Monday, October 31, 2005

Whew, another Halloween done....

My husband hates Halloween. Something about organized begging or extortion, I don't get it, but that's his deal. So I skipped Yoga tonite in order to answer the door and hand out candy. And it wasn't bad, truly it wasn't. All appropriately aged children, meaning none of them were taller than me. Some even said thank you. I didn't keep track, but maybe 25% said Trick or Treat and Thank you. I reward the thankful children with extra candy. One child (with his mother) was extremely scary. He had a burlap sack over his head, no eye holes that I could see, (hmmm, maybe this is why he was with his mother, she had to lead him around?) and there was a rope around his neck. It was in very poor taste. Horrible really. The best kid all night was this tiny little boy, 3 or 4 years old perhaps, a short little guy. He was with his Dad and they each had their own umbrella The boy's was Sponge Bob. Anyway, he was dressed like a football player, nothing unusual about that, but he was just so darn cute with his little elfin face and I could tell he was freezing cold in the rain. Simply adorable though. And polite. Those are the children who make it all worthwhile for me. It was a slow night due to the rain so we have pretty much candy left over.......oh darn, I hate it when that happens.

Map Yourself
This is a pretty cool map where you can show your location. So head on over there and let me know where you're from.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

She's cookin' now

No, I'm not cookin' on my art work, I'm still in a little funk there. I did finally work on some smaller pieces though and made progress which felt good. Hopefully the 4th scanner will arrive tomorrow and we can get that installed so I can work on a commission or two.

In the meantime I have been really cooking, as in the kitchen. Not a lot really, just last Sunday and then again today. If I'm not careful, this may turn in to a ritual. You see, I used to cook before John retired and then he kind of took over that duty as I ramped up my artwork. I think it started because he wanted to eat and I sometimes forget all about food when I am working. I also think he wanted to experience some variety with his food, another thing I am bad about. For instance last week I had tomato soup and 1/2 of a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. Every single day.

So anyway, I had promised John I would get back to some cooking after the shows slowed down. Last Sunday I fixed a very large pot of chili which is one of my specialty dishes if I do say so myself. Not that I could tell you how I do it, it's slightly different each time because I sort of throw stuff in until it tastes right, I don't have anything written down. But tonite I used a recipe that was a winner. I got it from The Splendid Table and they apparently excerpted it from The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor by Jerry Traunfeld. This dish is so good I may need the cookbook.

Tarragon Chicken Breasts with Buttered Leeks

4 servings

2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts
2 cups chicken broth
4 T. unsalted butter
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 t. fresh lemon juice
2 T chopped tarragon

Put leeks in a large skillet with chicken broth and 2 T. butter. Cook over medium heat until tender and broth has boiled down so the leeks are no longer completely submerged, about 8 minutes.

Sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place them on top of leeks, spoon some leeks over top, cover the pan tightly. Reduce heat to low and cook until done, probably 10-15 minutes, depends on the size of the breasts. Don't overcook.

When chicken is done, life pieces out. Increase heat and stir in lemon juice , remaining 2 T. butter and tarragon until butter is melted. Salt and pepper if necessary. Pour leek sauce over chicken and serve.

So that's it, very simple really but a lovely blend of flavors. This definitely needs the fresh tarragon and lemon, so don't even think about dried stuff or that fake lemon.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yes, it's true

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination for the Supreme Court.
And Mary Beth Shaw watched 3 hours of QVC last night. The Breast Cancer shoe sale as if the charitable angle somehow validates and excuses me from this complete waste of time. I didn't even buy any shoes.
'Nuff said about that.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

How many scanners can a girl ruin in 30 days?

Well I have crapped out another scanner. In warranty (hooray) this time so Canon is sending us another one. This obviously delays my work as I can't get started on any of the commissions (I have 3 stacked up) without my scanner. Not that I was going to start them anyway but it's as good an excuse as any.

And in other news, I was accepted into Artigras, a Florida show scheduled for February. I should be getting news on some of the other FL shows within the next 10 days and then it's decision time as to whether we are doing it or not. "It" being the FL thing. Artigras is the one I really wanted although I am not sure why since it is not as highly ranked as some of the others. But word of mouth for one thing - other artists seem to think it's a good show. Plus some people who bought my work thought it would be a great venue for me. Plus George Whipple, the patriarch of the Whipple clan told me it is better than Coconut Grove in his opinion, like the new Coconut Grove. I met George at the Plaza show, our booths were back to back and he was a major league sweetie. He has been around the circuit for 35 years and I just feel like George knows what the heck is going on. Plus he brought me chocolate every day during the show which makes him numero uno in my book.

So John and I are both in bad moods, trying to out-bitch each other. I think I am winning, actually I know I am winning. I have had a lot more practice for one thing plus I started earlier today or maybe even last night. That scanner issue, right after I woke up (I was still on my first cup of coffee) did not help. I spent an hour or more working on it till I was frustrated, angry and just generally pissy. John took over and worked on it for 4(!) hours until he became frustrated. He has a much longer fuse that I do, oh what a surprise you might say!?!?! And those of you who know John are simply nodding your heads. He finally talked to Canon and that's when they said they would send a new scanner. I tried to boost my mood by working in the studio a bit and I tore my big closet apart, threw some shit away, reorganized some other shit. Sanded some 6x6's and cut out some images. But I couldn't really work; I just kept staring at the images and had no inspiration whatsoever. I didn't feel funny, I suddenly hated all my images and couldn't think of any remotely amusing commentary about any of them. I hate it when I get like this. Ugh. I finally ended up painting some papers for the Saturday Monday Sale Not sure whether I am going to sell the papers as is or whether I am going to make stuff with them. But it soothes me to paint.

And I feel like knitting tonite. I haven't knit anything for several months, it always seems like a "winter" activity to me. I want to make a purse though, I saw this very cute funky little purse on Carol Duvall the other day and I want to try to make one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

4:05 AM

I have been having trouble sleeping again, so what's new, huh? Anyway, my Dr. gave me some stuff to try, it's not a sleeping pill per se, but something to help your system regulate the sleep cycle, sort of like a ramped up melatonin. I just got some sample pills and first tried it in Chicago where it did NOT work and I was seriously disappointed. But last night I gave it a second chance. I had been to Yoga earlier in the evening and also had some sake with dinner so I was pretty chilled out and very hopeful for a solid night's sleep. Alas, if I hadn't had so much water to drink I would have been good to go.

But, as nature would have it, I had to pee at 4:05 am and got up in a somewhat comatose state, nearly stumbling to the bathroom. Merlin could hardly believe his luck that someone was up so early and he celebrated by tipping over the waste basket. He further couldn't believe his luck when he found a piece of acetate that I had removed from a package of makeup. That cat is such a freak; he loves to chomp on acetate and will nosh on it basically until we take it away from him; he has an obsession that almost rivals bubblewrap popping. In fact, I feel certain that if he had an opposable thumb he would be totally in to bubblewrap.

You know how loud a cat crunching acetate is at 4 am? Really really loud. I feared that even my half deaf husband would hear him, so I jumped up to grab it from him and he ran. Naturally he carried it in his mouth as he ran and hopped up into the middle of the bed, so pleased was he with his prize.........I heard a little moan out of John as I grabbed the acetate out of Merlin's mouth and put it on top of the dresser on top of the TV, a height he could never reach.

And then I fell right back to sleep.

P.S.............The painting was accepted into the show!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Stick a fork in it already

Finally finished the new piece and quickly varnished it so I could enter the Women's Caucus Body and Soul show. I should find out today if I get in or not as they juried yesterday off the live art. Claire thought the piece would make it for sure as she assessed the competition when we dropped off on Saturday. Regrettably she is not on the jury.

Lots of text in this piece which is not that evident as it is intentionally concealed, hidden by writing with the same color as the background or smeared. There is enough showing to get the drift though. It is kind of like a huge journal entry where I obsess about my stomach and my imagined issues with my weight. Ok, I know TMI for some of you. But this is a heartfelt piece and I am so glad I painted it. Not matter what happens regarding the show, this was truly soul work for me.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Constant Gardener

After riding yesterday, (I've just been dying to throw this phrase around, "ah yes, after riding," "when I came in from my ride, dahling".....well you get the idea). And yes, that would be like ON a of my friends had to query me and when I told her I was learning to ride a horse she laughed (she being a person who was born on a horse and takes this for granted) and said, "lessons, what do you mean lessons, you just get on the horse and ride....." Oh well Rhonda, I am a little wussy girl, you know that.

But anyway, after riding yesterday, I took a long shower cause I was freezing my ass off, then piled on a bunch of clothes(still freezing my ass off) and John and I went to lunch and a movie. We saw The Constant Gardener
which was terrific. I would definitely recommend the movie - it is suspenseful and visually stunning yet also gut wrenching in theme and significance. Now I know it's a work of fiction but it had such a grain of truth to it. It has that conspiracy thing going on..... where passionate people are working to get to the truth. I always dig this sort of story-line because I am wired that way too, imagine many things as a conspiracy. And in my imaginary life I am bold and impassioned enough to pursue these matters of the under dog.

Of course in real life I am still just a wussy girl who needs lessons to ride a horse.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Giddy Up

Well it finally happened, I got to ride a horse today. I have had this little half baked dream for years now, that some day I would finally learn to ride a horse. The dream has been half baked because I haven't had the money to really get into it like I would want. But luckily I now have a generous friend who has horses. Yeesh it couldn't get any better than this unless he also had a boat. So anyway, our friend Bud made an offer I simply couldn't put me up on a horse. The pics did not come out well, some setting on the camera must have been screwed up or something but here I am, looking pretty decent with my form if I do say so myself although perhaps a little too tight with the reigns in this shot. It was hard to get the right amount of tension without overdoing it and yeah, I have this teeny weeny little tendency to over analyze. But anyway, Bud was patient with me and he is quite the horse guy, lordy I had no idea! Ribbons and such. He has Paso Fino horses and I was riding Rosie, a horse he bought for his grandchildren which I took to mean she was gentle and would be nice to me. I know I shouldn't anthropomorphize the animals, but what can I say, I am not really anthropomorphizing........I truly believe animals are just as human as we are. There are many animals I like more than people. Let's just say that by the end of the lesson I think Rosie and I had bonded a wee bit. She seemed a little more relaxed, not so wary and I know I was better! Honestly I didn't feel too nervous, it was just so new to me and I didn't want to mess up, that type A thing kicking in. Bud is a great teacher though and I loved it!!! Terrific fun in spite of the sudden cold snap in the weather and the misting rain. I look forward to heading out on a trail ride some day soon.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I got more than I could ax for the words of Buddy Guy.

My morning walk was late, almost eleven before I got my butt in gear. I listened to this psychotic mix of Gipsy Kings, French rock classics, David Gray and Buddy Guy and wow did it get me going.

I am in a bit of a mania or I am twirling as Claire would say and I like that analogy because it seems so accurate. The very best thing about being like this is the heightened senses, my eyes, my ears, my hands, my tastebuds......they have all blurred together. It's as if I can feel and hear the colors, taste and touch the sounds. I feel surrounded by beauty from the alizarin crimson of the changing tree leaves(probably the poison ivy which always turns into a stunning yet dangerous color) to the crunch of acorns on the sidewalk. Yesterday when I was working on my painting I became so mesmerized by the various blues I used in the upper part of the painting. I was sitting on my tarp, legs stretched in front of me and working extremely wet, using a spray bottle of water in one hand and a hair dryer in the other, directing the flow of paint as I had the canvas propped up against my feet as an easel. I was a total mess afterwards as your might imagine. My bare feet were stained with various hues.

But I digress.

The commission meeting went very well. It is a go! And I am so excited because this is the largest project I have done and it will take me months to complete. I am thrilled to have this opportunity; it feels so special to be chosen for the job of memorializing 5 generations of a family in a painting of this size, 6ft x 4 ft. I may or may not be able to do the FL Art Fair season (assuming I even get in to any of those shows) depending on how this work progresses. We will see.

I am incredibly busy all of a sudden, I can't imagine how I thought I was going to have "down" time after the shows ended. What the heck was I thinking!!?!??! Anyway, next week I hang a show at Fleishman-Hillard, 10-20 pieces. Then the following week I pull down the show that is at Washington Press. On December 7th I hang a solo show at Subterranean Books Gallery, opening to be December 9th. On Dec. 3rd I have a small art fair I am doing. And I entered another one for Dec. 10-11 but I haven't heard whether I am accepted to that one or not. Plus I thought I would deliver entry for jurying in the Women's Caucus Body and Soul show. This being largely dependent on whether I can manage to finish this new painting in time. I have some final work to do on it today and should just head downstairs and do it already.

Good thing I am twirling.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wish me Luck

I have been working on this collage painting or at least I'm thinking about working on it. I have really been working on a quote I am doing for this really big would-be commission. I am so nuts that I came up with too many ideas. I went so far as to do mock ups (that would be maquette per my friend Karyl who knows these things) of a few of them and that helped me to hone in on the best ones. Then I drew up some plans since the maquettes just show process and technique more than anything else. Then I obsessed about the whole thing for a couple of days. And then I stayed up late obsessing more. Cause I'm excited you know, I would really like to do this thing. I finally narrowed down to the cream of the crop and wrote a cohesive proposal which I will present to the potential client tonite. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 17, 2005

New Scam that made me laugh



Saturday, October 15, 2005

What a bargain

Today's experience at the Belleville Flea Market reminded me that I need to carry my camera more often. So I apologize for no visual here. The best sign of the day........hand written on a white paper plate......

"Sack of balls $5"

Scenes from Chicago

Norma didn't seem to enjoy the boat tour as much as her companions.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wishful thinking?

Claire......need I say more.......

That is my new best friend Joshua in the green striped sweater by the way. This picture was taken before I had even met him at the fantastic City Soles shoe store in Wicker Park. Claire made a new friend too. While I was chatting up Joshua (or vice versa) she was chatting up Rose. All I can say for sure is the retailers in Chicagoland are very friendly.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dead Can Dance

Wow, what a concert. Here's the site if anyway wants to check out out. It was fabulous, I swear portions of it were nearly a religious experience. Of course I got a t-shirt, the long sleeve model which is nice and skinny. Afterwards we had a cab ride with a driver who must have recently transferred from NY, yeesh, it was kind of hilarious really as we absolutely flew through the streets in record time. But he delivered us to the House of Blues where we heard some good music and had a light bite. We are staying at the House of Blues Hotel which is pretty cool; very kitschy artsy decor punctuated with a ton of outsider art that I hope is really what it appears and not mass produced like those horses in front of all the PF Changs.

Lots of shopping yesterday and I went to the Jeans store I used to frequent in SF which specializes in imports and lesser known brands. I tried on about 10 pairs and finally made a selection of Red Engine which I don't think is an import but it's a new brand for me and most importantly, these jeans were designed for my body. They are simply perfect, cashmere soft and faded in all the right places. Naturally I need to have a good portion cut off so I will have them hemmed once I get home.

Got a call from my commission client who received her package yesterday with the two pieces in it. She called to express her delight at my work (oh what a way to start the day!!!) and said they will be unveiled this weekend at a party for her husband. also said she would be calling me that sounds good.

Claire and I are off for more shopping today I think. There is a store with all kinds of funky sneakers........

Monday, October 10, 2005

New Work

This is my latest piece. As you can see, Merlin is assisting and I have my favorite tools right at hand - a torch, spray bottle, hair dryer and sand paper. I guess I am just a trifle destructive in my process. The piece has actually changed a lot since John took the picture this morning. I am not sure where it will end up. I had a plan but it seems to be a moving target. I have changed the legs quite a bit and the boobs are also different, a little smaller and more integrated. I've done a lot more collage and painted some contours. She has hair now too, all vintage wallpaper flowers which looks pretty cool. I have to take a break though for a few days but hopefully I will get back to this one by the weekend. And perhaps I will show stages as it progresses.......if I can remember to do it. Obviously I will also show it in color at some point as well.

And in the meantime I am heading up to Chicago tomorrow for a concert with my friend Claire. We are seeing the group Dead Can Dance on Wednesday night and I am sure it will be a lot of fun. Not to mention the shopping and museum stuff we have planned. Girls just havin' fun. Can't wait. More on that later!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Shall we dance?

It's my anniversary, actually tomorrow is, 12 years to be exact although I honestly thought it was 13 years until my husband set me straight a few days ago. Yeesh, how embarrassing is that!??! I am horrible with dates but I don't know how I lost an entire year. We had decided to stay at home because it seems we go out too much lately and it was the perfect celebration - some fresh lobsters which John cooked up for dinner along with corn on the cob and sourdough bread and peach cobbler which I baked (!). I also surprised John with a bottle of 12 year aged single malt scotch. Which we enjoyed with appetizers. Then champagne with dinner.

When I was picking the scotch, I noticed it comes in a variety of ages, there is 10 year, 12 year, 15 year, 18 year, 20 year and so on. So I thought this was a great commemorative thing, get a bottle of special scotch for each appropriate year. I mentioned that to John and he thought it was a bribe. I prefer to call it an incentive bonus.

Anyway, we had a lovely evening, just us and the cats. Earlier in the night I had this hair brained idea that we should put a litter box in the dining room exactly in the spot where the unknown feline(is it Gil, is it Izzy, is it Merlin?) has been shitting. So I carried the studio litter box up there around 8 or so. And now, less than 3 hours later, there is already shit in the box. Hmmm. Now what's up with that!??!

After dinner we watched the movie Shall we Dance. I have been wanting to see it. First of all because I love Richard Gere - maybe because my husband reminds me of Richard Gere. And then because I have this little hidden desire to dance. And believe me, I have 2 left feet, any dancing I am doing is either in my head or in private. Just ask John. But I really want to take dance lessons, to be light on my feet, to be flying through the air, soaring to the music. Oh I would just love that. And if I weren't such a control freak it might even happen......I have this teeny tiny little problem with the whole issue of who takes a strong man to endure anyway, we watched the movie and who knows where we will go from here. In my heart I think I could dance. Reality may be another story. I know John could dance, shit he already does, I am the impediment here.

So, no matter whether we dance together or not, it has been a great 12 years and I am one lucky girl. Thanks baby.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Am I on vacation yet?

No of course not. I am playing catch up with all the stuff I have been neglecting while I was doing the shows. And then I had a couple of commissions to finish this week so that meant I couldn't really relax yet. Then of course I heard about some holiday shows so I sent in entries which means if I get in I will obviously have to create some more work.

So no slacking for MB. My friend Michelle says to me, "promise me you will take 7 days of vacation before the end of the year." And I said, "7 consecutive days?" I mean seriously, I don't know if I can take 7 days off. I love what I do for one thing, why would I want 7 days off from it? But Michelle, I know you are reading honey, and I know what you mean. I do need a break. And I will take one. I promise. But first I've got to get some work done.

I did finish the commissions today and Hallelujah for that. A different more neutral color palette but that is what was requested and I was pleased with the result. It was good to finish them and I will feel even better once they are shipped.

And I got rejected from a show this week. The Paper show at the Foundry. Bummer, I wanted to be part of it well duh, I use paper, of course I resonated with the theme. Maybe I use too much paint? Who knows? I haven't gotten a rejection for awhile though and it felt a little weird. But that's ok, just one juror's opinion. Not like 2002 when I got rejected from every single show I entered. That seemed like consensus from a bunch of jurors and it got old really fast.

I have been on an antibiotic, 2 of them actually (don't ask) and now I have a rash. Good grief, what a pain. It is pretty much all over my body, little tiny red dots that itch like a bastard. Called my Dr. and she suggested I take Benadryl. Well you know I need to generally stay awake during the day so that wasn't real handy for me. But I eventually got too itchy and took a pill around 1-ish. About an hour later I was overwhelmingly tired. I couldn't stay awake for anything. So I called for a cat (Merlin obliged) and took a nap in the sun. For like ALL afternoon. I could NOT wake up, I was comatose. Merlin was cozy in my arms and we just lay on the couch for hours. I finally got up around 4:30 and took a shower but was a zombie until dinner time. Now I have kicked back into gear and will probably be up all night.

Before I passed out though I started a new canvas. I have this crazy idea, totally out of my usual theme. In fact, it is more figurative in nature. I am pretty excited about the concept so we will see where this goes. I am hoping to work on it more tomorrow. Or perhaps tonite if I can't sleep.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Nothing like some new shoes

to get me running again.....

I have really gotten out of my regular exercise habit. The shows, for one thing, have just killed me. Seems like I was hitting the studio early every day and skipping my workout. Plus I had that hip thing going on. Plus my shoes were trashed. I could go on and on.

But there is nothing that will motivate me like a new pair of shoes. Especially when they are this cute! I mean look at these things.......I believe they might even glow in the dark! And they are so totally comfy, little moon boot cusions for my feet...........ok, gotta go hit the road now. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 03, 2005

Nah - Mah - Stay

For the last 4 Mondays I have missed Yoga - various reasons.......I was sick, we were out of town, just getting back in to town, it was a holiday or some such nonsense. I have been muddling along doing Yoga on my own but it simply isn't the same. So it felt absolutely wonderful to return to my favorite class tonight. Rhonda leads such a rigorous workout I was pleased I could keep up. By the time we got to Savasana, I know I was good and ready.

Savasana is corpse pose, otherwise known as total relaxation, and it is done at the end of our Yoga practice. I think probably all Yoga students love Savasana more than any other pose or at least I do. The opportunity to go into such a deep pose, which completely quiets the mind and body is of vital importance to the overall practice. Plus it feels soooo good.

So we were just beginning when I heard a woman (a Yoga student arriving early for the next class) outside the open window right above my head. She was talking on her cell phone and had a rather distinctive (grating, annoying, piercing) voice. She was going on and on, blah dee blah, laughing, blah, blah, etc., quite loud really. I was trying as hard as I could to focus on the relaxation at hand and ignore her but it was so hard. I was having all sorts of un-Yoga-like thoughts such as jumping up and yelling "shut the fuck up" out the window. I did manage to control myself though until she ended her conversation with "nah-mah-stay." Said in her grating annoying twang of a voice. Three times to be exact since the person on the other end of the phone was apparently not schooled in Yoga. So then she explained, "oh it's a Yoga thing."

Literal translation of Namaste is "I bow to you." It is a gesture acknowledging the divine in each of us, kind of like souls bowing to one another.

Um yeah, something like that....I was having such inappropriate thoughts I probably need to spend a little more time with the concept.......

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Mary Beth "Whatever the name of the show is"

I am at the Historic Shaw Art Fair this weekend. It has been an amazing show so far, simply gorgeous weather for one thing plus I am selling a lot of work including one of my very B-I-G pieces that sold ten minutes after 5 today which was pretty cool and thank goodness we had the bubble wrap!

Anyway, the best comment of the day.........this guy walks in, takes a look at my name sign which clearly says, Mary Beth Shaw and remarks dryly, so, you are Mary Beth "whatever the name of the show is?" I laughed out loud and said, yeah, like last week I was Mary Beth Plaza. In May I was Mary Beth Laumeier, etc. He cracked up everyone in the booth. And so the day went, fun all around; everyone was in such a good mood. It is a nice way to end a wonderful season.