I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Friday, November 17, 2017

"Skill"

Nobody is born a "master" at anything.  Child prodigies aren't born with skills.  The child sits in front of a piano, loves plinking at the keys, and continues to plink until the noise becomes music.  They're praised, and they plink a lot more.  Maybe the kid was born into a musical family, maybe a parent teaches them some things.  A prodigy develops over time in a fertile environment.  So too with art and any other pursuit that requires skill, even if most of us won't be child prodigies and learn our skills as adults.

I've been in the archives this week.  I'm working on another painting and was looking for reference materials.  In the hunt, I discovered these rare, preschool drawings.  To my knowledge, these are the only evidence of my early art efforts until I started saving my drawings many years later.  I can only wonder about my concepts of anatomy back then, or what was going on around me to inspire love and hate.

I tend to think art is an inheritable tendency.  I'm from an artistic family, and because they're artistic, my parents encouraged me.  I suppose they probably also appreciated the fact that art is a quiet activity and easier for adults to be around?  But, I started out like every other kid with a crayon.  I looked at my world and tried to copy my vision of it.  I got better at doing that over time.  I enjoyed doing it, so I did more of it.  I was competitive enough to want to do it better than my peers.  I wanted praise.  Eventually, I got to the point where I developed some real skills.  I studied and acquired more skills.

Now, it seems like the world doesn't care about those skills that I've spent so many hours accumulating.  The painting I'm working on could be accomplished much faster, and more technically perfect, on the computer.  I've been giving some thought to the practical stupidity of spending so much time on things that aren't going to pay the bills.

And I don't care.

It might be the first time in decades that I don't care.  I'm painting for me.  I'm working through personal issues with paint and feeling a pleasure that I haven't felt for a very long time -- and kind of stumbling into an awareness that this kind of painting is far more important than all the BS I did as an illustrator/graphic designer through the years.

It would be nice to get money for these paintings, but the paintings are more important to me than the bucks.  Of course this is only true because I still have enough money to keep the lights on.  Life would be so much easier if I had a trust fund or a patron.  (If you didn't see the other painting, you can see it here.)

This is just a part of the unfinished painting.  At the moment, it's a mostly empty box which I'm going to fill up with things.  I'm having some trouble planning out how to make things fit inside, but even that problem is a pleasure at the moment.  One thing is for sure though, this painting will go much faster than the last one!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"Wax"

Sis ate one of my crayons.  It was a broken bit of a useless color like mustard or flesh, but still, eating non-food items was curious, and eating my crayons was criminal.  Even at my tender age of about 4, I wanted to know why she did it.  "A girl in my class eats crayons.  I wanted to know what they taste like."  Well, what did it taste like?  "Like a candle, like wax."  Sis sorted through my colors and picked up another broken bit of an expendable color.  She popped it in her mouth, chewed thoughtfully, and pronounced crayons weren't worth eating.

I waited until she was off to more exciting adventures before sampling an expendable color myself.  Blech.  I felt sorry for that girl in Sis' class.  Something wasn't right about her.  This was before I went to class and found out quite a few kids eat non-food art supplies.  I sampled glue and decided that was right up there with crayons, but paste?  Mmmm.  The paste even had a convenient plastic paddle inside for convenient licking.

"If everybody jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?" Dad asked.  Yes, as it turns out, I would jump off the bridge, but that was quite a few years later.  I felt like telling Dad it was fun too, but then I heard about kids getting paralyzed doing that kind of thing and kept quiet.  I also learned that eating my paste meant I had less paste for art.  Less art is stupid.  Don't eat paste.

Sometimes I look at people and see a world filled with lemmings running off cliffs.  Think for yourself!  I can feel superior in these moments and completely forget that I ate a crayon and jumped off a bridge (plus a plethora of other ill-advised activities).

There are other times I think being an independent minded person is punishing.  I can see the cliff coming.  I can warn others about the cliff.  We all go over the cliff anyway.  Ignorance is bliss until you hit the bottom, and then I'm pretty sure none of the lemmings are thinking about their choices anymore.  Sometimes I'd like to be ignorant too.

We've all eaten a crayon or licked paste or some equivalent action because we saw someone else doing it.  I was going to write that nothing good ever comes from it, but I remembered learning to use a computer.  I tried reading about it, but I didn't get it until I watched someone else use it.  We learn by following.  It's just the next step, tasting the crayon and deciding not to eat another that's important.  What do you do with all of the things you've learned?

In art, we can see when someone takes off their training wheels.  There are millions of Bob Ross knock offs, and then you see a landscape with life and colors that weren't shown on the tv how-to show.  That's the magic, when someone expresses themselves instead of simply copying.  Art mirrors life.  You can feel the joy when someone takes off the training wheels of their lives and thinks for him/herself.

I'm pretty sure we're all some mix of crayon eaters and artists.  We're all works in progress.  It keeps life interesting.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"Women"

Harvey Weinstein's despicable behavior may have a positive outcome for women?  The fame of many of his victims has brought national attention to a subject women have known a long time.  The fact that many of the famous women, and Weinstein himself, are Democrats have Republicans excited to report it.  Democrats sin.  Take your attention off alleged presidential treason, tax evasion, and money laundering.  Republicans are also delighted about the Democratic party making a deal with pre-convention Hillary Clinton.

As a Bernie supporter, I'm seriously annoyed with the Democratic party.  I addictively watch news about the varied investigations into the Russian scandal.  T whines he wants investigations into HC's emails whenever he's in trouble though authorities have already said HC made poor decisions without breaking the law.  Let's get to the main issue that effects everybody, sexism.

I'm delighted to hear men talking about the topic.  Granted, a sorry amount of those men seem to completely miss the point of the subject, but they're talking.  It's a start.

Sexism isn't about sex.  It's domination and bullying.  Offenders are often married or in relationships.  They get consensual sex.  Harassing a woman at work makes them feel powerful.  In no way is this a "flattering" or "friendly".  Here's some statistics...

  • Nearly 1 in 5 women report being raped.
  • About 1 in 20 women experienced sexual violence other than rape in the last 12 months.
  • 20% of all US crime is domestic violence and it is the leading cause of injury for women.  The FBI estimates violence will occur in 2/3 of all marriages."
That's enough statistics.  It's a violent world.  That violence follows us through office doors.  The greatest tragedy is that the violence is tacitly condoned by the powers that be.  Human Resources departments exist to protect companies.  Policemen are often child abusers and wife beaters.  Laws are written to protect men in power.  Victims fear to band together because they are afraid they'll lose their positions.

Many otherwise good people seem blind to reality.  Maybe Weinstein's abuses finally breaks through decades of concrete bubbles around other abusers?  When Bill O'Reilly was outed, many enjoyed his downfall without much sympathy to his quickly forgotten victims.  When Anita Hill testified to Congress, she was criticized and diminished while Clarence Thomas was given a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Sexism is a huge topic that effects women at work and at home.  I suppose it takes some famous women to make the point, but it happens to your mom, aunt, sister, daughter, niece, friend, neighbor, and maybe to you.  Also, as Kevin Spacey demonstrated, not all victims are female.

Keep talking.  Don't let this bubble fade without awareness and change.

This art is something I did for American Mensa's Bulletin magazine.  In this context, it's a reminder that the world can be a place of comfort and support between genders.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

"Spooky"

DadadaDA!!  I finished my painting.  Woo hoo!  Yay!  A painting I realize has very little to do with "spooky" -- then I remembered painting The Ghost of Dibble Hollow, so I'm clearly completely legit about following the word for the week :)

There's a lot I could say about this painting, but I'm curious about what you think of it without anymore explanation than I've already given.  I've even got another painting  or 2 in mind that will follow similar themes.  Hopefully they won't take years to complete!

As for "spooky", when we were kids, Sis2 and her friends played "Who's Afraid of Bloody Mary?"  They took turns locking each other in a closet and scaring themselves silly.  I got shoved into the closet for a turn too.  I reluctantly said the words 3x and felt torn between terror and healthy skepticism.

The other girls wouldn't let me out.  As the youngest, they thought they could get me to scream the loudest, and they kept me incarcerated for a very long time.  I amused myself by examining the contents of the closet by candlelight.  By the time I was allowed out, I'd lost most of my fear and come to the decision that the girls weren't really playing, they were just cruel.

The girls thought I lacked the proper attitude for play.  Maybe?  My 5-year-old self felt pretty sure about my conclusions though.  I told a school friend about the torture test and she agreed with me.  We polled our other playmates and everyone agreed, with an observation that most older siblings are mean.  We were sensitive middle children.

This experience oddly turned into a life-long interest in collecting other people's ghost stories -- not fake stories intended to frighten, but real stories.  It started that day on the playground when 2 of my classmates shared their experiences.  We were all awed and wondered together about the nature of reality and the afterlife.  I remain charmed by the unknown and magic in life.

My grandma died suddenly when I was in my 20s.  I still hadn't gotten my mind wrapped around this new reality on the day of the funeral.  My unusually well-dressed family picked up Grandpa at his house and loaded up the car.  Mom sent me back in to make sure the back door was locked.  It was.  With my mind on getting to the funeral home, I went through the kitchen, dining room...

"Linda.", Grandma said from the kitchen.

I turned around expecting to see her.  Empty air in the arch between the 2 rooms.  Uh?

"Grandma?"

Silence.

I didn't want to move.  Didn't want to break whatever just happened.  Mom tooted the horn, and I got in the car for a funeral I didn't want to attend.

For an extra oddity, Mom told me the same thing happened to Grandma when her grandma died.  She was playing piano and she heard "Laura."  That's it, nothing more.  I'm grateful Grandma said goodbye.

As for last week's rambling about giving kids candy on Halloween, Paula at Mindful Drawing shared a practice in Ireland of giving stickers out.  I think that's a great idea :)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

"Sugar"

I looked at the candy in the grocery store and waged an internal debate with myself between love of Halloween and the perils of sugar.  I like handing out candy.  I lived for Halloween when I was a sugar-deprived child.  Today's kids get sweets all the time.  They don't appreciate it.  At the rate we're going, 1 out of 3 of them are going to end up with diabetes, partly because they eat so much processed food with sugar hidden inside.

Kids should have fun.  I picked up the candy.  I don't want to be responsible for fat, diabetic children.  I put the candy back.  I started pushing my cart forward, but not very fast.  I looked back at the candy and heard myself whimpering inside.  I thought about the leftover candy I'd get to eat and started pushing the cart away in earnest.  I don't want diabetes either.

It sucks to think about such things.  I love sugar.  I want leftover candy.  I long for cakes and pies and cookies.  I'm still whimpering inside a bit.

I don't want to come across as holier than thou about dietary health.  I'm not as fit as I should be.  I indulge in sloth and brownies, partly in continued defiance of my health freak parents.  As a child, I sulked in envy as I watched my peers eating Wonder bread sandwiches with chips and Coke.  Their peanut butter had magical preservatives and other mysterious qualities that didn't require strenuous stirring before spreading, and the luckiest kids got peanut butter with stripes of jelly already in the jar.

The peanut butter currently in my cupboard requires stirring.  I pair it with unsweetened, homemade apple butter because I like it better than jelly.  When I finally got a chance to eat Wonder bread, I choked on its unnatural cotton texture.  I see the irony.  Maybe we just can't escape our early training?

But, my early training also included my grandparents' unrestricted candy dish.  Grandma was always good for desserts, pancakes with syrup, and sprinklings of sugar on tomatoes.  Grandpa kept Vernor's ginger ale in the basement and a large container of vanilla ice cream in the freezer.  My uncle had huge metal tins of Army surplus candy.  I loved all of them, and sticky sweetness and sugar comas were part of the love.

I could give out apples at Halloween, but I remember my feelings when the neighbors down the street gave apples.  Don't get me wrong, they were really nice apples, but apples in an orchard community aren't all that special.  I didn't complain when Dad confiscated them with warnings about razor blades hidden inside.  I honestly thought Dad made that up as justification for inspecting and confiscating Halloween candy, but then the news reported on it.  How sick do you have to be to tamper with children's candy?

I have 10 days as of this writing to argue with myself about buying kids candy this year.  Sadly, I will argue with myself about it up till the 31st.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only one having this internal dialogue.  Maybe I should make caramel apples?

This apple is another bit of the painting I've been working on.  After such a long period of avoidance, I've come to love working on it.  I think I'll also love it when it's finally finished!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Safety"

I stuck my thumb with a pin when I was diapering my brother.  My thumb swelled 3 or 4 times its usual size, giving off enough heat to toast bread.  I wondered if I'd lose my thumb from gangrene while cursing the false advertising of "safety" pins.  Thankfully, my brothers all made it to adulthood and I kept my thumb.

Walter Hunt invented safety pins as a way to pay a $15 debt and got a US patent in 1849.  He sold the patent for $400 to W. R. Grace and Co. who made millions from his invention.  (I'll refrain from commenting on the exploitation of creative output and speculation about how many people lost thumbs diapering babies.)

Hardly anyone uses cloth diapers anymore.  Disposable diapers (and similar products) are a huge problem in landfills.  I diapered a baby with cloth more recently and was surprised there weren't any pins.  Just wrap the baby with the diaper, then a plastic wrapper fastened with velcro.  Voila!  Seriously, that's an even better idea than safety pins.

It may be hard to believe, but shitty diapers is actually the my better thoughts when considering "safety".  The news has been one tragedy after another.  Mass shootings, wildfires, hurricanes, genocides... None of these are simple issues with easy answers, and my president isn't invested in solving any of them anyway.  He wants 10x more nuclear weapons.  I'll agree with Rex Tillerson on at least one thing, T is a f-ing moron.

Safety is an illusion.  Bad things happen whether by accident, nature, or evil intent.  Should we live our lives locked in a safe room with an arsenal of guns?

Here some hard wisdom I've acquired through the years...

I am safe right now.  What I fear hasn't happened yet, and may never happen.

The more I focus on what I dread, the more likely I'll cause it to happen.

Fear often comes from putting other's needs, demands, and criticisms ahead of my own best interests.  Other's thoughts and priorities aren't mine and don't serve me.

All pain, emotional or physical, is temporary.  Even if you have to die to get out of it, sooner or later it's going to end.  The partner(s) I thought I couldn't live without got on with his life, and eventually, so did I.  At some point I even realized I was much happier without him (them).  My throbbing, infected thumb healed.  Lots of other physical miseries eventually passed.  Repeat "I am safe right now".

Breathe.  Deep breath in... I'm bringing healing into my life.  Deep breath out... I'm releasing what doesn't serve me.  In healing, out releasing...

The painting I've been working on is all about releasing.  This pin is another tiny part of it.  I have a freelance project to do and I keep whining to myself that I don't want to be responsible.  I want to work on my painting.  Naturally, neither the painting nor the assignment is getting done -- and it's a gorgeous day outside.  There aren't that many more sunny, summery days left this year...

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"Opulent"

This earring is a tiny part of a 2'x4' painting I started in the beginning of 2016.  You can tell the earring is tiny from the size of the canvas weave.  I painted it with 1 hair of a brush.  That's just too tiny for me to paint, let alone see!

This painting leaned against the wall, the bookcase, the fireplace for months.  I  started to resent the damned thing because I didn't know what to do with it.  I had an idea; I just didn't know how to bring the idea into reality.  I leaned it up against a heavy chair that I had also started to resent, and varied my time between ignoring both or glaring at both.

One day, I decided to move the chair to the basement.  This was something I'd been afraid to try because when I say the chair is heavy, I mean it's really heavy with cast iron parts inside.  It's also big and awkward, with legs which prevented me from using a dolly.  There's also doors and corners to negotiate from the living room to the basement.

I shoved and hefted the thing to the top of the stairs, then realized the only way to get it down to the next step was to lean over the high back of the chair to grasp the arms, then lift, then drop, lift, drop... with visions of tumbling head over heels to the cement floor at the bottom.  I debated the pure stupidity of the risks, and did it anyway.

Somehow, the removal of the red chair made me feel more kindly towards my red painting.  I painted over some of the red with blue and felt more kindly still.  I started working on the painting in earnest.  Perhaps some people can't understand how furniture moving can have a lot to do with creative expression, but I'm pretty sure others will understand painting the living room walls might help even more.  How many artists through the ages painted glittering jewelry for those living opulent lifestyles while the artists starved and shivered in their studios while glaring at something intrusive in their spaces?

This painting has been hard for me to do because the point of it is to address negatives -- and I don't enjoy dwelling on negatives.  I want to force bad memories into the darkest places in my mind.  Elina St-Onge wrote, "Every painful emotion... is like a child in distress. When we repress them, it is as if we purposely lock this child self into a room, forcing it to relive a trauma alone and behind closed doors while we look the other way. In other words, it is self-abuse."

What if all of those painful emotions are precious inspirations?

If I ever complete this painting, you can tell me what you see in it.  In the meantime, painting it has been a journey of looking for abandoned children in locked rooms.  It's a process of discovering what really matters to me, which is often wrapped around my worst memories.  Perhaps, the only real path to happiness is through the places we avoid?

Saturday, September 30, 2017

"Time Travel"

I had a dream once...  I was told by an unknown force that time didn't behave the way I thought.  I was shown a flat piece of paper.  "You think time starts here and progresses to there."  A point on the left was indicated for the beginning, and a spot on the right for later.  "Time isn't like that."  The paper was crumpled up and a place was marked with a black marker where 2 folds touched.  "In reality, these times are close together."  The paper was smoothed out.  The black dots were far apart when the paper was flat.  "The universe has folds in it like the paper.  Some times are easily touched from the present, and the present isn't as absolute as you think."

Well!  Mess with my reality!  I couldn't imagine coming up with this idea on my own and wondered who was teaching me such things.

I woke up feeling like I ought to inform NASA or someone in authority about how time works.  Of course, I didn't.  Who needs a folder on themselves at a government agency documenting radical thinking?  (It's so much better to blog about it!)

Sometimes I think novels about time travel wouldn't exist if there wasn't some part of our minds that believes it's possible.  Why can't we peek through the veil at the past or future events?  Maybe it's just a deep desire to correct the tragedies of the past?  Anticipate the tragedies of the future?

Mostly, I try to avoid politics on this blog.  I have opinions.  I'm pretty sure regular visitors can guess my opinions.  I just want this to be a pleasant place instead of foot stomping rants about the general public's stupidity and ignorance.  Sometimes I wonder if I'd spoken up more before the last election whether or not I could've had an influence?  Probably not -- yet, what if all the sane people had spoken up more?  Maybe collectively we could've changed things?

Current events in the US and in other democracies are comparable to watching the destruction of Rome or the Nazi-fication of Germany.  Except, the present stupidity is worse than the fall of an empire or murder of specific types of people.  It will be in the 80s (F) this week in Ohio, that's not right.  People are dying in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands because the strength of hurricanes is part of climate change, and the government is slow to help these people because they're not white enough.  (...deleting obscenities...)  US officials aren't working to protect the safety of our elections because Russian interference worked out for Republicans.

If I could time travel, I'd like to peek ahead 50 years to see whether or not Earth still exists as we know it.  I'd go back in time and try to argue more persuasively to the idjits.

Unrelated, I have ranted about wildlife decimating my gardening efforts.  Since the groundhog kept eating my Swiss chard, I planted some in an indoor pot.  I couldn't understand why it didn't grow very well despite my best efforts.  I wondered if the groundhog had found a way inside -- and then I caught my dog eating it.  Varmints inside and out!

Friday, September 22, 2017

"Juice"

When I went to the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), my classmates and I were welcomed and illuminated by the president of the college, Joseph Canzani.  "We will teach you to see what you've never seen before!"  My classmates got years of humor from his pompous and pretentious speech, but there was some truth to it.  If you really want to understand something, you've really got to look.

I know we've all seen the inside of a tomato.  Maybe you've studied it a little.  The act of reproducing what we see forces us to study it quite a bit more.  We think we know what it looks like, and what we think we know can overshadow what's really true.  We have to be willing to let go of what we think we know in order to truly learn what is.

For instance, I "knew" tomatoes are symmetrical.  They aren't.  They're approximately similar from side to side.  They have veins.  The seeds aren't mathematically perfect.  The inner jelly is an alien mix of red, brown, purple, and phosphorescent green.  I could go on.  Get to know your own tomatoes.  See what you've never seen before!

Once you've studied all of the wonders of tomato-ness, what then?  Do you share your new-found tomato awareness?  Don't get stuck on the tomato example.  Whether it's a tomato or listening to the other side of a political argument, have you truly looked at the issue, or are you just operating on your assumptions about it?

This week, I've been watching the Public Broadcast Service's (PBS) documentary on the Vietnam War.  I lived through these events when I was a child, and I've always been aware that the war greatly effects my world view.  I'm watching the series to get another look at those times.  In essence, to test my assumptions about the tomato.

The other night, I watched a Buddhist monk set himself on fire and burn to death.  Imagine what that was like when I was a small child.  I saw other children crying, old people crying, soldiers crying, houses burning, piles of bodies, stacks of coffins, mutilated POWs.

This Ken Burns series is excessively long in my opinion, but it's nothing like my childhood when tv was war all the time.  It wasn't like 9/11 when people acknowledged the PTSD generated by one day's footage.  People, especially kids, got counseling.  In my day, kids didn't have any real thoughts or feelings to worry about.  They'll grow out of it, and counseling is hippy dippy crap anyway.

There were some positive things that came out of all this televised violence.  I understood people of different races and places had feelings.  They bleed, they die.  Old white guys in government can be dead wrong, self-absorbed, and power hungry.  The war made me more empathetic and a committed pacifist.  In some ways, maybe it would be better if we still showed the sins of war on tv?  Maybe we'd stop the wars we're currently fighting and put that money into health care and education.

Watching the show is unpleasant for me, but I think there's a chance that it will let me see those times more clearly, to see as I've never seen before.  Though I have to admit, I'd rather study tomatoes.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Jazz"

This week's word instantly had me singing "Come on babe, why don't we paint the town?  And all that jazz."  I've been known to burst into musicals when circumstances require it.  There's a lyric for every human experience or weather condition.  "Oh, what a beautiful morning!"  "Soon it's gonna rain.  I can feel it."  I fondly remember sitting on a fence with Beth having a boisterous musicals sing-off while her future husband shook his head and laughed.  Hey, he knew what he was getting into.

I produced musicals and other entertainments at a community theater.  I hired directors, put in my 2¢ during auditions, sold advertising, begged donations, wrote PSAs, researched lighting and sound upgrades, maintained databases, corralled volunteers, and handed out drinks backstage.  That's just the surface tasks.  There were a lot more things to do.  I never wanted to be a producer, but I loved it.

Art is a poor career for anyone who likes big paychecks and steady employment, but it was the only career I wanted.  I've been laid off numerous times, and I've done whatever I had to do when I had to do it.  Sometimes I've been happily surprised that I liked the other jobs.  Some sucked and I sang "Working in the chain gang" (Jim Croce version).

This week, I watched a PBS show about Tyrus Wong, the artist behind "Bambi".  His influence was especially unusual since he was a Chinese immigrant, and the movie was released in 1942.  That was a hard time to be Chinese in America.

He was an awesome artist.  Think of all those beautiful backgrounds and emotional colors in Bambi.  He got screwed out of full credit for his work on the film.  He lost his job and picked asparagus to feed his family, which I have to imagine is right up there with my shoveling horse manure in unpleasantness.  Maybe worse?  At least I wasn't hunched over in a field all day every day in the blazing sun, but he didn't have to smell manure and listen to opera.  Tyrus got a job at another studio and set the visual tone for many famous movies.  He painted dishes.  He made kites.  He lived a very long and fulfilling life.

There comes a time when many of us find ourselves wondering why life is hard.  Why isn't it going the way I thought it would, or why don't I get the rewards I've earned?

Many notables through history had their own asparagus or manure periods.  Sometimes the side paths we take are unexpectedly fun like managing a theater.  Whatever we do, we take those experiences with us into our future adventures, and I think they make us better, stronger in the end.  At the very least, they can make us more humble and interesting.

I spent a stupid amount of time painting 3 large backgrounds yesterday.  At least, the plan was for them to be backgrounds.  I keep contemplating my choices.  I think I've been influenced by Tyrus Wong's less is more style and keep wondering if maybe I should let the paintings be what they are without embellishments?  I also considered putting a trumpet on one of them to fit "jazz" better, but that's just silly -- but no less silly that the paw print my puppy added at the bottom.

Friday, September 8, 2017

"Recipe"

I went to a farmer's market and bought an eggplant.  I don't like eggplant.  I couldn't resist its purple beauty, or maybe its sensuous texture?  I don't know.  All I knew was that I had an eggplant without a plan.  I dimly thought I could make an eggplant lasagna, which is a travesty of lasagna, but the best I could think of for an eggplant.

I ignored the eggplant while making a giant pot of potato/cauliflower soup.  This was too much soup for my freezer, so I spent time defrosting and reorganizing, contemplating a previous impulse purchase of squid.  I had gone to an Italian grocery store with an Italian.  Maybe I got swept up with her enthusiasm for cooking?  I plunked the squid into the sink to defrost with the vague thought that squid was somewhat like clams, so maybe it would work in the potato soup like clam chowder.

I cut squid rings and lightly sautéed them.  Mmm.  I don't like the way squid tentacles look, so I chopped them up into indistinguishable bits, then considered my counter full of tomatoes.  I got out the eggplant and considered... yep, sauce.  More chopping... onions, garlic, pepper... oregano and basil from the garden... OMG!  I made a wonderful, accidental thing out of food I don't really like.  My dog confirmed my assessment of this sauce.  She danced in ecstatic circles.

The end result is that I have a lot of healthy food, and I spent very little money.  The only part that took any real time was chopping, but somebody else could've used a food processor and have been done in no time.  While I chopped, I thought about young'uns who don't know how to cook.  They're forever dependent on restaurants and processed foods.  That's fattening, expensive, and vitamin-deficient.  They'll never taste calamari eggplant sauce -- which I know they think they don't want, but they're missing out.

I worry about the health of young people.  They don't seem to understand food at all.  They're obviously fatter than they should be.  Okay, I'm fatter than I should be too, but they're fat and malnourished.  Or, they're anorexic or bulimic and malnourished.  They're going to suffer unnecessarily and die too young without money in the bank.

Cooking doesn't have to be hard.  Yesterday, I put a little water in a pot, added Swiss chard, put on the lid, turned on the heat... 10 minutes later, food.  To tell the truth, I grazed on the chard before it was even cooked.  Whatever.  Swiss chard is good for you and really easy.  I have a couple of squashes.  Cut in half, scoop out seeds, bake until soft.  Add butter.  These will go in the freezer too for days that I don't feel like cooking.  I nuked an ear of corn in its husk.  Done.  More butter.

Eat real food.  Stop Monsanto from genetically modifying our food.  Buy local.  Buy what's in season.  Grow something.  Learn to cook.

BTW, I figured out why I've been especially plagued by wildlife this year.  My neighbor a couple doors down used to keep a big garden, but he didn't put one in this year.  I guess it's up to me to feed all the critters.  To make matters worse, my groundhog got a girlfriend.  She's the biggest groundhog I've ever seen, brimming with health, with a shimmering coat.  She eats vegetables.  My vegetables.  I'll admit I took time to admire her and even forgot to send her death rays for a few minutes.  My original groundhog looks at her with absolute adoration.  I dread the inevitable babies, who will also be terribly cute and glistening with (my) vegetable health.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

"Samurai"

There will be a lot of swords in response to "Samurai", so I thought I'd go with armor.  Self-defense is good, and Samurai armor is interesting.  It's light-weight, flexible, and ingeniously designed to baffle weapons.  It certainly beats the heavy steel cans European knights wore.  Japanese soldiers could even perform basic toilet functions without the help of a squire.

While making my samurai armor, I've been thinking about what to say about self-defense.  It's a touchy subject for me because I've been attacked in various ways throughout my life.  Discussing my armor feels like admitting vulnerabilities that I don't want to share.

Yet... being vulnerable is important to communicating.  I listened to a program the other day that talked about how people addicted to their smart phones are more anxious and depressed people than those who aren't glued to their devices.  Think about it, if all you're doing is reading about others' perfect lives and inspirational retweets, or if your sharing is limited to 140 characters, how much of yourself have you shared?  Why would someone care about you?  You haven't given them much to care about.

The same is true with creative expression.  Aren't you touched when a singer breaks down during a song because the lyrics touch something vital inside?  The singer's sobs might cause you to cry too.  The touching lyrics were written about the most moving or painful experiences.  It takes courage to share those feelings.  Whatever your medium, if you want to be great, you've got to be vulnerable.

When you're vulnerable, there will be people who will take that as a sign to attack.  Think of any person who is widely admired and you will find trolls in the margins.  It's a balancing act to be both open and protected.  You don't have to be a movie star to have malicious stalkers.  Maybe they won't shoot you dead as happened to John Lennon, or chase you to your death like Princess Diana, but they can still do their best to make you miserable.  Will others' malicious behaviors still your voice?

It's oft-said that you are unique.  No one else was born with exactly your talents, living in the same time and circumstances.  You have something to express in your own unique way.  Will you?

We have to look at the armor we've grown so accustomed to wearing.  Are we protecting ourselves from others, or are we protecting ourselves from ourselves?  Are we brave enough to let others see what we have inside?  Can we face our own fears?

It seems to me the ideal way to live is akin to samurai armor.  Light-weight and comfortable, it served its purpose without limiting movement.  In other words, you don't have to let all of your vulnerabilities go unprotected.  Have armor, but have armor that lets your light shine through.

Friday, August 25, 2017

"Shoes"

When I was a teenager, I put thumbtacks in the soles of my shoes.  When bored in class, I'd quietly tap dance under my desk.  How many classmates did I irritate?  My tapping started as an accident; I stepped on a thumbtack.  I felt like Quasimodo unevenly tapping down the school hall, so I added a thumbtack to the other shoe.  How many silly things are forever trapped in my brain?  Sometimes it seems endless.

A cicada was loudly advertising his romantic desires the other night.  He was so loud I thought he'd gotten into my bedroom, but no, he was outside.  He must've gotten lucky because he eventually shut up, and I fell asleep.  The next day, I found cicada shells all over my few remaining tomato plants.  I used to wear them as jewelry when I was a little kid.  Now, I feel all ew, ew, ew about touching them, and I thought something's wrong about that.  It's just an empty shell.  So what if it has too many legs?  Who taught me to be creeped out by legs?


I sat down and drew cicada studies.  Once I started looking at them, they're really rather interesting.  They have claw feet and bristles all over their legs, which is why they're so easy to wear as jewelry.  They have ugly faces if you look too closely, but their googly eyes are rather cute.  I simply don't understand how a giant insect can squash itself into such a small, hard shell.  I especially don't understand how it could extract it's antennae from that shell.
I'm procrastinating.  I told you in March that I started a book.  Now it's pretty much written, and I need a spectacular letter which will inspire a publisher to publish it.  I swear, writing the book was easier than writing the letter.

I gave the book to a friend and asked for feedback.  She admitted she wasn't psyched to read it.  For some mysterious reason the topic of Catholicism didn't appeal to her.  There's no accounting for taste.  I drove to New York and actually plugged it into the computer for her (which sounds more impressive than it was since I can get to her house in 2 hours, and it's very pleasant to spend time with her at Lake Chautauqua).

She called this morning to chastise me for keeping her up all night because she couldn't put the book down.  (Yay!!!)  She almost called at 1:30 a.m. because she was "laughing my ass off!"  I don't know if this was actually my goal, but sure, I'll take humorous.  It beats pedantic and dull at any rate.  She gave me more words to put in my letter to the publishers: easy to read, informative, inspirational, scathing, appalling, shocking, mind-blowing, laugh out loud hysterical, disturbing...  I wish she'd write my letter for me.

I'm going to try to get a conventional publisher (let me know if you have any contacts!), but I'll self-publish if that doesn't work out.  Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed!

I suppose I'll have to get back to trying to writing my letter, but now I'm daydreaming about a cicada tap dancing amongst the tomatoes.
Purple beans that turn green when cooked.  The groundhog took this to the ground multiple times.  The only thing that saved it was letting the weeds grow taller than the beans.
Swiss Chard -- the groundhog ate this to the ground many times too so I'm happy to have actual leaves

Spaghetti Squash

Found a living example.  He posed very nicely for me.
You've gotta admit he's kind of cute in his cicada kind of way :)

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Mail"

My great grandfather, Thomas Lafayette Lee, was a mail carrier in the days before cars, and a genealogist before libraries, almost in the days of pounding papyrus on the river bank -- well maybe not that far back.  He was born shortly after the American Civil War on June 9, 1870.  His name tells you something about him; Lafayette for the French aristocrat and military officer who aided the US in the Revolutionary War, and Lee... well, that side of the family has been getting some news in the press lately.

"Cousin" Robert E. Lee was intelligent and heroic, Lincoln's first choice to lead the US military when the Civil War started.  Lee inherited slaves from his wife's father, with instructions to free them within five years.  Lee wrote his son, " He has left me an unpleasant legacy".  Lee had runaways chased and whipped, but he did free them. He was a mixed bag of good and not.  I could say similar about my living relatives.  Maybe they should display the statues of him somewhere to explain the Civil War and how prejudice can end up killing millions of people?  That seems current.

The ultimate choice about the statues belongs to the people who still suffer from the legacy of slavery.  I understand there are Southerners who feel they're still suffering too.  My family lost status and money from being on the wrong side of history, and the South remains comparatively poor with lesser schools and health care.  I get it that there are people who hang their regional pride on the valiant fight Lee led when faced with fewer soldiers and less ammunition.  Hanging onto that isn't getting you anywhere.  Even Lee saw that and surrendered at Appomattox.

When my great grandpa was living in post-Civil War poverty, he got a job.  He wrote a family history, and included a description of his days as a mail carrier, earning $702 per year in 1905.  I'd like to share his story.  This is longer than I usually post, but I thought you might find it interesting too.  Imagine it in a heavy Tennessee accent...

I have had many experiences on my route.  Some were pleasant and some were not so good.  I had a fine bunch of patrons... although some were tough characters...  especially... in the mountain section.  However, some... were as fine a bunch of people as could be found anywhere... I liked them all...

I have been in some hard storms.  One time I had to run my horse to get out from under a falling tree.  One day the lightning struck eighteen times near my route.  I came very near being in one of the worst hail storms this country has ever known.  I just did get into a barn before it struck.  Much of the hail was as large as hen and goose eggs.  These sank into the ground as they fell.  Some went crashing through iron roofing.  There was one cyclone that passed over my route...  I was in the edge of another which did lots of damage to property, but no one was hurt.  I have been caught in rising streams of water, as the rocks were rolling under my horse's feet, and almost knocking them down.  I had to stay in one stream of water for almost half a mile in order to ford it...

One day I heard the sound of a run-away team approaching over a hill, while I was going up the grade on the other side in my buggy.  On they came in their mad rush to get away... and the only thing for me to do was to jump from my buggy without delay.  As they neared me my horse became frightened, and turned back.  Down the road he went, ahead of the run-away team, carrying all my mail, stamps, money and everything, with only myself left behind, and truly glad to be there.  My buggy was torn to pieces.  Most of the harness was torn from the horse.  My mail, money and everything was scattered, a piece here and a piece there.  With the assistance of some of my good patrons, we managed to collect all together... Another loaned me a saddle to ride back on, while others recovered the pieces of my buggy and brought it back...

My buggy was struck twice by cars... but fortunately with no serious results.  I have been thrown from my horse by his falling on me.  One time I was thrown clear over his head, landing in front of him.  Such was life on a rural route in the early days... At first our roads were bad... I rode horseback a big part of eighteen years... I have walked many miles with my mail satchel thrown over my shoulder through mud, sleet, snow and ice, over fields, and just any way to get there...

I loved my patrons and I miss the pleasant association with them.  Scarcely a day passes that my mind doesn't go back to the fond memories of meeting with them at the mail boxes, and our having a few pleasant words together.  Especially is this true of the children, all of whom I loved dearly.

I'm glad Great Grandpa got through his hard times with love in his heart.  You can't move forward when you're clutching the memory of mythological glory days and hate to your chest.

BTW, I've given up my rants about wildlife.  The deer ate all the pears.  They're gone.  That's it.  I'm done screaming like a crazy woman (this year), or at least I thought so until I saw they ate my tomato plants too.

Also, in case I wasn't clear enough about what I think about the KKK and Neo-Nazis, I'll let Trae Crowder express his point of view.  Caution, very coarse language.

Friday, August 11, 2017

"Pizza"

A crazy woman was in my back yard yesterday, sputtering incoherent obscenities while chucking wood at a majestic stag placidly chewing on a pear tree -- not just the precious fruit, he was literally eating the tree, leaves, branches, and all.  Since that crazy woman never got to play on an organized baseball team, the serene majesty of the buck was barely disturbed by flying firewood, but he eventually looked up with a puzzled expression.

The crazy woman did some frantic arm waving, her obscenities became somewhat more defined.  The buck did a deer equivalent of a shoulder shrug and moved over a couple of feet.  It took quite a few more threats and wood to get the deer to daintily hop over the fence where he clearly waited for the crazy woman to go away so he could resume his feast.  Wood got chucked into the neighbor's yard, and the aim started to get somewhat more accurate, by which I mean that the logs passed at least within 10' of the blasted animal's aura before he gave up and went away.  "Take your damned ticks with you!"

My dog stood at the edge of the deck with a look of concern.  I mean really, who wants a crazy woman in their yard?  It's a good thing she doesn't have opposable thumbs to call 911 for the people with straightjackets.

I smashed a carpenter ant with my fist and glared at the groundhog.  At least the groundhog had the grace to scamper when I threw a rock in his general vicinity.  Unlike the insane woman chucking firewood, I can throw rocks.  Anybody who has lived by a river can throw a rock.  However, the groundhog didn't run away, it ran under my back porch where he's created a den for himself.  I'm pretty sure it has an entertainment center with surround sound leaching off my electricity.

Then, the neighbor dogs set off the skunk.  The crazy woman burst into new profanity as she ran around the house slamming windows shut.  It took a while to get the crazy woman out of the house.  She futilely slapped at miniature flies in the kitchen.

The wildlife is winning.  I need to import a pack of wolves or maybe a mountain lion.

That was yesterday.  Today was a new day, and I decided to walk to the library.  The weather was iffy, but I felt like taking the 1+ mile walk.  I left my puppy at home because she maxes out at 1 mile lately.  I wore my hat because even though it was 85% overcast, my pasty white sensitive complexion can get sunburned even at night.

Sure enough, the sun broke out on my way to the library.  It was hot and muggy, really, a terrible day for a midday walk.  I got my book, then noticed the sky was very dark.  My hat felt really stupid about then.  The rain started in fat blobs, and then it got serious.  Cascading sheets of needle-sharp drops came down in a 45° torrent, water sloshed over the tops of my shoes, my heavy jeans got sopping wet.  I felt glad for the hat since I wasn't getting pelted in the face.

I started smiling.  I did the obligatory head bob as I passed a miserable, hatless man sloshing in the opposite direction, his leather business notebook soaked with water.  I started laughing.  I smiled and laughed the rest of the way home.  It isn't just the wildlife that's against me, it's all of nature, but it felt great.  Absolutely fantastic.

I actually had to pour the water out of my shoes when I got home.  Money that had been in my pocket is hung up to dry.  Maybe I'll use it to buy a pizza?  Preferably a pizza with venison sausage and groundhog pepperoni on top.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"Hair"

I went out for drinks with two friends.  One has fluffy hair like Rhea Perlman on Cheers, but she has regular chemical appointments to straighten it.  The other friend has bouncy curls like Shirley Temple.  She straightens her hair with electrical appliances.  My hair is straight.  I often curl it even though the curls fall out in no time.  Nobody else cares very much about our efforts despite the considerable time we've devoted to washing, drying, fluffing, curling, straightening, spritzing, gelling...

I'd pretty much neglected to get a haircut for the last few years and decided it was time for a change and cut it short.  I got into my closet of chemicals and played with colors.  I wasn't making a fashion statement.  I was just playing.  The joy is that it now my hair takes absolutely no effort whatsoever.

I met a group of people at a casual restaurant.  A woman came in, and even before seating herself, loudly asked, "Is that a menopausal haircut or just a summer cut?!"  I resisted asking in return, "WTF is wrong with you??"  I feel like I should point out that my group is mostly men, but it doesn't matter.  A slam between just us girls is still a slam.  Later, she commented we're near the same age.  We aren't.  She's much older, but she often says that even though she's been corrected many times.  I realize her actions are that of an 8th grade bully, but part of me feels like laughing because her effort to make me feel bad is a sign she thinks the haircut looks good.

I met a couple of friends for dinner, and one of them didn't even notice my haircut.  I guess she's seen it short before, but I'm choosing to think she's focused more on my interior than my exterior.  She's a keeper.

The thing is, nobody really cares that much about what you look like.  Although quite a few people have told me that they really like my hair short, I'm absolutely certain that none of them are spending a whole lot of time thinking about it.  Well, maybe people stuck in the 8th grade mentality, but I didn't even care about those opinions when I was in 8th grade.

I'm not so sure I'll keep my hair short, and I'm not so sure about the color either, but I love how easy it is.  I didn't even comb it to take a picture, just running my fingers through it.  That feels great.  I added some blue and feel like a mallard duck with a streak of teal in my feathers (even if it didn't show up very well in the photo).  I'm torn between adding more colors or just dying it all dark the way it grows naturally -- except white seems to be coming in naturally too, and I'm not ready for that yet.  Maybe it is a menopausal haircut?

The thing is, make your own style.  Express yourself in every medium, whether that's hair, work, hobbies...  Whatever floats your boat, bring it into your life and share it with others.  Don't let the criticism or peer pressure of 8th graders steal your happiness.

Fuchsia.  Yeah, I think I'm feeling fuchsia... I'll be a duck on a flower, or maybe a butterfly :)

Friday, July 28, 2017

"Neighbor"

Let me tell you a ghost story.  Well, sort of a ghost story?  I don't really know what to call it.  One of those what-the-hell-I-don't-understand events.

Let me back up.  I had the nosiest neighbor.  She was friendly.  Too damned friendly.  Before you judge me, you have to understand that she sat in her lawn chair, feet from my back door, waiting to pounce on me while blasting country music.  Not the better kinds of CW.  I had to listen to endless twangy repetitions of how the wife left and took the truck and dog but left the kids.  God, I hate country music.

I put up a 12' long privacy fence, just enough to block her direct view of my back door.  She moved her chair 12'.  I added more fence.  She moved her chair back a bit more -- but the "music" originated from the same place.  She just turned up the volume.  I blasted some rock in return.  One time, I was scantily clad while painting the inside of a bedroom window, and she literally shoved half her body through the open window to talk to me.  Do you understand wet paint, bedroom, get out of my house???

It didn't help that she had a large, vicious dog.  She was a hoarder.  She didn't clean.  She wasn't a beauty, and her horribly rotten teeth didn't help.  Sometimes I felt drunk from the wafting beer fumes coming over the property line.  I hate the smell of beer too.

For all of that, sometimes I fell for her friendliness.  Her nosiness was universal, so she told me the dirt on everyone on the street.  She told me all the dirt on herself for that matter, so I doubt she'd care about me talking about her now.  She had a brain tumor removed when she was younger.  Maybe they took out the part that dictates boundaries?  Whatever.  For the most part, we got along well enough.  I just kept adding fence.

One night, the paramedics came and I saw them wheel her out on a gurney.  She sat up and argued with the paramedics before they put her in the ambulance and took her away.  I didn't see her again.  I wondered what happened, but I didn't want to go over to the filthy house to find out.  I might've felt obligated to sit in that house and make nice, and I have bad history of being forced to sit in a different filthy house.  Back then, it was with a certifiably crazy old woman.  I couldn't make myself do the neighborly thing again.

The mailman was often lackadaisical about getting the mail to the right houses, and I got something that looked important for the next-door neighbor's husband.  I handed it over the fence and asked about his wife.  He said she'd died.  I expressed my sympathies, adding, "I didn't think it looked good when they took her away, but since she was arguing with the paramedics I thought maybe she was going to pull through."

He looked at me very oddly and said, "She was already dead when they got here.  I'd been out for the day, and found her dead on the floor when I got home."

To completely change the topic, let me continue my seasonal rant about wildlife.  My dog set off the skunk twice, but thankfully wasn't sprayed.  My pear trees are dripping with fruit, and the damned squirrels are picking them, nibbling a bit, then knocking more pears off the trees to nibble some more.  They do the same thing to the tomatoes.  Why can't they just take one and finish it??  I wish the groundhog would kill the squirrels, then commit suicide.  I made giant balls out of grapevines, and they seem to be working against the deer because they don't like to get their legs tangled up.  I think I'll make more deer balls.  The first of the garden's bounty is starting to come in and I've gotten the canning stuff out again.  Enjoy some summer pics...


Plums, cherry/plum/rhubarb, bread and butter pickles

Squirrel damage

Hoping that I'll get to eat at least some of the pears?

Turnips

Ripe tomatoes which are kind of a green pink brown.  No idea of the variety.
I kept seeds from a salad I enjoyed a couple of years ago.

Jane, this pic's for you :)

My 17-year-old puppy refused to pose by the deer balls to let me show you their size.



Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Sailor"

I've always thought that if I had to serve in the military, I'd choose the Coast Guard.  I could sail around on Lake Erie, pick up drunks who fall out of their boats, and party with Canadians.  I found out they could send you to some other part of the US coastline, and I thought, that's fine.  I could go as far as Chicago or Buffalo.  I abandoned all thoughts of the Coast Guard when I found out they could send you to the Gulf of Mexico or something.  No hablo Espanol, so I doubt I'd enjoy their parties.

There were times when I was a kid that I spent quite a bit of time fantasizing myself to Canada.  As the crow flies, I was only about 5 miles from the lake.  As a fish swims, it's considerably farther down the river, but I could get there eventually.  I sent the Canadians messages in bottles, but the Canadians never called.  I stole the bottles.  The summer people next door had a storage area of such useless junk, and I didn't think they'd miss the bottles.  Maybe the Canadians could sense my theft and their silence is a just karma?

As I pause to consider whether to talk about message bottles or theft, I remember the vividness of a memory that popped into my mind earlier this week.  Jackie, Sis2's friend, stepped on broken glass in the river.  Her foot was sliced very badly, and she did it on the wrong side of the river, downstream of civilization.  My dad picked her up and carried her across the algae-slippery shale riverbed through the rapids, and then all the way home with Jackie weeping blood the entire time.

After they left, I studied the broken glass in the water.  The clear glass blended with the clear water.  Dancing reflections of current camouflaged the shining reflections of the glass.  It was beautiful and dangerous.  I picked it up and threw it into the woods in a place where no one would step on it again.  My parents made a new rule that we had to wear shoes in the river after that, a rule I greatly resented, seldom followed, and probably explains why I lost so many shoes.

Why do I remember this so clearly?  And why did this moment pop into my mind so vividly this week?

I tracked my associated memories for a connection.  Older boys drank beer and threw their bottles across the river, laughing at the shattering sound, never considering a child's sliced foot.  Perhaps their thoughtless, selfish, stupid behavior was stirred in my memory as I see the same kind of behavior in politicians or some people I know?  Maybe I feel guilt at all those messages to Canadians sent in stolen glass bottles?  Maybe there's a danger I can't see through glittering reflections?

Six years ago, I wrote another post about sending negative thoughts down the river in paper boats.  You can see it here.  Creating that post seems as clear in my mind as Jackie's bleeding foot.  I think everything we've experienced is still in our heads somewhere, and sometimes I wonder why.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Ice Cream"

It was a beautiful summer day -- deep blue sky, tall forest looming overhead, screaming, laughing Girl Scouts running in circles, and the "Shooush!" of rock salt getting thrown off the back end of a pick up truck.  I was standing at the wrong place at the wrong time, and had to help lug the rock salt to the designated area.  Rock salt is heavy.  More things had to be moved.  I didn't understand what any of it was.  I just cooperated while the other girls continued to happily run around in circles.

Wooden buckets were packed with rock salt and ice.  Cream and sugar were poured into a metal cylinder.  Vanilla in one cylinder, chocolate in another.  A metal collar (wo)manhandled across the top of the contraption, and a handle banged onto one side.  "We're going to make ice cream!" the troop leader exclaimed.  Great!  I love ice cream!

Girl were called from play to sit on top of the buckets, and more girls were assigned to turn the handles.  Excellent.  Girl Scouts are great at teamwork.  I turned the handle for a few minutes.  "Is it ready now?"  No, it was not.  It became a relay effort of handle turning; I'm pretty sure we turned the handles for at least 4 hours.  Maybe 5?  Time is different when you're a child.  What I know is that it took forever.

It was the best ice cream of my life.  Specks of vanilla were peppered throughout.  It was so sweet, so creamy, so hard-won, but with a troop of girls, it was quickly gone.

We packed the buckets up again, churned the buckets again, ate strawberry ice cream with super red, super sweet berries plastered throughout.  I don't know what was in the other bucket.  Who would eat another flavor when you can have strawberries?  Forget what I said about the vanilla being the best ice cream I've ever had.  That strawberry ice cream was the best.

Of course, we did it again.  I was starting to suspect that the troop leader's plan was to work us all to exhaustion.  I think she succeeded.  I quit eating ice cream when the choice became pineapple.

Night fell in the forest.  Mosquitoes came out.  We built the essential bonfire and sang campfire songs.  It was a wonderfully perfect day.

By coincidence, I was thinking about ice cream when I went to the grocery store.  I wanted to buy Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia.  Full test -- don't insult ice cream with low fat, or try to pull one over on me with yogurt disguised as ice cream.  $5.79?!!!  You're kidding me, right?!!!  I am not going to pay that much for a tiny tub of ice cream.

But now, the word for the week is "ice cream", and I don't have any.  It just feels so wrong.  I may have to go to the store again.  Well, I know I have to go back.  This was my shopping list:  dog food, soap.  Can you guess which 2 items I neglected to get when I spent $120+ at the store today?  I think my revised shopping list is now dog food, soap, and ice cream.

BTW, I fussed around with this art more than you'd know by looking at it because in the end, I deleted most of what I'd done.  Sometimes that has to happen.  I decided I just felt like having a happy bookmark :)