As the new year is almost upon us, I always like to take a look back at the year gone.
I am really grateful for my apartment. When I was younger, my family moved several times; on my own I moved almost every year. When I was married we moved 4 times. During the separation I moved 7 times. After the divorce I moved almost every year until the year I found the place I am in now. Even that year I had just moved into a place I liked a lot but the place I have now wowed me so much I decided to do the deed one more time! Well, I've been there going on 12 years now! It has all the things I want the most. Besides wood floors, huge stained glass windows, French doors, doors and door knobs plus high ceilings all over 100 year old and it's on the second floor which gives me a nice view of the downtown.
The owners of my building are princely, letting me decorate it the way I like.
As an artist, having my studio right where I live (through the French doors) is perfect! My neighbors are thoughtful and watch out for me (as I for them) and even though I have to dig my car out, I don't worry much about snow shoveling. I have some plants out my front door and lots in my office, but I don't have to mind a lawn. I do miss having a garden, though. (One apartment I had I did have my own garden and that was great! Joe even had his own pool in the yard...) I make up for it working in a flower store part-time, which just happens to be right across the street. If there was some way to get a garden on the roof, well, I'd probably buy the building...
First off, I really want to say yet another thank you for supporting the Holiday Wish this year. Hudsy, Netty, Liz, Jimmy Mac, Mr.O and "The Other Jim" and I are truly honored to be amoung such dedicated, fun and hard working angels! Doing phones is a joy with the kind of listeners we have! (Ron, yes, I will join your family for Sunday pot roast, you name the day.) The real spirit of the holiday was glowing!
Then, for smaller matters, I have a new pet! Well, he started out as a 'feeder fish' for Joe. I often get about 1/2 dozen for him as a treat for Thanksgiving. I saw this little fellow swimming along with Joe and by golly, he didn't want to eat him, so now he is Cousteau and in his own bowl. All orange with black tips on his fins, very dashing for a goldfish!
Every Thanksgiving has its high points...this year's delight was getting a great recipe from devoted Magic 98 fan June Lemm. She was at one of our Taste of Home visits (Wanakee Remodeling) and naturally we got to talking about baking. Turns out she had a fantastic award winning coconut custard pie recipe and I have my Aunt's (the fabulous cooking teacher) recipe for perfect almond cake and we agreed to swap! Well, as much as June talked up the pie, it was even better then I thought. Had to search the universe for unsweetened coconut, I used organic eggs (it calls for 5), and organic sugar and well, you could name your first-born child after it. Thank you June for sharing!! I hope you tried the almond cake. Seems people are never on the fence about coconut, you love it or you hate it. As Pat O'Neill is huge fan, I made sure June had a copy given to him at the Taste of Home show but I think he's waiting for me to bring one into work...
Just when I thought I was safely away from Halloween...those new Butterfinger Crisps candy bars knocked me out...they are a cross between a KitKat and regular Butterfingers...now there are M & M Cherry Cordials. It's just not fair! I went to Walgreens just to get toilet paper for Pete's sake and the clerk just so happened to be stacking these new candies and worse, putting them on sale! We'll, I'm only human and an artist besides, to make one of my favorite flavors for the holiday and in two different color reds...well, at least I shared the bag with everyone I knew...
When I take my daily walk there are usually a few others out walking their dogs. If you didn't know Linda's dog was 15 and taking her sweet old-lady time, you would question Linda's
behavior...she is often standing in the middle of the path, coffee in hand, seemingly alone. Then 'Pepper' slowly comes round the bend and wags a slow tail hello. 'Gracy', on the other
hand, would probably climb a tree if she could manage, but Brian holds her leash tight. Kay's 'Cloe' is, more often then not, muddy up to her middle, tongue lalling out the side of her mouth. She will play fetch-an-anything as long as I'm crazy enough to keep throwing. 'Trip' takes Anita for her walk...Anita does well for only two legs, and Deb jogs by, but her 'Mya' is always racing even faster ahead in the woods. By the time I get home I have had enough 'dog' to really appreciate my Joe. He follows me around until I finally sit down somewhere. He'll stay by my feet until he is sure I'm not going anywhere then he'll go sit in the sun. I just love him!
With the Food and Wine show in town, my good friend Jennifer Wolf stays at my place. She and her husband, Ken, are not only very good friends of mine, they are both foodies. As a gourmet chef, Ken has created an amazing line of BBQ sauces (and dry rubs). It's called "Howling Wolf." (My favorite is the original.) But my friends, who like to drink, make up a killer Bloody Mary mix with them. Learning to cook in France, to owning his own restaurant in Wyoming, Ken has now begun to bottle and market on his own. They are in nearly 40 stores now! So, not only do I always have the 'all natural' flavors in my fridge (no high fructose syrup or gluten) but Jen is always introducing me to groovy new things to try. I tried some lemongrass ginger Kombucha last night..tasted a little like beer, but it's fermented tea. It was good! This morning, I had a glass of raspberry Kefir with fos! THAT was really good, like a smoothy but not. I get to try new things and they get to have my fresh lingonberry scones just out of the oven. Life is good!
I was looking online for a heater and thermometer for Joe's tank. He is getting a little senile these days and I think I need to warm his water a little more. I have no idea how many turtle years are compared to human years but 23 has got to be up there. I found a site in Florida that not only has all-things-turtle, but I can actually get Joe a mail-order bride. I'm serious, they ship them UPS! You've heard of being as cute as 'a bug's ear' but that is nothing compared to a turtle hatchling the size of your finger tip. I have never seen anything cuter. Some years back I was gifted with two baby snappers and I won't kid you, I cried when I had to put them back in the river. They were the sweetest gift, to this day, I have ever gotten. But snappers are not pets and it was not fair to them even if it broke my heart. On this website, they show different photos of the little critters and I'm already thinking of girls names...Lucy...Beatrix? I think I will have to meet her before I give her a name...
This year 'Habitat for Humanity' has changed their art fundraiser to include 18 galleries all around the Madison area. Last year it was all held in the "Robert Rae." I will have one painting in "Gary's Art and Framing" in Middleton, it's called 'Cosmic Caviar." That and another work from Betzy Delzer will be offered. Then I have another painting in the "Fanny Garver Gallery" State St. Here, Colleen Ott has a glass bowl and Deb Hooks has a clock. For me, this event is my favorite charity...all the art work has been made from recycled products and all proceeds go for the Habitat for Humanity project. This year the art offerings are really, really awesome. Last year you could bid, this year they are at set prices and you must go to the gallery to buy it. I've made my work out of recyced art. It was a challenge but way fun! You have the month of October to check it out. Here's the link.
The weather has been SO great for walks these days I decided to take Joe to the 'turtle amusement park' for an outing. First I put his safety string around his middle (A very swift looking two shoelaces tied together). This in itself is a riot as I have to literally put my foot on him to hold him down but only so he'll stay still. Once he has it on he heads for the door! But now...ta da...he goes into the little 'garage' I found for him to travel in. He likes it. He knows it means we're going out. Off we go to the car, then on to the path. He just pokes one foot out, waving to his fans, and then his nose. And when we get to the water...ta da again...the door opens like a little oven and he walks stately down and onto the little beach. This time there were two boys with their fishing poles but as they were having no luck, they watched Joe do his thing. One of the boys had a cell phone and was talking on it while doing everything else. I really worry about kids these days.... (Wonder why he wasn't catching any fish???)
How nice it was to have open windows again! I have been commissioned to do five paintings this summer. Me and R2D3 (my air conditioner unit) have been quite the companions. Really nice utility bill, too, yipes a monda, but I pay it gladly because the ink won't dry properly if it's so humid and did I mention I turn into Ms. Crabby Pants when I am too warm?? Geez, stick a fork in me, I'm done! The paintings came out swell and my clients are very happy. If you get to Appleton, you can stop at the Trout Art Museum and see two of the 11 paintings in my new String Theory group.
This Saturday is the Stoughton Coffee Break Festival. I'm one of the judges for best coffee cake...tough job but someone has to do it...at All Through the House.
Be sure to remember the Agora Art Fair is Saturday the 20th. My friend Becky and I will be there again, same corner booth as last year. There's free parking, things for the kids, ice cream, music, beers, and of course, lots of VERY nice artwork! Hope to see you out and about.
I have visited the Blooming Butterflies exhibit at Olbrich Gardens in the past but I was invited to come and see a backstage view of what goes on behind the scenes. My friend Sharon and I got there early so when Judy, the butterfly goddess, opened the newly 'hatched' monarchs encasement box, we could witness them fly out into the gardens. Who'd of thunk there is a real place called the Butterfly Farm in Florida and they deliver live chrysalises in the mail?? The butterflies land right on you as you walk about! I was surprised to learn that there are also birds they allow in the conservatory. No kidding, little quails skittering around under the plants! Apparently they eat a lot of bugs. Because the butterflies come from out-of-state, one has to be very careful not to let them out. That means they have you go into (and out of) a smaller room first, to be sure none escape. Missy told me it has happened and they have to dash out with nets and catch them to get them back. The big fish in the waterfall pools and tropical leaves and even flesh-eating plants are very interesting, but the orchids...they were the most gorgeous of all.
I know wedding showers are really all about the bride and groom getting a boost as a new couple facing the world together. It IS fun to hear all the ooohs and aaahs over all the nice and beautiful gifts...and at Amy Abbott's shower last Saturday we did just that! It was nice to meet her family and school friends I had only heard about for years. She is one very lucky girl! But man oh man, the food was out of this world! Thanks to food goddess, Erica...some amazing puff pastry with turkey, cheese and Dijon mustard, cheese cake embedded in dark chocolate on a stick, four kinds of berries skewered on toothpicks with handles, artichoke parmesan cheese dip, bacon-wrapped barbeque nummies, lime fuzzy punch and cupcakes so perfecty made you could justify bronzing them. I can hardly wait for the wedding!
I as astounded to learn just how wild people get in downtown Madison. Ok, it was a Saturday and the Friday night crowd must be the most boisterous, but I was really shocked. I got there early to be able to not only get a choice parking spot, but to enjoy everything before it got too hot. I have been commissioned to do a big painting for a client and I needed to get big paper at the art store. There was so much trash, broken tree limbs, papers, broken glass and I don't know what else all over State Street! As the day went on thought, the 'yellow shirts' showed up and picked up every single bit of trash. Then, the sweeper vacuum truck and it was transformed! State Street (and the Union Terrace) looked like the wild animals who had gotten loose were never there. It was lovely to sit out front of Steep and Brew and enjoy my coffee. The little birds around town are very bold. They hop right up to you, in that no' knees' fashion that sparrows do, cocking their head to the side and looking right at you...waiting for you to toss them something.
I am trying a new tactic with Joe. Yes, he seems to like traveling in the laundry basket but the thing is, he still tries to climb out of it. You think texting while you're driving is distracting...yipes a monda...Joes is like a monkey boy! I found what I think is meant to be a bait or tackle box that has a groovy little door that swings open like an oven does. It has a grid of open holes so he'll be able to breathe but not climb out. I put his favorite softy towel in it and I have it set up right next to his palm tree island with the door open. So far so good. If the sun is on it, he'll climb up the door. I am hoping that when he realizes it is a very safe place, he'll let me close the door and not freak out too much. I really want to take him with me up to Door County but if he's going to have a panic attack it won't be any fun for either of us. So I've planned on a small trip to the pet store to be a trial run. He'll be rewarded with several goldfish as a treat. We'll see....
It was sure wonderful to have a few days to just do some serious goofing off in Door County. I always have the artist reception at 'The Paint Box' on Memorial Day Sunday. Thanks to Mark Van Allen for holding down the fort for me! It is always nice to see my artist friends and meeting new people who like my paintings. But just being around all those cool breezes and sunshine! Antique shopping, great food, state parks and time to sleep in.
We saw a porcupine...showed us all his quills and then ran away. There was a woodpecker going to town on one of the birch trees just outside the living room window. I've always admired a bird that could pound its head like that and never seem to get a headache, but this guy had a real system! Tree shavings flew in a steady stream way over his left shoulder, no messy business under his work area! He had different patterns of sounds, like he was really making his own music, not hammering the heck out of the tree. How about those feet? They must have some unusual claws, gripping the tree so hard at such a bizarre angle! The big question, what the heck is he doing?
We went to Jacksonport for Mai Fest. I passed on the brats and roasted corn, but we waited in line for awhile for a funnel cake. I never had one before. I watched them pour the batter from a funnel container into a vat of boiling oil and pull it out like a snowflake shape. They shake powdered sugar on and then the three of us ate it before it cooled off. Tasted very good, but not something you could eat more than once a year! The three-year-olds riding the ponies for the first time was very funny. One little fellow was sitting perfectly correct but was so terrified I wondered why his parents let him stay on. Then right behind him was a little girl, half hanging off her saddle but her smile was so big and bright, I gleaned a great lesson in attititude! Best, though, for the whole time away was seeing a darling bluebird fly right across my path!
I have been working on a painting for a few weeks now, always juggling time to paint with all the scatee-eight other things I'm doing, and just so happened to meet a very nice person at True Coffee's west side location. She is one of the editors of BRAVA Magazine. There I was, bringing a new Art Gallery Guide for Wisconsin and meeting a friend for some coffee and yakathon time, and it turns out she was looking for an artist to put into her magazine. Would I be interested in having them come and take a picture of me finishing up my painting? Tarnation, you bet your boobee I am. It's a thrill to be part of such a classy magazine! If I understand it right, it'll be the July issue. I am still smiling...
Far from worrying that Joe is at death's door, I'm happy to report the little porker ate five gold fish in ten minutes the other day. He also packed away two large worms I absconded from the parking lot by the sports center the day it rained. Mind you, I never watch him dine on these delectables. It's all part of the food cycle for his good health. He loses his entire shell every year, piece by little piece. I tried to save them all one year, but they shrink and it's impossible to glue them all together again.
The schedule for the classes up at the Shake Rag Alley School of Arts and Crafts is out!
I'll be teaching a workshop on Aug 6th (Sat) for anyone interested in learning how to make a resin pendant necklace. Each participant will learn how to do it and make two themselves. You must be signed up by Aug 1st. The class is small but I will do more than one if it fills up. Class code is 11B356 but you can learn all about it on their web site here. See you there!
Every time I think I know my pet Joe he surprises me again. A little while ago I was worried sick about him because he would not eat ANYTHING...for weeks...not even shrimp or crab meat. All he did was blow bubbles. When I let him out of his tank he would just go on "shoe island" (which is where all my shoes live under the nightstand by my bed) and sit there like a lump. As it turns out, I think it just took him longer then usual to come out of his quasi hibernation stage. There I was, losing sleep, thinking he was pretty old and may die any day. Should I make sure all his pals get to see him just in case?? Where could I ever bury him? I have had him 22 years! I was actually quite a mess for awhile there. However, I knew I was really a goner when I was truly thrilled to see that first little lump of business under his driftwood! Divine poop! The living cycle returned!
Now he is his old frisky self, with new tricks. He waits by my bed in the morning for me to pick him up, put him in his tank for breakfast and bathroom break and then he wants OUT. He even goes right to the front door and waits! If I left it up to him, he would fall right down the stairs (I don't think turtle brains are very big). So I hurry up and get him outside and then he hides by my feet because he is afraid of outside for the first 15 minutes. Next time out, we go to the turtle amusement park...the stream off of Cooper Causeway...for his outing. I'll take some pictures and try to post them next time...
I'd like to personally congratulate Stoughton Hospital for getting the 2010 Press Ganey Award as Partner of Choice. It is a national award that only goes to 10 recipients. They have also just completed an excellent remodeling of their cafeteria/dinning and surrounding area. I am also very happy to say that Stoughton Hospital has chosen to support us local artists in choosing our work to jazz up the new digs! Gary Erickson's three gentle original pastels of the Stoughton countryside, five of Stephen Kozar's serene scenes of McFarland, seven of Cindy Hosely's bright digitals of flowers and misty scapes on canvas and one of my own larger originals of ink and metallic powders paintings now grace the hallways and eating area. It REALLY looks nice! You're invited to the opening this Sunday 11:00am till 2:00 pm and I've heard a rumor there are to be ice cream...sundaes.
I am happy to report I've completed a children's book I've been working on this winter. I am very pleased with how it turned out. So far, the feedback is really great, too. One friend, (who writes music) thinks it may make a good ballet someday. It never even crossed my mind when I was writing it but I think he may have really hit upon something. I am still waiting for my library friends' opinions. Now I am buried in all kinds of children's literature...just to be sure what I think is an original story, really is. The story is about a spider and a butterfly and I did learn some really interesting things about insects in the research process. (A spider is not an insect as it has eight legs). Research is really half the fun of writing for me...did you know that a group of butterflies is called an army and a group of flies is called a business? Who decides those things, anyway? Now I am trying to decide if I want to do my own illustrations or work on the next book.
I can't help but wonder what our founding fathers would do in our current political trauma. What is it going to take to heal us? I always thought that our parties were designed to work together in a body, like bone and muscles. That there are parts right with both sides. The bone being 'connected structure', the muscles keeping them protected and strong...then they work together. Too much bone, the body can't move. And all the muscle in the world won't keep a brittle or soft bone from collapsing. Muscle MUST wrap around the bone and bone MUST have substance. I'm thinking what's gone wrong is our focus. The 'fighting' energy would serve better directed at not who's "stronger, smarter, righter" but what is going to work to keep bone and muscles stuck together?
I won't pretend I am any good at politics but I have had my share of compromises. They are just that, both sides have to give. For me, that has always started with the hard work of listening the hardest where you disagree the most.
I have to just marvel how we all make it through Wisconsin winters. What with icy walkways, three-foot snow stacks on our cars, wind chills that hurt your face so much it's like you got hit, frozen toilets and gutters and by golly the endless grit coming off of the soles of our boots trapped in the house...how do we do it?? Lots of people I know really enjoy working out and running around in a gym. I am more of the school to go out in the snow or go ice skating, but even more, I'd rather sit inside by a nice fire with the seven books I am reading and my journal that I write in! As I don't have a fireplace in my apartment, I have a DVD fireplace. You can laugh if you like, but the only burn I have to worry about is the image on my TV screen playing the same crackling flames over and over. I bought it for a whopping $2 at Walgreen's. It can play music and crackling sounds, just music, just crackling sound or both! And, get this, you can adjust the flames! Bet you can't do that with real fire! Even though it is fake, the flames make the real color of fire in the living room. Joe watches it from his tank while I'm with my Irish tea and books on the couch. When Gregg came over with his girlfriend I thought he might be embarrassed that I had such a hokey thing on TV. But when I brought in the snacks, Kacey was sitting on the couch smiling and my son was holding his hands up to the fire like he was warming them...apple doesn't fall far from the tree...
I am really looking forward to being in the Garden Expo this weekend! My good friend Beck-she makes clay beads-(from Diakonos Designs) and myself and three other artists have our own booth. It's 614 down the aisle from the garden exhibit if you want to stop by. I have been working fiendishly to make some 30 new sets of jewelry. Pendants and earrings, hand painted, glued into bezels then covered in resin. It's a 48 hour process with just doing the resin! Beck calls them 'mini masterpieces' and, well, I kinda like the ring to that! It seems other people do to as I sold most every piece I've made over the holiday. More fun for me, the nice folks at the Shake Rag Alley Art Center have invited me to come there August 6th to teach a class on how I make them. It is also the same night as the Mineral Point 'Gallery Night.' The info will be in the next brochure they send out but if you are interested, you can actually sign up early because they are also at the Garden Expo. They have a double booth 1126 and 1200. Check out their website if you have never been there, it's such a great place to learn. They have all kinds of activities for all ages and all times of the year. www.shakeragalley.com . I'll be at the booth 614 on Sunday after my turn at Sunday Smooth! Be great if you could stop by!
It is the time of year when I go to the galleries that carry my work and I bring new art and jewelry. Tuesday I went to "Sweet Lips" (in Lake Mills) to bring a slew of newly made jewelry (Valentines Day will be here before you know it-hearts are really in!) and 11 new paintings. "Sweet Lips" is a generous-sized gallery with a coffee/pastry bar within it...seating for visiting or reading the paper as well. It's a trip I enjoy because not only does Brynn do a fantastic job of display, right around the corner is the "Cafe on the Park."
"Sweet Lips" opens at 10 so I get to the Cafe by 9. Missy is about the nicest waitress on earth, I really really like potato pancakes (they serve them with their fish fry all day on Fridays as well) and they always have Magic 98 on! Missy (who works every Sunday) tells me they always have on Sunday Smooth, too. As I am always on the air then I didn't know but now you do! They are open til 2 or 3 on Sundays. It's in an antique building, red and white interior, very homey. Excellent breakfasts, lots of pie choices and three types of cakes. It's not a very big place; you'll find 6 tables and about 8 or 9 booths and the single seat counter with swirly stools but best are the antique photos on the wall. They are all given to the place by customers. There is one of 18 guys in shorts and tank tops all tied together like sled dogs...it was the original fire fighters squad!
My Uncle Mario was patient enough to take a lot of my mother's side of the family's 8mm film reels and put them on a DVD. Like a lot of home movies there are huge gaps of what looks like the side of a wall (who can tell?), lighting so dim you cannot even recognize the people and all the rest just stops your heart. My grandparents and my parents when they were all younger than I am! My uncles in white tee-shirts, black slacks, hair dos with the poof in the front and slicked in back, with the perpetual cigarette dangling of their lips. I remember hating to have to wear my hair in those horrible 'banana curls' and by golly, they still look disgusting. All the cars have either very round edges or those wicked Chevy fins in back. My sisters and brothers all toddlers and the clothes...yipes! It's already bizarre enough to see that far past but it's even more like watching ghosts as there is no sound! I can't wait to see what my son Gregg thinks...he, of course, was not even born yet!