Thursday, March 30, 2006

My new purse arrived today. I have been looking for one for awhile. I specifically wanted something practical, semi-small (yet it had to hold all my crap), plus with a long strap so I could wear across my chest to save my neck and shoulder.

Marian has a stable of these Kiplings and swears by them. They are water repellent (!), super light weight and very durable.

PLUS they come with a monkey, how great is that!?!?!?

I ran into John's office:

"Honey, my new purse is here!!!"


"Look, it has a monkey!!!"


"And my monkey has a name, " I paused to read the tag. "His name is John."

"I knew that."

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Crowning Glory

This is the piece that St. Louis Magazine chose to illustrate the article on Venus Envy.

Page 28. A really nice size image. Get a magnifying glass and if you look really close you can almost see my name. Seriously, I am thrilled. The colors look super and it was quite a rush to see. This one was actually one of last year's pieces and it sold during the event.

Yes, that is really a vintage hair net on the left side along with a vintage hair roller below her feet.

The magazine also named the event the #1 thing to do in St. Louis in April. WOW is that ever way cool!!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I too enjoy my work

Just not today. I was really crabby. And mean. And unable to do art because I felt smothered. It started in the office where I sort of imploded with all the crap that surrounded me.

So I went on a cleaning rampage. Simply tore the office apart and totally re-organized. It took hours but I felt so much better afterwards. John knew I was fried and he pretty much steered clear of me except when he stuck his head in to discuss possible organization ideas.

Cause here's my theory. I only allow things to get really messy when I don't know where to go with all the stuff. Things that don't have a home, applications I need to consider, requests for donations, pending correspondence, contracts for shows, emails I have printed........all kinds of stuff. If I have a place to store it I will. If I don't I end up with terrible piles. And I hate having to go through an entire pile or multiple miles to find that one application I fear might be due.

We have tried several different systems and none felt right to me. But today John got me this nifty desktop sorting thing. It has sections where things can stand upright so NO PILES. I already put folders in it and labeled each one. He got one for himself too. I am very hopeful it is going to work as it already inspired me to complete 3 show entries this afternoon.

Then tonight our friend Jeff came over to color calibrate our fancy schmancy new printer. The printer I insanely bought thinking I could make my own repros. The printer that takes 9 different archival inks. The printer that has been gathering dust for 3 months because we can't figure out how to make consistent prints that actually match the art.

Well, 2 hours later and we are good to go. We have several absolutely PERFECT reproductions and our monitor is calibrated. John knows how to operate the printer and how to get these results over and over.

Jeff is a genius. No seriously, he probably is.

And my bank account shows that Madison cashed my booth check. Which means I have been accepted into the show. Woo hoo I can't wait as I love that town.

Whew, my day suddenly improved.

Horoscope for: Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Mary Beth,You may be feeling less comfortable as you confront what you must do over the days ahead. It was easier when these coming changes were just a fantasy, for you can be complacent until you need to put your ideas into motion. It's show time, Cancer, so move past your insecurities and prepare to be in the spotlight.

Well this is clearly about Venus Envy. Showtime meaning I need to MAKE the art.


I have been working here and there. Yesterday I got a couple little ones finished. I had started them over the weekend. It is slow going though and I am not in a groove and can't really figure out why. I reviewed my inventory and selected some suitable pieces that will be just fine with this theme so I have things to fall back on. I wanted a lot of newer things too. Especially some more 20x20's and I have already prepped the backgrounds for 2 of them but can't seem to move forward.

And whether its for VE or other shows, I need more inventory. I have a lot of upcoming shows. I mean A LOT. Have you seen my calendar lately?

Bottom line, I need to make the work one way or another. So my muse should be kicking into gear any second now.

On other fronts, I forgot to mention the single best thing from Grape Arts on Sunday,,,,,,,,,,bacon candy.........yep, they have finally done it, made bacon taste better than it already does. Carmelized into crispy candies. Oh my goodness, with that sweet/salty/crunchy thing goin' on I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. We have one of those torches, like for Creme Brulee (which we have never made) and I think I'm going to try it.

And finally, my beef for the day.


What gives with you turkeys????? I have tried to be patient and, well, except for that one screamin' email last week I think I have. When my blog was GONE and people were writing to me about it......all the times I can't post a photo when I want to(like now)........fiddling with just the general goofiness and tempermental operations of Blogger. I can be forgiving and have been. What, with your parent Google(yes, I am addicted) I have cut you guys some slack. But you need to get it together. Enough is enough.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Yesterday was Grape Arts, the yearly fundraiser for Art Saint Louis. It is always a good time, I mean what's not to like about very free flowing wine, great art, fun folks. I ran in to a lot of people I hadn't seen for awhile and it felt good to see and be seen.

I was feeling very frisky (yeah, so what's new) and wore my sailor pants. They are the real deal, vintage wool sailor pants that fit me like a dream with a high lace up the back waist and fabulous palazzo trouser legs. They are incredible when worn with high heels and I doubt the Navy had any idea what fashion they were creating. I always wonder about the petite sailor, C.G. Proulx (per the pocket) who wore these before me. And whether it also took him forever undoing the 13 symbolic buttons to go to the bathroom.

I bid on a bunch of different artwork but unfortunately didn't win anything. I was stupidly trying to be polite and aggressive in my bidding which is a big disconnect. Especially the one piece that I reallyreallyreally wanted. Clearly it wasn't going to happen as my opponent was a woman nearly perched on top of the bidding form. She looked fierce and I knew I would not prevail although I did force her to increase her bid several times.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I have an obsession.

Not what you might expect....... I can't get enough of the new stamps, the Post Office's series of favorite children's book animals.........oh my gosh, they are simply amazing. From the Very Hungry Caterpillar to Curious George to Maisy, Wild Thing and Fox in Socks. I remember some of the animals from my own childhood, some from my brother's.

I love these stamps.

I was working on apps today - to more art fairs, the Fall season if you can imagine. And I took a certain delight in selecting a special stamp to carry my application on its journey. The Peoria Fine Art Fair will be escorted by Frederick the mouse. The return (self addressed) guided by Olivia the pig.

You get the drift. These stamps are the best. They give me an inordinate amount of pleasure. I think I will have to buy more of them.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Prettiest Spam I've ever seen

To a font junkie like me, this looks really cool. It is junk email received at my website, mixed in with all the penis enlargement and re-financing offers.

You have to wonder at the purpose????





Thursday, March 23, 2006

The commission is finished and it took a little car trip over to see my photographer friend Greg yesterday. He is terrific, makes my work look amazing and I credit him with getting me into shows, the quality of his photography rocks.

Prior to the photo session, the canvas had to be wired. Naturally I called on John for that task. He asked me to help him by stabilizing the canvas while he made the holes. I am sure it was also helpful that I second guessed him every step of the way, from his hardware selection to wire choice. I was playing total control freak as he worked on the piece.

After it was wired I wanted to see how it hung on the wall, just make sure the balance was good. Even though we have done this like a million times before, never with a canvas quite this large. So he put some nails into the wall and we popped it up there. "Popped" being a total exaggeration as we carefully maneuvered it through the maze that is called my studio to find a spot of open wall behind a door. Not ideal but it worked.

And the canvas did not hug the wall as it should. It was actually sort of airborne if you can imagine that. I was initially calm, questioning the hardware again but John pointed out there was no way this was a hardware issue. We were both puzzled until we took it off the wall and realized the center stabilizing bar across the back of the piece was warped. Totally warped as in it bowed out so far it was actually touching the wall which prevented the canvas from snugging up as it should.

I thought I was going to have a stroke. I didn't take a breath for the longest time. Just waited for some divine intervention I suppose. John talked first, said it was really ok, he didn't think it would be a problem as you couldn't tell if you viewed it head-on. Which was true, however that was not the point.

Once I started to breathe my first reaction was one of anger toward Dick Blick. I mean how could they have sold an expensive canvas - the highest quality they make - with a friggin' warped hunk of wood!??!?! It must have certainly come that way as I do not think I caused the warping. I kept this canvas totally dry, no shower time at all. And this was big time warping, not just a little bit. Which made me also angry at myself that I didn't notice it before. How could I have NOT seen this!?!??!

So the anger turned to tears. The hysterical variety where I was heaving and crying, crying and heaving with snot running down my face. Very ugly. But I am just a little bit passionate about my art and this was "my baby" after all. John patiently waited for me to chill.

Once I calmed myself we talked about possible solutions. I finally decided I did not want to keep this bar of wood. I wanted the warped piece totally gone. John said he thought he could remove it and then buy a new piece of higher quality wood and replace it using metal L-shaped brackets. He assured me it would be better and stronger.

He intelligently asked me to leave the room while he was working. I stayed upstairs and did a phone session with my coach. At one point I saw John leave in the truck and I was dying to know what was going on. I tried to do some breathing. I talked to myself and said a prayer. I told God that I had complete faith in John.

Because JOHN IS GOOD. The BEST!!! He fixed it and it is perfect. He was right in that it is better and stronger than before. It hangs beautifully, snug against the wall as it should.

I am feeling a little "spent." The entire experience just wiped me out. I need to get moving on the next project, start creating for Venus Envy. But I am moving through sludge, slowly varnishing, painting canvas sides, busying myself with brainless work. I have faith this too shall pass. It always does.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

My stepdaughter plays Hocky with men. She's the only woman. And she kicks butt.

Now I don't know a damn thing about hockey, but she is clearly in a position of defense and it seemed to me she was responsible for a certain part of the ice, near the goalie. Even though she is half the size of most the men, she covers her territory and any encroachers with zeal. She is quietly aggressive within the rules of the sport. She is fast and gets the job done.

Last night her team played a team from a higher division. The opposing team was one that Beth knew as she had once been a member when they were in the lower division. During her maternity leave, they jumped up to the higher level and encouraged her to find a new team once she was back on the ice. Well you know Beth had a mission last night. And it worked as her new team beat them 4-1. Woo hoo.

We went with Frank and the grandkids. The kids rarely if ever get to see either of their parents play since the ice time for adults is horrible, like games are at 10:30 pm usually, well after bedtime. This was a 7 pm game and we took advantage of it so the boys could see their mom.

Aidan, nearly age 4 now, understands a little bit of the game. He gets the team concept, understood his mom was playing, knows all about goals. Ian is another story. He is 21 months and has no clue but will follow the action on the ice from time to time. When he is not climbing up and down all the bleacher steps that is.

We got to the rink a few minutes before the game and Beth came out to say hello. My beautiful and lean step daughter; she was suited up. With all the padding, her face mask and skates, she seemed so much bigger and even I didn't recognize her. Ian's reaction was hilarious. He stared at her as she started talking to him and gave a cautious smile when he recognized her voice. She raised her mask so he could see it was really her inside and his smile widened but you could tell he still wasn't sure. It was the cutest darn thing. Aidan, truly the big boy, was clearly thrilled by his mom's celebrity status. That and the Zamboni machine.

It was a fun night and this is why we moved back here. To be with Beth and her family and watch these little boys grow up. We wanted to really be part of their lives, not just visiting grandparents who come in to town from time to time and spend a few days with them. We wanted the full experience. And I will say.....picking those kids up at their daycare reinforces what it's all about. Witnessing the uninhibited looks of delight and love when they see Papa and Yia Yia and come running into our arms. Such a rush. There is nothing better.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Human Artefakts

Forgot to mention I am in an online show. Yeah, in the middle of all the stuff I've got going on I created 2 new pieces in response to the theme Human Artefakts. My friend Deb apparently put in a good word for me (I whimpered and whined about missing the entries for this show) and the organizers asked if I wanted to participate. So I couldn't say no. The work is oh so fine and I am happy to be part of this group.

So, check it out:
My friend Heather is really smart. I'm not sure she even realizes how much she has helped me. On more than one occasion in fact.

Like the time I had this failed abstract, a 30x40, sitting in my studio. I just didn't know what to do with it. I had painted so much, layer after layer, that I couldn't even look at it anymore. I was out of answers. Heather took one glance and said, "why don't you use it as a background for one of your collages."


Wow, what an idea. I thought about it for a few days and realized the brilliance of her remark. And here is what I did:

I turned the 30x40 abstract into a 30x40 collage which I call Cast of Characters. It is sort of a compilation piece of many of my collages. I think of it as a painting where some characters from my collages simply walked onto the canvas. Which is kind of what happened if you think about it. I made that piece about a year ago and it has become my signature illustration of what I can do in the way of custom work and has been an amazing publicity tool for my business.

And then a couple of weeks ago after I had done the background for the big commission. I was suddenly stuck and afraid to paint. I called Heather because that's what we do when we are stuck, we artists; we call each other up on the phone. For me, I turn to either Rhonda or Heather.

Anyway I was whining to Heather, telling her about my block. She used to paint murals and said this happened to her all the time. She said, "give yourself permission to make a mistake."

Blink Blink.

Of course, now why didn't I think of that. Clearly, I was going to make a mistake during this piece. I mean it's friggin' huge. There is no way I would get through the entire thing without incident. And what is a mistake anyway but an opportunity? And I do mean that because I have discovered some of my very favorite techniques while managing my way through a mistake. That doesn't mean I like making mistakes, just that I accept them and learn from them.

So, voila. I couldn't get off the phone quick enough and hope Heather didn't find me rude. I had painting to do, my fingers were itching for a brush. And I gave myself permission to make a mistake.

If you would like to take a look at Heather's website, here's a link:

Friday, March 17, 2006

Probably not an April Fool's joke

Whew.........I got accepted into Venus Envy. Rhonda got in too. We are both thrilled. But with excitement comes panic.......we were talking today, yucking it up when it hit both of us at the same time......hmmm......this means we now have to actually create the work we proposed.


I had to read my proposal to refresh my memory:

I create mixed media collage paintings using forgotten and discarded photographs, maps, vintage ephemera such as diet books and other paper documents obtained at flea markets and estate sales. The material becomes inspiration for a new piece of art- a layered story merging past and present. I often add a written “caption” for the viewer to contemplate - a phrase from my collection of vintage materials, something remembered from my childhood, or perhaps my own personal commentary. I have found that it doesn’t matter who is pictured or the era involved, we all have more similarities than differences, hence my series is called “Common Denominator.”

For Venus Envy, I will expand on this body of work with a focus solely involving women – themes involving mother/daughter; siblings; body image; relationships; pregnancy; menopause. Wherever the muse may carry me. Although some pieces have previously been completed, it is my intent to offer mainly new work for this event.

I am proposing a grouping of 19 pieces, ranging in size from 6x6 to 24x48. The work will be done on gallery stretched canvasses and hung in a grid configuration per the illustration.

The landscape body is done and available but the others have sold. I don't know if I have any other existing works that address my theme. I'll have to check my inventory tomorrow.

Good thing I'm about finished with the commission cause I suddenly have a lot to do. Delivery is April 1st.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Keeping my fingers crossed

I am waiting on jurying for a show.......Venus Envy to be exact.
I've been in it the past 2 years and it is a ton of fun. There are pictures on the website that will give you a hint as to what it's like. If you click on 2005 St. Louis event photos, you can see my stuff under the ones taken by Kristi Foster. This thing is a blow out 2 day party that just happens to have art hanging around. The crowd is huge and diverse and even more important, they GET my art. The past 2 years I've done a group of pieces specifically related to women. Work that is edgier than my usual stuff. I find it a very exhilarating experience and really want to get accepted again.

The entry is a little different than most in that you have to write a proposal and send a diagram of your "installation." You also include some photos (jpgs or slides) of your art. And the Judges pick whatever they feel is consistent with the mission of VE.

We were supposed to find out 3/15 whether we are in or at least it was going to mailed that day(ok, yeah, I realize it's just the 16th). But nothing yet. I am obsessively checking email hoping we might be notified online because I think they did it that way last year. I am also stalking my snailmailbox. Rhonda(who I met at VE the first year and we have become best buddies) and I trade calls every day, at least once if not more. Still nothing. Ugh I hate this part.

I got a call from the Director a few weeks ago. She wanted me to email her a high quality jpg of one of my images from last year. Apparently St. Louis magazine is going to use one of my shots in the April issue. That sounded promising but when I queried as to whether I am in the show or not, she was coy. Basically she wouldn't say because I guess it is up to the jurors.

In between my obsessive behavior I managed to finish all the gluing on the commission. Woo hoo for that. I have lots of integrative painting to do to blend the background and foreground so it looks seamless. This is where my tissue paper will come it as I have printed some tissues that are duplicates of old documents and letters owned by my client. They are very cool and I can't wait to use them.

We also took Merlyn to the vet today; both John and I went. Had a scare regarding a lump near his throat. Our vet thinks it's a swollen lymph node but gave him some sort of shot and we are supposed to "keep an eye on it." Hopefully all will be ok. We are slightly over reactive with that animal, or perhaps I should say I am. John is too, he is just more internal with it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Only in St. Louis

Would you find Pecan Pie as a choice at a salad bar. No joke. And the worst took every ounce of my control to not take a tiny little piece.

I was looking at my friend Brenda yesterday. She is in terrific physical condition due to a disciplined eating and workout plan. That is how we met in fact. We went to Pilates at the same place until I was insulted one too many times by the neo-Nazi trainer. All right, maybe that was harsh(in that she wasn't a Nazi), but I always left each session feeling bad about myself and it just wasn't good for my morale.

Like me, Brenda is off exercise at the moment although she has a pretty good excuse. She recently had hellatious foot surgery to correct a hammertoe (I don't even know what that is but it sounds awful) and bunion. Plus the bone holding her big toe was moved; she has a pin sticking out one of her toes which is kind of horrifying to me.

She still looks wonderful, extremely lean as in you can see her muscles lean, and she is CUT. And sometimes I feel regret because I used to look more like that although never quite so lean because I am still a curvy girl even when I am at my thinnest. These days I have fallen off the wagon - like I eat Girl Scout cookies for breakfast and consider running the vacuum exercise.

Talking with Brenda reminds me why I used to go to a trainer. Because I have absolutely no willpower of my own. I literally had to pay someone to stand there and make me work out. And weigh me and take my measurements and calculate my percentage of fat. Naturally it worked. Duh.

I walked outside a few times last week and then did a couple walk/jog sessions on the treadmill. I need to keep at it to build these habits back into my routine. I'm headed to our workout area (that would be the basement) again today. I think I will lift some weights too.

I especially liked the way I felt when I was working out. And I would like to regain that.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Thoughts for the day

1. Since John has been sick I've been cleaning the litter boxes every day. There are two of them in the laundry room. All the pee is in one and the poop in the other. How exactly did three cats get together and agree on that!?!?!?

2. I went to visit a friend today who had just had surgery. I made a pan of lasagna for her family and also carried lunch in so we could eat together and catch up a bit. She is wheelchair bound for perhaps another week. Anyway, I was driving over to her house and saw the welcome sign that just cracks me up every time.
"Welcome to Town and Country-Wildlife Corridor"
Huh? Tennis moms in their whites? Thoroughbred horses?
Oh, I guess they must mean the deer.

3. My client came over tonight to "preview" the big commission. And she likes it, woo hoo, how cool is that!?!? So time to get back to work. I can probably finish in the next couple of weeks. I will have my photographer shoot some pics and will post them once it's done.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I need to paint 5-7 new 30x40's for the gallery show I am doing later this year. A few days ago I placed an order with Dick Blick and was thrilled to find they are clearing out the old "Art Store" canvasses. That is the store that was 2 blocks from my condo in SF(recently acquired by Blick)and I know those canvasses well, in fact I prefer them! I was nearly out of so many paint colors that I ordered a ton of stuff in addition to the canvasses and I easily topped the $300 minimum for free shipping.

So, in normal Blick fashion, this monstrous order arrived on my porch less than 48 hours later. How Blick does that I simply do not know. They are so fast. Plus they almost always have everything in stock. As an art store should but you would be surprised how often other stores are out of very pertinent items. Like gel medium or gesso. In fact I have stopped ordering from ASW totally. Sure they have good prices, but they are always out of at least one or two items that I need. And they do not ship them later, if they're out that's it. You just don't get it. And I don't get that.

I unpacked the boxes yesterday and stacked all the 30x40's around the room to look at them. And they seemed so SMALL to me. Seriously. As in I actually measured them to make sure they were 30x40's. Which they are.

Hmmmm, working on this commission has messed me up. In a good way though. Lucky I have 3 more of those really huge canvasses. Because I am itching to do another large piece. And I don't mean a 30x40.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

First time for everything

Aaack, I've been tagged by Deb Trotter.

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was 35, living in St. Louis the 1st time. I relocated here in 1993 (from Cincinnati) to marry John (yes, 3rd time is indeed a charm). We were both in the insurance biz and were golfers. Seems like a million years ago.

What were you doing 1 year ago? We had been back in St. Louis for a year and a half at that point. My life as an artist had taken off in ways I could never have imagined. Grandkids were close by. Many new friends. Life was good, just as it is now.

Five snacks you enjoy:
Oh no, this is going to be hard as I love snacks.
Wasabi Broad Beans (crispy), not the peas, has to be the beans and they are impossible to find. Thanks Claire and Marian for getting me hooked on these. Kettle chips, the lightly salted ones. Kettle Korn at the art fairs. Nuts, pretty much any kind but raw cashews are a fave. Chocolate, dark Dove pieces, Snickers when they are shaped like Eggs, same with Reese's, prefer them shaped like an egg, something about the chocolate to filling ratio is better. Brownies made by my friend Debbie. Large Lattes with nutmeg on top.
That was more than five wasn't it?

Five songs to which you KNOW all the lyrics: Queen-Bohemian Rhapsody, I try to sing all the parts. It isn't pretty. Don McClean-American Pie. Jackson Browne-The Load Out. I really relate to this one since we've been doing the art fairs. Meatloaf-Paradise by the Dashboard Light. All right, I know that wasn't five, but I do see a trend there.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
Ok, first I'm assuming multi-millionaire here as in BIG money.
The first thing I would do is rent this house in Jenner, CA, the one that is located at the estuary where the Russian River meets the Pacific ocean. We rented it years ago and it was simply stunning perched on the edge of the land with nothing anywhere around. You can sit in the hot tub and watch the seals out on the rocks. Amazing views from each room, it is so inspiring and serene. Anyway, John and I would go out there for awhile and chill then he would leave and I would invite all my CA girlfriends who I miss so much. We would have a girl's weekend doing art, hiking, all the things we love. I imagine that if money was no object we would have a similar life to what we have now but I probably wouldn't do as many shows. I would limit myself to a couple big ones and would take some workshops. We would travel more for FUN and immerse ourselves into life in new places. I don't think I would want to own another home but would rent places so I could explore certain areas in depth. Rent a villa in Tuscany for a season; try the coast of Spain; San Miguel de Allende. I want to hike the Grand Canyon out of the Havasupai Indian Reservation and see Havasu Falls. I would invite friends and family to join us for some of our travels. I am sure St. Louis would still be our "base" city but we would find a different home, more contemporary with large open spaces and better privacy than our current suburban location. I would also give Beth & Frank money so they could get a new home and have financial freedom. Probably a condo for my Mom and Dad. College funds for my nieces and nephews. We would hire domestic help again - we've had cleaning and gardening help in the past and I miss that.

Five bad habits:
-eating when I'm not hungry
-getting so excited when I talk that I interrupt or fail to listen to the other person
-my current failure to stick with a regular exercise program
-failure to be in the moment

Five things you like doing:
-love to paint
-walks on the beach, hiking in the woods
-being with friends &/or my family, laughing & talking
-having long talks with my hubby when we go out to eat
-reading, all types of books, fiction, art books, fashion magazines

Five things you would never wear, buy, or get again:
-Lip Fusion (check out Nov. archives and scroll down to the "At what Price" entry)
-Strivectin, another expensive beauty product that is a complete waste of money
-a bikini, my stomach hasn't seen the light of day for over 35 years and I like it that way

Five favorite toys:
-My studio is one big toybox
-iPod and the JBL player that I use with it
-Laptop computer

First time you got kissed: How was it?
I can't even remember who it was how pitiful is that.

First time you drove a car: What kind of car?
Deb, I know you will think I am just stealing your answers but I drove my mom's maroon Oldsmobile Cutlass too.

First Date? I have no earthly idea. I was a nerd child so didn't really date much (at all!) until I got to college. VERY late bloomer.

First time you scrapbooked (if you ever have): A couple weeks ago helping Marian and her family make up a scrapbook for Jeff's birthday. It was fun. Especially cause Marian has so much stuff, like a store almost, and she let us just go at it.

First time you fell in love: Hmm, very hard since I was so slow to enter the romance realm. I thought I was "in love" with Ralph Nichols in the 8th grade. And again in High School. And again in College. And again after one of my divorces. No, that last time is a joke because the minute we got together (both available at the same time) I knew it wasn't and never would be love.

First time you cooked for someone: I cooked for Doug, #2 husband. Spaghetti and meat sauce. It was a big hit, he always loved my cooking which is something I remember well since my first husband was a "foodie" and I never did anything to suit him. He always thought it needed another tweak in some regard. Hence I have conveniently forgotten every thing I might have cooked for him. OH!!! I also remember once when I was in high school (??) and tried to make a strawberry pie. Have no idea who it was for, but my mom wasn't home and I was doing this on my own. I made up the dough for the crust and suddenly totally blanked out on HOW I was supposed to make the crust flat. So I pressed it flat with my hands. Needless to say it was pretty thick.

First time you got on a plane: I was 17, it was a small plane and I was taking a flying lesson that was a gift from my parents for my birthday. I knew I would love it and I did. My first commercial flight was my freshman year of college when I flew to NY to visit my Dad's aunt and uncle.

Five of your favorite movies:
-The Gods must be Crazy
-Harold and Maude
-The Usual Suspects
-In America
-The Shawshank Redemtion

Most memorable moment:
This is hard. I don't think I've had it yet or maybe I don't categorize memories that way. But wait, I do remember one time - absolutely charmed time - with John when we were in Cornwall, England. It had been storming all day and we finally found this amazing country inn where we decided to stay for the night. It was a grand old estate complete with a fire blazing in the foyer, dogs asleep near the hearth. We signed up for dinner and headed to our room where I soaked in a hot bath. After a delightful dinner the weather suddenly cleared and it was crisp and beautiful outside. I wanted to take a walk to see the coastline. Our host discouraged us because it was so wet and dusk was descending. But once I get an idea, well, you know....anyway, we headed out, armed with directions. Hip high foliage, all wet, we plowed through it all on a very rugged trail. Neither of us had any idea where we were going but as if by magic, we appeared in a clearing on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. The moon was full, the sea wild. It was Wuthering Heights come to life and I will never forget it, the intensity and romance of that moment.

I think maybe I am supposed to tag someone else now? If Heidi, Beth, Denise or Ruth feel like jumping in that would be cool. If not, that's ok too.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Calling all knitters

Wow, I just found this website with video clips showing all this stuff I wanted to know about knitting. Lessons on how to do all sorts of things I was wondering about. I know I have friends who could help me but they are never around at the exact moment when I need instruction.

Very cool. Like having a knitting teacher right here in my house. All kinds of techniques that are shown in the books but I NEED TO SEE IT like changing colors, knitting in the round, socks, cable's all in the link above and there are other links to beginning sections that show cast on, etc.

This changes everything.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

John is sick. He's been suffering from some unknown cold/allergy/sinus/asthma crap for maybe 6 weeks or more. Now it seems to have turned a bit worse and he has a very ugly cough. He has a Dr's. appointment Friday but that seems oh so far away.

Time for me to kick into gear. I'm not exactly the chicken soup type but I do the best I can. Tonight it was a Red Miso concoction.

One of my friends is suffering from an immune disorder and her accupuncturist recommended Red Miso to help remove toxins from her body. And then there is the conventional thinking about mushrooms and their healing ability with respect to the immune system. Believe me I totally swear by this stuff, alternative remedies. I took a mushroom tincture when I had Epstein Barr several years ago and even my Dr. was stunned with how quickly I bounced back.

So off I went to Whole Foods and came home with several bags of MB style remedies. The more the better meaning we throw everything we know at the situation and hope to goodness something works. I'm not sure if John believes in all this stuff but it can't possibly hurt, right?

First up was the Odwalla Strawberry C Monster. This is a vital part of any healing regimen for me; it has something like 1000% vitamin C. Plus it tastes really really good. Next up was the Gypsy Cold Care tea which helps respiratory situations. Must be prepared with local honey(which we already had) to help the immune system fight local allergins.

And then the soup.......which I made myself, invented out of my own pea brain cooking head. I started out with a mixture of organic mushrooms, sauteed lightly in olive oil. Then a bunch of fresh ginger. An assortment of veggies - bok choy, carrot, broccoli, celery, spinach, scallions. Boneless chicken thighs, glazed with some sort of Asian sauce (ok, I cheated and got this at the food bar). Water, teriyaki and fish sauce. The Miso was in paste form and shouldn't be boiled so I mixed it with water then added at the very end.

Yum. I was startled at how delicious this was if I do say so myself. More like a Miso stew I suppose, very non-Asian the way I loaded it up with ingredients. It even cured my headache. And I still have my fingers crossed that it will help John. He seemed to enjoy it.

And come to think of it, maybe I did make chicken soup......the Miso is so salty perhaps this is the Asian version.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

He's on Fire!

My husband got a job a few weeks ago working with our friend Claire doing sales regarding an internet business. It's complicated (not really- I am just trying to stay out of it) but Claire makes decent money with an extremely flexible schedule. Plus she knows the people who own this business. John was lucky to get hired. But he's good and they are also lucky to have him.

So, we moved the laptop into the guest room and he has set up shop. I am still in the office and we share it for our personal stuff (bill paying) and my art business. But he has his own space for his job. And I can still use the office as needed without interrupting him. We worked this way all last week and it felt great.

Yesterday morning I was puttering along when I heard a loud(very loud, it was scaring the cats) beeping sound, like a truck backing up only there was an emergency feel to the sound. I sort of yelled across the hall, "is that you?" and he said yes, it was. Since it continued and it was annoying, I went to see what was going on. I am like that, have to see for myself, very nosy. Plus I wanted it to stop.

It was coming from the laptop. There was no display shown on the screen, totally black. It was not plugged in. We couldn't get it to stop until John finally popped the battery out of the back.

Appears he had gotten up to go to the bathroom. When he returned to the room, he sat down and touched the mouse. He heard a "pop." Static electricity, happens all the time here as it is too dry. But this time that was all she wrote. Our computer is dead, fried, kaput. Because my husband touched it.

Weird, huh? He can be very stimulating but this tops all.

Monday, March 06, 2006


When we moved back to the Midwest several years ago I planned to have my studio in my home rather than rent a separate spot like I did in CA. Since most of the homes have basements, it seemed so obvious and easy. What I did not imagine was that so many of the basements had been remodeled in such an upscale manner, totally unsuitable to a studio. I mean I was used to concrete floors stained with paint. And I liked it that way.

The house we eventually bought also had a remodeled basement but it was not as nice as some of the others, no "media" room, thank goodness, no expensive floor treatments. The carpet (yes, it is carpeted) was old, kind of a dusty looking berber imitation, creamy in color if you can imagine. John gave me permission to trash it because he knew I would feel inhibited in my process otherwise.

So, in these last couple years I have pretty much crapped it up although in a semi-controlled manner. If I am working totally messy, like with dripping inks and such, I put down a tarp. For some reason I didn't think of it with this large commission.

It was bound to happen. The worst of the worst.

Yesterday I tossed an entire container of Golden fluid acrylics on the carpet. A 4 ounce bottle. Quinacridone Gold of course. The one color I can't live without; the color I use on nearly everything that ventures into my vision; the color I bought up in mass quantity because I was uncertain if Golden's replacement product would be "the same." In fact, when this happened, I was actually more concerned about sacrificing the paint than ruining my carpet.

Then reality hit. And despite the fact I have been trashing the space, I realized that a one foot diameter stain of paint was going to look reallyreally ugly in the middle of the room. Which is when I got to work with carpet cleaning efforts.

During the cleaning process, I became mesmerized with the beauty of this paint I love this stuff so much. There was a point when it had been diluted across the carpet fibers and was totally gorgeous; the carpet looked better than it ever had! I entertained a brief fantasy about just staining the entire surface to see how it would look. Until I slapped myself back to real life (it is A LOT of square footage) and kept scrubbing.

Oxy Clean is some sort of a miracle product. I don't know how or why this stuff works but it does. And 40 minutes + a roll of paper towels later John couldn't even find the spot.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscar observations

1. The women are way too skinny. Like anorexic dangerous skinny......beautiful women just wasting away to nothing with their scrawny ass arms and no boobs. Jessica Alba (she does have teeny weeny little boobs and such a pretty face). Michelle Williams (who just had a baby, this quick weight loss could not possibly be healthy), Keira Knightly (ok, so she's young), Felicity Huffman. What is with these women!?!?!?!?! Thank God for Salma Hayek and Sandra Bullock who looked gorgeously normal.

2. Uma Thurman rocks. Best dress of the night to my humble untrained eye. She is a Goddess.

3. What on earth has happened to Dolly Parton? She looks like an animated figure from a Tim Burton movie.

My refuge

When we decorated our bedroom last year, I knew I wanted a little spot of my own. A place where I could read, nap, write in my journal. This had always been a dream of mine but we never had a house that provided exactly the right "feel."

Because I wanted a pretty spot, lit by the sun. A cozy escape where I could be catlike. I imagined a window seat perhaps?

Although it's not a window seat, this is the next best thing. Other than my studio, it's my favorite part of the house.

Merlyn likes it too.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A few names ago....

Thanks to Jane for this Numerology stuff. Love it!!!

You entered: Mary Beth Hoffman
There are 15 letters in your name.Those 15 letters total to 74. There are 4 vowels and 11 consonants in your name.

Your number is: 11
The characteristics of #11 are: High spiritual plane, intuitive, illumination, idealist, a dreamer.
The number 11 is the first of the master numbers. It is associated with idealistic concepts and rather spiritual issues. Accordingly, it is a number with potentials that are somewhat more difficult to live up to. You have the capacity to be inspirational, and the ability to lead merely by your own example. An inborn inner strength and awareness can make you an excellent teacher, social worker, philosopher, or advisor. No matter what area of work you pursue, you are very aware and sensitive to the highest sense of your environment. Your intuition is very strong; in fact, many psychic people and those involved in occult studies have the number 11 expression. You possess a good mind with keen analytical ability. Because of this you can probably succeed in most lines of work, however, you will do better and be happier outside of the business world. Oddly enough, even here you generally succeed, owing to your often original and unusual approach. Nonetheless, you are more content working with your ideals, rather than dollars and cents.
The positive aspect of the number 11 expression is an always idealistic attitude. Your thinking is long term, and you are able to grasp the far-reaching effects of actions and plans. You are disappointed by the shortsighted views of many of your contemporaries. You are deeply concerned and supportive of art, music, or of beauty in any form.
The negative attitudes associated with the number 11 expression include a continuous sense of nervous tension; you may be too sensitive and temperamental. You tend to dream a lot and may be more of a dreamer than a doer. Fantasy and reality sometimes become intermingled and you are sometimes very impractical. You tend to want to spread the illumination of your knowledge to others irrespective of their desire or need.

Your Soul Urge number is: 4
A Soul Urge number of 4 means: With the Soul Urge or Motivation number of 4 you are likely to strive for a stable life. You tend to follow a rather orderly pattern and systematic approach in your endeavors. You have an inner desire to serve others in a methodical and diligent manner. You want to be in solid, conventional, and well-regulated activities, and you are somewhat disturbed by innovation and erratic or sudden changes. Excellent at organizing, systematizing, and managing, you have a way of establishing order and maintaining it. You are responsible, reliable and in the final analysis, practical. Highly analytical, you can see your way through all sorts of situations and generally have a clear understanding of the issues. You are a very honest, sincere, and conscientious individual.
The negative side of the 4 is rigid, stubborn and somewhat narrow-minded. There is a tendency to hide feelings, or to really not be aware of real feelings. Avoid being too rigid and stubborn in your thinking, and try to always see the big picture rather than becoming to involved with the detail. Don't be afraid to take a chance once in awhile.

Your Inner Dream number is: 7
An Inner Dream number of 7 means: You dream of having the opportunity to read, study, and shut yourself off from worldly distractions. You can see yourself as a teacher, mystic, or ecclesiastic, spending your life in the pursuit of knowledge and learning.
Want to learn about your birthday? Click here!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I am working on a big commission. Mongo size. It is 6 ft. tall by 4 ft. wide and encompasses 5 generations of my client's family, over 100 photos.

I have scanned, digitally re-touched, sized, printed and cut out all the photos. As I worked the layout, I had to resize, reprint and cut everything out again because things kept changing. And changing. And changing. This process took weeks.

Then I researched backgrounds, gathering all sorts of related ephemera from various sources such as eBay, flea markets, my own collection. Stuff like maps of hometowns, college campuses. Pertinent sheet music, menus. I then scanned, sized and printed those items, using a mix of originals and copies.

I am working 2 canvasses side by side on tables. One is the background, the other the foreground. They take up a whole lot of studio space as you can see. The cats freely walk under them but I have to walk on top of my furniture to change the stereo, turn the lights on and off, etc. It is nuts.

After I put the background materials down, I moved that canvas to a vertical position so I could prepare for the painting. I put little sticky notes over parts of the composition that I want to be sure and "keep" as in NOT paint over them. I am happy with the background, so pleased I am inspired to do another similar work.

Did I mention I have a deadline? And that it's April 1st? No that's not a joke. Totally do-able. The painting, after all, is the fun part, what I live for.

So why am I paralyzed with fear!?!?!???????????

Probably because this is the most planned of any work I have ever done. With all the photos, it pretty much had to be that way out of necessity. And even though I am capable of being quite the planner girl in other venues, this goes somewhat against my artistic process. I am typically very intuitive. Usually I just start to paint and trust the process.

And I guess that's what I need to do here. Just start to paint already.

And trust the process.