Wednesday, May 31, 2006


This Maine Coon cat woke me about 5:30-ish this morning.........licking my eyelids......

Monday, May 29, 2006

Gypsies, tramps and thieves

You know it's gotta be good for me to get up at 5:15 am. Gypsy Caravan, the annual fundraiser for the St. Louis Symphony was this weekend. It's a flea market/antique bonanza with some craft booths thrown in for good measure.

This was the first time I've attended as we have been out of town in the past. I went with my best flea friend Robin, also known as my good luck charm since she helps me sniff out the best stuff. She has a serious knack for junkin' as she calls it. We went early and paid extra to do the "preview" sale from 7-9am which is why I had to get up so early. Despite the cost ($20 instead of $5), it was TOTALLY worth it as we had the pick of the offerings plus we didn't have to deal with the crowds or the heat.

I found some wonderful items:
- Set of vintage alphabet stamps.......all upper and lower case letters plus some symbols insluding a very cool pointing hand. The letters are maybe 2 inches tall and are a fantastic font. In excellent condition I might add and simply a steal at $8.
- Huge vintage map of Vienna that I was drawn to because of the colors.....warm pink, coral, soft green, sienna. So gorgeous.
- Bag of maps, perhaps 50 or so.
- Game, the Treasure Hunt, from 1940. Wonderful phrases and little letter cards.
- A few from the late 1800's is a music book. A child's primer from 1901 with lovely drawings.
- A big red metal arrow; it is rusty and just looks super cool. I will hang it in the studio.
- Bag of small wood geometric pieces, painted all different colors.

Great scores all around plus such a fun day. I can't wait to get to work as I have lots of new ideas.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

New Painting

40" tall, 30" wide

It's about trying to find a spot of serenity in a crazy world.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Simple recipe

Take 2 Wild Dungeness Crabs (my cynical husband snickered at the "wild" signage at Whole Foods, oh duh, like someone is farm raising crabs)

Add 1 round loaf of hearty whole grain bread from Companion Bakery + Plugra butter

Serve with properly chilled champagne

Follow with vanilla ice cream topped with fudge sauce and fresh strawberries

= Happy artist + spouse

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Once upon a time, in the year 2000, I left the insurance business to start my artistic quest. I honestly had no idea what direction I was going; I simply knew I had "something creative " inside of me. Those days I was reading lots of inspirational material, tons of self help books, basically whatever I could get my hands on. This was(and still is) my very favorite poem.

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Down time

When we got home from Marion very late Saturday night, I was facing a delightful 11 day "break" of sorts. Hopefully a break of the relaxing kind which would also allow me to make some art and replenish inventory. I have a massive "to do" list of course, mainly related to the business. Along with that I also had a grandiose plan to resume my exercise, catch up with friends and regain some balance in my life. All while pursuing my new "in the moment" mantra.

Yesterday, during a session with my coach, it was an aha moment........I heard myself talking and it was so type A personality was trying to tackle balance with a vengeance. I would conquer it no matter what, using every fiber in my being, scheduling myself to the max. By God, I was going to be in balance if it killed me.

Huh? It hit me, doesn't this kind of defeat the purpose if I struggle to attain perfection in my balance!??!?!?

Ok. Back to the drawing board for a new plan. Be gentle with myself in pursuit of balance. And stay in the moment.

Monday, May 22, 2006

An Excellent Adventure

Our Atlanta trip was terrific. Really fun. There is nothing like spending time with small children. They have such a sense of the moment, living each and every second just as it occurs. Not jumping ahead to the next one, not mentally formatting “to do” lists. They just live. I mean how obvious is that yet so goddamn hard. Needless to say, being with them was exactly what I needed. John too I think. It gives me an immeasurable amount of pleasure to see him with those kids. The trip was just perfect.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I have heard Kung Fu Fighting on the radio twice in the past week. What is even worse is that I continue to sing it in my head. This is wrong on so many levels. I think I need a new oldies station.

Friday, May 19, 2006

We are in Marion, Iowa. Honestly, I don't think I have ever been in Iowa before, but Marion and Cedar Rapids have proved to be a great intro thus far. Adorable towns. Cedar Rapids is more like a small city, very cute, there is a river running through it so it's scenic. We booked our hotel there because we are Hampton Inn junkies.

The show itself is in Marion - a park in the center of town. Marion seems like a wonderful small town. It has enough going on to be interesting, yet not too much to lose its quaint atmosphere if you know what I mean. Just right.

Set up today was a breeze. I have a wonderful spot next to a gorgeous tree. The sun was shining and I felt so happy to be out of doors. Finally, 75 degrees and sunny. I am so lucky to be pursuing this life.

There was an artist party tonight at a local gallery. We were feted with terrific pizza from a local spot, wine, snacks and home made desserts to die for. I met some new people and caught up with some folks I already knew. It was fun and a nice treat. It makes such a difference when the community embraces the art shows; there is a very welcoming feel which is really wonderful. I am excited about this show.

So, if you're in the area, come on out to the Marion Arts Festival on Saturday.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My favorite CD of the moment is All the Roadrunning by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. I bought this one allegedly for John as I haven’t totally come clean about whether or not I like country music. I indulge my own illusions by calling this "bluegrass."

Whatever......I love the sound and the words. Maybe it’s because we are doing so much roadrunning of our own these days, but I can relate to these tunes. They are metaphors with layers of meaning (much as my collages) and I would expect many people relate - all for different reasons.

And I totally dig Emmylou’s hair. John wants me to let mine go gray. He says he thinks I would look cute however I wonder if his interest is motivated by some budgetary concern. I will confess to spending more money on my hair than any other part of my grooming regimen. What can I say; it costs a lot to achieve this natural blend of color. The kind of color that people approach me on the street (or at Starbuck's) to compliment the magnificent weaving of blond, brown and copper.

But I digress.........if I were guaranteed to look as good as Emmylou I would definitely go for the gray.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Today and every day I feel very blessed

Laumeier is over and we tore everything down last night. It was ugly, very wet, but luckily not real rain, just enough to be annoying. When we got home we had to spread the tent parts out all over the basement so they can dry before we pack up to head to the next show. Ugh, what a mess. The show did turn out profitable for me, not as good as last year but still a success despite the weather.

I sold a couple of my older works including the piece, Are you too Stout? She had been around for a couple years, made as a feminist statement of sorts and I honestly didn't think she would ever sell. But I met the perfect woman yesterday and she fell in love with the piece. That made it extra special because I feel like the painting now has the perfect home. But I also feel a little like I have parted with an old friend.

This morning, bright and early we hit the road for Atlanta, a family trip with my step daughter, her husband and our 2 beautiful grandchildren. Some have called us crazy for attempting so many activities back to back, but this trip was very important to us.

So we drove all day in out little car caravan and are now happily camped in a couple of suites at a lovely Hampton Inn where there is plenty of room for everyone. The main purpose of the trip is to visit the aquarium and Aidan is so excited about seeing Whale sharks. We will do this tomorrow, in fact, Beth bought advance tickets. I am probably as excited as Aidan since I also love aquariums.

Being around these children brings me so much joy.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

It's May in St. Louis?

It was cold yesterday, damn cold. You might not have thought it was too bad it you were running errands or were spending the day somewhere sensible, like indoors. But after being outside for 11 hours straight, I can state with confidence......IT WAS COLD.

One of the best things about doing a show on my home turf is the ability to pick out my clothes each morning. This photo depicts my morning attire; that was actually the warmest point in the day. Note the gorgeous chenille woven scarf that I bought from Nancy last weekend when I was freezing my ass off in KC.

Later in the day, I "suited up" with a mohair turtleneck, a polar fleece jacket and gloves. Also still wore the scarf wound around my neck. Most of the patrons were gone by then as 50 degree weather doesn't provide the right evening to stroll an art show. The artists were all huddled together in the aisles, no one in their booths anymore. One very smart guy had a tiny portable propane heater. I want one for Christmas.

Despite the weather, I still sold some art and am grateful for the lovely people who came out.
Thanks to Bud for the picture; he was filling in for my "official" photographer, Marian. God only knows how he caught one of my smirks on film.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Another first yesterday as John and I set up the tent in gusting wind. There were times when nervous Nellie (that is me) was hanging onto the tent poles to make sure it didn't take off. We have a ridiculous number of stakes down in addition to our weights so I think we are pretty safe.

I have no idea what got into my husband's head to do the set up yesterday. The weather was changing by the minute and I think he was concerned that today would possibly be worse, plus there is always an advantage to being ahead of the crowd as it's easier to park near your space. And I am glad it's done but it sure wasn't pretty. So all we have today is to put up the art.

Afterwards I bought some rubber boots. They are like Wellies only not because Wellies are a little over my budget. But I would sure love to get a bright red pair. Mine are basic black, the little Walmart Wannabee Wellies that I got in the children's section for $13. Now let's hope I don't need them.

So, if you're in the St. Louis area, come on out and see me at the Art Fair at Laumeier this weekend.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Where Fredrix trumps Dyson

Remember all my consumer bitching a few weeks back......primarily issues regarding the Fredrix canvasses and our Dyson vacuum? Well, oddly, both have been resolved on the same day. It's a tale of good news and really good news.

First the good news.

We received a call from Best Buy that the vacuum was ready. Actually, scratch that. My step daughter received a call from Best Buy. They are seemingly unable to correct their records (after being told numerous times) to reflect our proper phone number. So, 6 weeks after the original drop off, John went to pick it up. He asked to "test" it since it had not worked after the first round of repairs. He was allowed behind the customer service counter where he plugged it in, turned it on and promptly heard the same loud screeching from before. In other words it was not fixed. Again.

I kind of wish I would have been there at that point to watch the drama unfold. Because my handsome, distinguished, ever-polite husband, who is very slow to anger, hit the wall. You see, Best Buy suggested that the vacuum be shipped back a third time for repairs. They offered to "loan" John a vacuum for a price that would later be refunded. Huh!?!?!

Needless to say John "splained" it to them. In a loud firm voice. He can be scary when he gets intense like that. A manager was consulted. And John eventually walked out with a brand new Dyson vacuum, a newer model with additional features. He is disappointed it had to get to that point, that he had to basically get very vocal and demanding before they did anything. Clearly "nice" doesn't work with Best Buy. And oddly, they did not offer the extended warranty this time, tee, hee, hee.

And on to Fredrix, this is really good news. Well, what can I say.....they have been a concerned company from the get-go, truly responsive to my issues with their canvasses. I cannot even say when I last encountered such a top notch group of individuals. And I am not just saying that cause they gave me a bunch of free canvasses. Which they did. To my utter delight, I arrived home from a meeting today to find boxes of canvasses on my doorstep. What an incredible thrill; basically an artist's dream come true.

The vacuum works great by the way, sucks like a pro. We filled up the entire bagless cannister on our fur stairway alone. But now I best get to work; I've got a lot of painting ahead.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Normally when we arrive home after a trip the cats saunter out pretending they never noticed us missing from the house. It’s a cat thing - acting above it all. They are then somewhat withholding of their affection and subject us to about 12 hours of kitty cold shoulder, a form of feline punishment which should apparently remind us to never leave again.

But not Sunday night.

I imagine they heard the garage door because Gilligan was already there when I entered the house, purring, rubbing my legs, either showing obvious affection or begging for soft food.

I heard Merlyn trotting down the stairs. He hit the wood floor in the foyer and skidded around the corner on furry paws. By the time he got to the kitchen he was literally running and barreled into me with a full speed head butt. He then threw himself on the floor flipped over onto his back, rolled over then did it again. He was a circus cat. It was an undignified, dog-like demonstration.

So I guess they missed us. Which must be why they were crawling all over us in bed on Monday morning, 5 am to be exact.

Of course I was already awake due to a persistent finch that was tapping on the glass window in the guest room. This crazy bird sits on the outside of the window and incessantly taps its tiny beak. Taptaptap. Taptaptaptaptap. A small sound but enough to wake me from a sound sleep. Also enough to be incredibly annoying, as in dripping faucet annoying. I approached the window and the bird cocked its head to look at me, then flew away only to quickly return to the tapping. I wonder if there is a nest in the magnolia tree that is outside the window? I finally lowered the shade and the tapping stopped.

In other news, the hummingbirds are back. We have only seen the male thus far. He is a big eater though and hangs out on the feeder a lot. He’s also unafraid. I was watering my flowers and he was on a flowering bush watching me. He then flew over to a pine tree and assumed a perch. I am so mesmerized by these little birds and it is such a thrill when they migrate back each year.

And speaking of my flowers......the ones I planted before I left......they are still there! Right where I left them in the planters on the patio. Amazing, no sign of deer destruction as of yet. Last year the deer ate an entire Hibiscus bush down to nubs. I didn’t buy anything nearly so exotic this year, just geraniums, asters and marigolds. I thought I heard somewhere that animals don’t like the flavor of marigolds. We will see.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What is the difference between a dog and an art fair artist?
A dog eventually stops whining.

My booth neighbor Marcia Engeltjes shared this with me on Sunday as I was whining about the cold. Of course I apologized for my whining and that's when she told me the joke because there is always so much whining at these art fairs. Typically I am the "happy girl" so the whole whining thing was new for me. I think I could be good at it, but I have shaken it off now and am back to my upbeat self.

Marcia was a great booth buddy and we have already decided to request the same booths next year should we get accepted again (she is in for sure since she was a prize winner for her fabulous leather bound art books). We had a drummer on the other side of us, Paul Namkung and we both were enamored with the steady drum beat, which ranged from wild and uninhibited to more earthy, heart-beat like.

If you had asked me, "would you want to be next to a drummer?" I would have given an unequivocal NO as my answer. But Paul proved me wrong. I loved it!!! Found myself moving (not just to keep warm) to the beat and his drumming created a wonderful energy. He is an amazing guy, living the life you always imagine an artist would live..........a home in a remote area of northern New Mexico. He described it as 8000 feet elevation with crystal clean air and no traffic light for 68 miles in any direction. Ahhhhhh.......

The show turned out great. Nice people, good sales, lovely and thoughtful administration from the staff. I sold an abstract again. That makes 3 out of my past 4 shows. So I am encouraged by that and will continue to put them in my booth along with my collages.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Pollyanna falters

The show is going well. I suppose. It is cold here. As in *very* cold, possibly record breaking? It sure feels that way. It was 49 when we got up. Not the kind of weather you welcome during an outdoor art fair. Especially when the forecast called for 70.

I brought extra clothes, but not really enough. I doubt it hit 60 today which doesn't sound that cold, but it is damp with no sun and that makes it feel even colder than it is. Plus I am just sitting all day long. Except for when I am jumping to try and generate some heat. I had a stupid amount of clothing all layered up and I still could not get warm. Until I made it back to the hotel and took the hottest bath possible. Now I feel partially normal again.

My shoulders still ache something fierce though. All the cold made me shiver and I was doing this hunchback thing that I am sure was terribly attractive not to mention it caused a lot of tension in my neck and shoulder area.

This is the first show I have had where I seriously questioned my sanity for pursuing this lifestyle. I am just so sore and exhausted. I have had good sales and certainly that is pleasing, but I would love nothing more than to be warm and cozy in my own bed with my sweetie and all my kitties curled up around me.

I've heard it may be sunny tomorrow. We could only hope.

Friday, May 05, 2006

To get ahead a girl must always be on the ball

We are here in KC at Brookside Art Annual. The show started last night after a crazy messed up day during which John and I set up our tent TWICE, yes that is two times. It was a ridiculous situations, poor judgment call on both our parts.

Suffice to say I am exhausted. Very very long day yesterday, no decent food to speak of and way too much salt have my eyes looking like they have tiny pillows embedded underneath them.

I need to heed the advice of my own work.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Like I need more energy

I am frequently asked, "how do you get everything done?" This is the socially acceptable way to ask "are you friggin' nuts?" or "you must be on some good drugs" or "hmm, another manic phase?" Because yeah, I do have a lot of energy and I largely credit genetics (a hearty German background) with my crazed energy level and work ethic.

But on many days I have a secret weapon. My own specially concocted energy elixir.......Ingredients as shown in the picture........plain Kefir, unsweetened Triple berry anti-oxidant juice from TJ's, and magic bee potion. I also add a tiny bit of Sweet 'n' Low because of course I don't want to go overboard on the health thing, ha, ha. And sometimes a little soy protein powder.

This bee stuff is great, or at least I think it is. I realize there is a lot of conflicting research on these things and some people may even be allergic to bee products. But I believe it works for me and therein probably lies the success.

I am using a blend of Royal Jelly, Bee propolis, Bee pollen & ginseng. It comes in the powder form shown and I also have a refrigerated version so you can have a quick swig if you don't have time to mix up a drink. I get the powder at Whole Foods and the liquid version is from Wild Oats.

The only downside is it tastes like dirt. So you either need to hold your nose or mix it up with enough stuff to mask the flavor.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

This is me and my 2 brothers. I love the photo and have used it several times in my work. I have no idea what we were looking at. There was a gas station behind our house so I can only imagine.

I am so into the vintage wall paper lately. This swatch was particularly nice; an amazing pattern that reminds me of one my Grandma Hoffman had in her house.

The grass was formed with the "grass" sold in hobby stores for use with train sets and that kind of thing. It is so realistic.

All the new work is finished now. I am exhausted, having done an idiotic amount of work in a very short period of time. Today between varnish, painting sides, doing laundry, packaging greeting cards, and organizing reproductions I also put down backgrounds on 2 dozen more 6x6's. I am pretty excited about some of them as they are a little bit different. And I found some very cool tissue that I can't wait to use. I won't start them till I get back from the show.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

We have a problem with our vacuum

This actually could be said about every single vacuum John and I have owned as a couple. I don't know if he had this same problem with his first wife or not.

See, we have cats. When we first hooked up, I had two, he had two. It was like the Brady Bunch, only with cats and no Alice. We are down to three at the moment, but they have a lot of hair. Which they seem to shed at an extraordinary pace. Which leads me to the vacuum situation. Cause even though we do have cats everywhere, I don't like our house to look like there are cats everywhere. We vacuum frequently, the floor and the furniture. Sometimes the bedspread, something only another cat owner would understand.

Our vacuums seem to crap out after only a couple of years. We buy good ones, but they do.not.last. Period. This prompted us to have wood floors installed in the SF condo. Made it much easier to manage the entire hair thing. Of course we had cleaning help then so like I knew anything about how the cat hair removal worked. But I digress.

When we moved to St. Louis, we bought a decent size house with a lot of carpet. Translation, lots of vacuuming. I wanted a brand new industrial strength vacuum. I did some research as I am wont to do and was drawn to the Dyson vacuums. Mainly I liked the story about James Dyson, the pitch was top notch. It seemed like his vacuum problems were similar to ours. The picture showed an honest looking chap (I think he is British) and I liked how he bucked all vacuum society to come up with his own patented design, a vacuum that will not lose it's suck over time (I think this is something to strive for). Plus the vacuums came in cool colors like yellow and purple. And finally, the pièce de ré of the vacuums was specifically geared toward folks with pets. It was named The Animal.


Fast forward 28 months. It doesn't work anymore. When turned on, it instead makes a very loud screeching sound. The hose is split as in broken. And the thingie ma job won't turn on The Animal attachment.

We took it in to Best Buy for service. Inexplicably, we bought an extended warranty, probably due to the fact we have such poor luck with vacuums. Best Buy kept it for about a week and allegedly fixed it. Got it home, plugged it in and same problem - loud screeching noise, busted hose, etc. There is no evidence they touched it.

John had taken it in the first time so I took it in the 2nd time. This is part of our good cop/bad copy routine. We often switch roles and I got to be the bad cop this time. Not much of a stretch because I was very pissed off at the situation, not to mention the failure to fix it properly.

So I wheeled it over to the service counter and proceeded with my story. The guy stared at me without expression. I told him we needed to get the vacuum fixed again. Quickly. I don't think he got my sense of urgency, probably because he doesn't live in a house with fur covered floors. For emphasis I pointed at the vacuum......."you are looking at a $500 piece of crap right here." And that is when he perked up, realizing he had a nut case on his hands. He promised to "rush" the repairs, 3 days and it would be done.

That was on April 17th. We have talked to Best Buy five times since then but have no defininitive answers. The good cop has resumed handling due to the fact he doesn't want me to stroke out(I am guessing). We have been told they are "waiting on parts."

I know one thing for sure. This vacuum still sucks.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I have a canvas update of sorts.

Fredrix has contacted me regarding my issue with the canvasses. They have a high level of interest in the situation and have told me they will conduct a canvas inspection to see what is going on here. They even contacted me on a weekend. I was very impressed and have great faith they will figure this out and again be my canvas manufacturer of choice.