculpture.com) and her sculpture is just out of this world gorgeous. We had a great breakfast at Cafe' Tlazo (in Algoma). I highly recommend a trip there. The coffee is perfect, they have indoor-outdoor seating and the food...I had perfectly poached eggs, black bean bread toast, Canadian bacon and a few grapes for garnish, as my breakfast. Bren had their homemade granola and yogurt that almost looked like dessert. Then we went off to her farm to meet her horses and talk art all day! I hope she and I will do a show together soon as I paint in metallics and her sculptures are bronzed! How cool is that!
The adventures of Joe continue. He is often sitting on his little palm tree island which rests on the floor in my studio. The sunbeams shine right in on it. He was there every time I checked on him. He has his little legs stretched out and lifted up in the air in all directions. It always funny to see him so! Sometimes his eyes will be closed and it seems like he's got a new yoga move going on. Other times he just stares ahead and I think he's pretending he's Superman. My office is divided from my studio by only a door. I keep the air conditioner on where I have my computer and where I paint but it's tropical in my office. I have a lot of plants, a little fountain, and garden statues and best of all, dried leaves on the floor. (My entire apartment has gorgeous hardwood floors). As I don't have a yard, my office does double duty. Thing is, that door is always closed to save the AC from having to cool it. Well, once again, I cannot find Joe. I'm calling, crawling around the floor checking out all his favorite haunts and he is not showing up. Well, after a few hours I started to freak because he simply was not anywhere. Usually when I call he may take his sweet time, but he'll make some noise or even come out so I pick him up. Was he stuck? Impaled on something? Did he get turned over?? (Which is fatal for turtles as they suffocate this way if they can't get righted). Worst of all, he doesn't love me anymore and won't come out???? Don't ask me what made me go check in my office because I don't know. But when I pushed the door open I could feel him slid with it on the other side. I kid you not I started to cry. Being the silent, little fellow that he is, he was there the whole time I was calling and looking for him! HOW he got in there and how he closed that door between us I can't even fathom, but to see his little face when I realized he was just helpless to get to me, well, can I be a big baby or what? I was planning to shower and go to bed then but I decided to sit and read awhile so he could sit on my foot for as long as he wanted.
The other day I was waiting for the cars ahead of me to obey the traffic light signals and I noticed that there were quite a few of those black birds that are often on the street diving at something they were all interested in. I kind of mentally prepared myself for the usual grim carrion snacks those creatures usually dine on. But this batch was in frenzy. They dove at each other to push them out of the way. They flew fearlessly down into the group of moving cars. There were some closer that the other pecked at to gain their spaces. It had rained a bit earlier so the road was still a little damp. Then the line of cars from the other side was freed to move for their legal left turns and the birds didn't even care! They fought like mad. I thought oh man, it's gonna be some gross, aflattened raccoon or something equally as unsavory and I really tried to turn the other way when I passed, but I couldn't help myself. I just had to see what made them so insanely nuts to risk their necks for. It was a flattened hamburger bun!! A hamburger bun! It was even all soggy! It still cracks me up because that coveted piece of bread made me think of the programs that are on TV these days and those birds, the ratings that get fought over for them. No accounting for taste...
I'm happy to say I got my "lake fix" in today. Bathing suit, flip-flops, packing a lunch and my journal and having the beach to myself for hours...awesome. Well, almost by myself. It seems the seagulls and the geese take turns on the beach. Today was a seagull day. I'm not making this up - when the geese have the beach, the gulls stay away. When the gulls are there, the geese stay away. Today there was a pair of them chasing each other around in circles. I think they were playing some kind of catch me-chase me thing and I swear they sounded like they were laughing and really enjoying themselves.
This beach is one of those 'swim at your own risk' places which so contrasts to the type I went to when I was little. Back where we sometimes went swimming, it was a huge pool that started shallow at all the edges and went deep in the center. One day, the lifeguards suddenly hustled everyone out of the pool. All the children were told to stay out of the water and all the grown-ups held hands around the whole pool and slowly walked to the center together. I had no idea what was going on but the power in all that sudden silence was very real. Then a shrill whistle blew, everyone went back to their chairs and towels and squeals and shouts and splashing commenced. I then learned from my mother that a child had been missing and they were combing the pool to look for him! You might think I would be scared to go back in, but even though I was only about five, I distinctly recall thinking how neat it would be if it were me who was lost and all those slow moving legs and careful eyes were making sure I was found. I must add here that when I was small if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I set my sights on being a real mermaid. Not like those fake ones on TV!
I had thought there was so much being said about Michael Jackson's death that I'd keep my thoughts to myself. However, I was lucky enough to be invited to see Stevie Wonder and John Legend at Summerfest last Sunday. John was even more then I expected as a major talent; what a wonderful voice he has and so much depth and style, too. But when Stevie came out, he was quick to thank God for all his blessings but was very upset about how Michael was being treated so negatively by the media. No surprise there, really...they were known to be good friends and fellow child stars, but I don't think anyone was ready for his emotional flood. At one point, he stopped singing his song, put his hands over his face and just lost it. He started to cry. Mind you, the entire audience was on its feet singing every word of the song while Stevie just melted in grief. Then he lay down over his keys, sobbing, until his daughter and a stagehand came out to comfort him as best they could. I've never seen anything like it. Eventually, he gathered his courage up again and asked John Legend to come back and sing one of John's songs. Then he asked John to help him finish writing a song for Michael right that moment. They did several of Michael's songs and even a Chick Corea number which seemed to recharge everyone's strength again. Then, for me the highlight of the night, his daughter, Aisha came and sang a flawless take on "I'm Going to Laugh You Right Out of My Life." (Nat made it famous.) She is her father's daughter in her very own right. Then, you can imagine, he sang "Isn't She Lovely" while she sat right there with him for the song. He went on to do all his hits and no one was sitting, everyone was singing along as everyone knows all the words! He did go on to do more of Michael's hits, but before that he came to the mic with Aisha and said quite boldly, "I'm not ashamed of my heart." And I thought a quick review of all his lyrics over the years and thought, for sure, it's been the key to his brilliance. 25 Grammys, in addition to numerous other awards, say everyone else thinks so, too.
Sometimes I tend bar for my friends Susan and Gary at the darling "Water St. Pub" in Shullsburg. Gary is just a fantastic cook; his burgers are beyond this world...they are soooo good, with sweet potato fries and the best iced tea! Susan, God bless her, has shared her secret with me and I have shared it with my good friends and now I will share it with you! Very simple and very affordable, it's a "Mr. Coffee Ice Tea Maker." You put in the water, then use bags or loose tea, then fill up the pitcher with ice (all of which is marked on the side of the pitcher), then push the pitcher up and push the button! It makes perfect tea, every time! I have really gone nuts and made all kinds of tea combinations. But my most favorite so far is French Vanilla(Bigelow). No sugar and no caffeine...no calories! Sometimes I make a pitcher each of French Vanilla and Black Cherry Berry (Celestial Seasonings) and mix them together! I also really like the Yogi Detox tea which I can't even sip when it's hot---tastes like medicine to me-- but iced?! It's great!
So far I have not seen these anywhere but Target and it's the best 20 bucks I've spent in a long time, not just because it makes great tea fast and perfect every time but because it's just plain fun to try new flavors all the time.
It's all a bit nuts again getting set for the big art weekend (June 19th and 20th) coming up. I have the bulk of my work in the 'Robert Rae Gallery' but for this 'Fine Artsy Weekend,' in an effort to help promote Stoughton's groovy new co-op grocery store, I'm the featured artist there for a month..
The receptions start at 5pm with free food and music happening all over Stoughton's historic downtown, but I'll be at the Yahara River Grocery Co-op on Friday and Robert Rae Gallery on Saturday all day. After the work of setting it up is complete it's a blast, but yipes a mondo, there is so much to do! Hope to see you there!
Well, I have got to say,my life is surely never dull....this last trip up to Door County for the art opening at "The Paint Box Gallery" started off with a nice early take off but my car broke down on the way there. The battery light came on then in about an hour the whole car just stopped! Then I realized my cell phone battery was also dead! How much fun can you have in a day?? I looked up, and right across the highway, was a friendly looking fellow talking on a cell phone next to "Petersons Pluming" and as it turns out, was Rich Peterson himself. He was such a kind fellow, he opened shop, called to find me a tow and a place to get my car fixed, (not so simple on a Sat. morning). Next, I was brought to Mike Witt's "Lincoln, Ford, Mercury" (I just so happen to drive a Mercury) and they too astounded me with their kindness. Mike not only went and got me an alternator, but had trusty Kent install it right then. John whipped up the paper work and patiently explained how alternators work and I was one happy camper on my way by noon thirty! I learned a little about bass fishing and elk hunting and visited with several other fellows, (in for oil changes) while I sipped a cup of freshly perked coffee. How nice of the universe to arrange all this on my day off rather then on my way to the Magic studio at 5:30 in the morning on Sunday! Next time I go up, I plan on stopping by both places to say hi and thank them again.
I am leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow for Door County again. I love driving out of town through all the blinking yellow lights! "The Paint Box Gallery" in Ephraim, is having an opening reception ("11 am till 2 PM"-----come on up if you're not doing anything, everyone is invited!) As I am one of the many artists on display there, it's always a nice time to see all the other artists and catch up on everything. I am leaving Magic Sunday Morning in the very capable hands of Lanette Hansen so I know all is good while I'm having a morning to sleep in a little!
Several years ago, I was bringing some art work up to the Francis Hardy Gallery in Door County. I was looking for a nice B & B to stay at so I called "Inn On Maple" which I found in a B & B brochure. Turns out the owner is named Louise Kathryn and I am Kathryn Louise. Add to that, her husband Bill is a cowboy book reader like myself. I call that Divine Providence! It's in a historic building. The bedrooms (all six of them) are decorated with antiques, quilts and soft colors. The breakfast...yipes a mondo! I was once again, bringing up art this past Saturday and had pancakes, a warm apple tart, fresh strawberries and bananas, cherry-orange juice, lemon poppy seed bread and Door County coffee. The evening before, Bill made a fire in the common room and Louise and I yakked like family while we sipped hot lemon tea. It was soooo relaxing! But the best part was taking a long, hot shower and drying off with the thirsty, white towels. Louise puts some kind of secret fragrance in them. There I am, with one towel wrapped around me and the other completely over my head laughing like a lunatic and thinking how I must look.
Next to each is a journal that people who have stayed in the room make notes in. It's just so home-like and cozy. I always feel like I'm at my aunt and uncle's place. Whether I sit outside on the private deck, in the front porch dining area or in the common room, it all feels like a home away from home.
This time of the year is my busiest! First just getting new paintings done, then off to my wonderful framers Donna and Gerry, then to all the charities, galleries and stores. I'm lucky if I don't fall asleep at my painting desk. I have nearly completed painting my friends' condo and I must confess - it looks stunning! I am blessed that my good buddy Kevin Korth was kind enough to lend me yet another ladder, as the 12 foot was fine for the castle kitchen, but the bedroom peak is 12 feet. Today that gets the last of the soft purple and the bathroom gets its second coat of sea mist green. Classy!
The WHA Art & Antiques Auction begins next Tuesday (5/26) and one of my favorite paintings will be for sale. I donate something every year but this time I have been put in the brochure it you want to check it out.
Through the Appleton Art Museum, I was invited to participate in "Secura's 29th Annual Fine Art Competition." I have some brand new work I am really, really pleased with so I decided to go for it. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw it with a green honorable mention ribbon on it! Who'da thunk an award would feel so nice! I paint for a lot of reasons but this was such pleasant surprise. The other winners had some gorgeous work so it was doubly nice to be considered part of that! Now I am making more, only much bigger!
I have been also painting on the inside of one of my dearest friends' new condo (Lori and Greg are the friends). The kitchen is a tall, castle shape and I have been working on a 12 ft ladder. I now know at least 12 yoga positions, which I can assure you are not in any books known to man or woman.
They have left me Matty...she is the Pug guard dog who makes sure those dangerous school buses don't attack us. As the condo is across from a elementary school you can just imagine how much work she has to do. She'll get in a few feisty 'baarf! barrf! baarfs!" Those buses hightail it outta there.
Then there is another Pug, Sofi, and she is a close relative to Eyore from Winnie the Pooh fame. I have never heard her bark, but when I walk in she always looks at me like, "oh man, there is that nut that moves all the furniture around and climbs the walls, I am so outta here..." and she'll go hide in one of the bedrooms. Then there is tiny poodle, Lyla...I keep expecting to find her little label sewn into her side somewhere. She is so small she fits inside one square of the floor tile. She stares up at me every day and seems to say "do you live here now?" I'll pet her and she trots back to the enormous pillow they all share in front of the patio doors. All of them are rescued dogs and it's a fine picture to see them, a big puppy pie, like a little raft of snoring, floating fur, from my lofty perch.
Sure was nice to wake up to the sound of a wood thrush! My visit home was entertaining and fun. I am now back after a rather wild few days going from Troy/Albany New York, to Mass. (it's only a 45 min ride from Troy) and then up to Quebec City. LOTS of driving but my Aunt Lisa and I were brought up like twins since birth and we always enjoy our time together. It's true, my mom was just 15 when she had me, and my Grandmother was 39 when she had Lisa. So, even though she is my aunt, she is still six months younger then me. They dressed us the same and we were play pals from bed to baths.
She also is a painter so we went to the 'Clark' (an amazing museum) in Mass. and to about 20 galleries in Quebec City. There was even a little snow up there but the cool weather made walking up the hills easier. It was very perturbing being so bad at my French, but for the most part, it was a lot like Sesame Street learning. A red octagon that said 'Arret' was easy to understand as 'Stop' but the writing on all the monuments? Yipes a mondo. And menus? If the people around us weren't so friendly and knew at least some English we would have really been in trouble.
When I got home, Joe sat on my lap for two hours without moving. I guess he missed me, oui?
I often journal while eating my breakfast out. Once my blood is carefully replaced with coffee, I can get the most clear-headed ideas and work through any issues confronting me. One of my most frequent, favorite places is on the lake, in a window seat, known to the waitresses and staff as my 'office.'' It's bliss to have my coffee poured for me, a steamy plate of scrambled eggs cooked just right and the lemon remembered for me in my glass of ice water. Normally the TV sets that are anchored on either side of the dining area are on, but muted. This is one of the reasons I enjoy this place. However, the other day, I was sitting in my 'office,' just relishing the sights of the usual 'clown pants verity' of patrons, when a woman at least a day or two older than God shuffled in and sat right behind me. I casually watched out the window, the backs of two fellows I've never seen in my life, walk to their car. It astounded me that I didn't have to see their face, know their name or what they were about to know they were father and son. Why, not only were their gaits exactly the same, their blue jeans hung off their backsides in the exact same fashion. All of a sudden, the TV was blaring and the canned laughter tracks made me jump a little in my seat. Madame behind me was riveted to some game show! Did she have a remote in her purse??? She was talking very loudly to the waitresses who spoke very loudly to her. She was very, very cute but I was glad I had already finished my eggs before I heard her blow her nose even louder. After she had left, the waitress told me that this same woman didn't stay to see the end of the show. Apparently she raced out of there to watch who the winners were at home! It made me smile to think that one woman's office was another woman's living room.
I have been on the other side of my brain. That does not mean I am out of my mind, it just means I've been painting! Right brain thinking. Writing is left brain thinking.
I had been so worried about bringing Joe with me to teach the little kids at the art workshops. Usually loud noises and car rides are horrible for him. But the ride in the car was only for five minutes so he just tried to climb out of his tank all the way there. There I was worried that when all those 5, 6 and 7 year olds would be ogling him in his tank he would hide in his shell. I looked over my shoulder and there he was hamming it up! He was pressing his shell bottom up against the glass so they could all look at him! He was a hit. I had gone to several libraries and taken out over a dozen different books for the kids to explore, too. The two-headed turtle was everyone's favorite photo. I was amazed at how much the kids enjoyed making a turtle top! It's a great program called The Kegonsa Family Arts Festival . The kids get to try everything from karate and dance to clay tiles and beads and my class, painting! The moms and dads who came along learned something, too!
Next time I'll have four workshops and fewer children in each one so we can have more time to learn together. I met a lot of new artists that day!
It seems that just about everyone I come in contact with is counting the days until spring. E gads, you can wish your whole life away! It's cold six months out of the year...how silly to choose to be negative about it. I love it like this! I'll admit driving in the snow and ice is not so great and I wouldn't want to have to be outside fixing telephone poles but I am convinced I must be descended from a long line of polar bears or something because I prefer it colder. The air is so much crisper and the lighting is so lovely and snow itself is magical. I mean, come on, you're walking on water! How cool is that?!
Coffee and I go way back, too, and whether I'm snuggled up on my own sofa reading a good book or sitting in a coffee shop with a friend by the fireplace talking stupid for awhile, that is top shelf enjoyment. As for working, I get a pot of chili or some nummy soup going on the stove and then slip on a good book-on-tape and have a story read to me while I am painting or making earrings. Hearth and home are so sweet if you let them be.
Joe is living the life. Right now, as I am typing away on my computer, he has both his feet stretched out the back and his little arms stretched out the front. His eyes are just hidden underneath the fronds of the tiny palm trees on his little island that sits in the middle of the studio floor. Six of these little trees are staggered into different levels of green formed foam...he's right on the top. When I had a yard, at my last apartment in Oregon, I'd float the island in one of those round, kiddie pools. Between the driftwood log and his island, he'd float around catching some rays while I would journal. I miss having a yard!
Last Saturday I had a new student over for a few hours and Joe politely made his way over to her foot and sat on it for a moment, his way of saying hello, before he went off to explore under a pile of drawing papers I leave for him to enjoy.
They have asked me to teach a few short workshop classes in March for the grade school here in Stoughton. It was my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Horowitz, who introduced me to painting. Not only am I really looking forward to it, it's my way of saying thank you to her. My trusty assistant, Maggie, will be helping me. I've decided to call the class 'Turtle Top' giving the 'youngins' a chance to try different mediums and still have a 'dressed turtle' to take home to hang on the fridge.
When Joe and I go on our outings, people don't often see him right away. They just see me walking slowly, looking at the ground a lot and talking and make snap judgments about my sanity. However, once I explain that Joe leaves his Bermuda shorts and sun glasses up in the studio because he likes to keep a low profile, they realize all is well.
I really enjoy my Monday mornings, as it is my Sunday morning to sleep in take my time to do what I want for the day! My son, Gregg, is coming over this evening for linguine and clam sauce along with some brussels sprout-parsnip soup. I've got my 'Viking rune' shortbread cookies baking in the oven, too. This Christmas time I made oodles of them for my family and friends. Just in case you are not familiar with runes, there are 24 of them in the alphabet I have learned to read. All the rune symbols can be made with short, straight lines which makes them very easy to press into the shortbread dough.
I have brought some of my artwork and earrings I make to a terrific place called "The Railroad Cafe" in Galena, Ill. Galena has always been a place I've enjoyed visiting and this cafe has great food and great coffee in an antique atmosphere. You guessed it, it's right by the railroad tracks. They also have live music on the weekends and a menu that serves some vegetarian things. If you ever get down that way be sure to stop in and tell Connie hello. If you want to call ahead, (they are closed on Wed.) for directions, the number is (815) 777-0047.
Oh, I nearly forgot. I promised some listeners I would post this phone number if you had any questions about your TV switching over. Clint, from WPT TV, gave a snappy little lecture and demonstration at the Stoughton Library and left this number for people who have questions about the change over. (800) 422-9707.
My newest treat these days are those VERY cool Redbox DVD rental units. We have one in Stoughton right in front of the Walgreens. It's kinda Star Trek to be able to walk up, use the touch screen to go through the movies, pick what you like, zip your card, tell them your email and it slides out your choice for $1.00. Then when you get home it sends you an email telling you what you rented. From your computer, you can check out the movies at all the boxes, get a synopsis of what they are, reserve them if you want, and when you're done, return them at any of the boxes. I have a thing for cowboy movies. Real good ones, like "3:10 to Yuma" which I had already seen was at the box in Stoughton, but when I went to get my new eyeglasses at the Shopko on the west side, la de da, there is a Redbox inside Cub with cowboy movies I had not seen yet. Sweet! When you're finished, you put them back in the same slot they slide out from and your return conformation is in your email box. When I first started using it I ended up teaching whomever was behind me but it's really easy to do on your own and more important, fun!
Looks like I am going to have to break down and BUY another pair of ice skates. I've been going since I was five and naturally I've had several skating costumes. The photos of me in them are borderline hilarious--red fluffy ear muffs and matching red corduroy short skirt. Don't get me wrong - I'm only an average skater. However, I grew up in a city, so we slung our skates over our shoulders and walked to the indoor rink. We went all the time. When I came to WI and had to skate on bumpy ice it was an education in falling the best way you can.
Only a few days left for all those paintings to be in one place (The Robert Rae Gallery of Fine Art), at the same time! It's been a nice show and I'd like to thank all Magic 98 listeners who took the time to visit and also buy paintings and bookmarks. These will still be available but a lesser amount, as Steve Kozar's show will open on Jan. 16th and he'll need the space. A few doors down, at Peeling Ceiling Pottery Studio & Gallery, you will find a lot of my paintings and earrings, too.
I am lucky enough to live three doors away from the Cinema Cafe in Stoughton. There are four theaters and all have round tables and upholstered swivel seats so you can eat some excellent pizza while you watch the movie. My son, Gregg and his wife, Schula, and I went to see 'Yes Man' last night. I had at least five belly laughs, two of which I lost my breath it was so funny. I will probably watch it again. Jim Carey has always been accused of over-acting but it doesn't make him any less hysterical. It's a cleaner movie than 'Liar Liar' was (which I really enjoyed, too) but the crudeness is like what all of his humor is based on...what people really hide! I'd give it 4 1/2 stars and recommend it to anyone who'd like to up their happy quota.