Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back in the Groove

Trying to shake that holiday lethargy and get back to painting diligently. Here's my entry for the Fifth Ave Art Gallery's show beginning January 9th called "Tropical Winter." My painting is "Crossed Palms."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Toss Those Jackets

I have to appreciate Florida after being in northern Pennsylvania, where my family is now snowed in. How lucky we are here! Here's a warm little picture of one of our beautiful sunrises.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow Angels

Went to Pennsylvania last week for a picture perfect visit with our family there. It started snowing when we arrived, and was deep and beautiful when we left. Our family lives on top of a hill with a view from each window, so I had plenty of photo opportunities. On one little drive I got to experience spotting a deer, taking pictures of snow under a full orange moon, and a little drama involving three trucks pulling out a fully loaded milk truck that was stuck. Just an everyday occurrence there. Farming equals lots of work. It was like being in a Christmas card for several days.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday Ups and Downs

We had a very nice Thanksgiving in spite of the fact I came down with a cold the day before. I took Cold-Eeze all day long, felt horrible, but on Thanksgiving I was fine. I think I have discovered the cure for the common cold. I never got well so fast.

I saw a show about long-lived people, and the Okinawans are notable among them. Apparently they all say a prayer, or a chant, "Hara Hachi Bu," before they eat. This tells them to eat 80%, instead of gorging themselves 100% to fullness. My family didn't go for it, especially my husband, who ate 150%.

What is a bargain worth on Black Friday? Apparently, a human life. Shoppers at a Wal-Mart trampled a clerk to death in order to save a few bucks. I want followup to this story; how do they feel today? How about on Christmas day? My Ninth-Grade Civics teacher taught us that a mob has no brain. My suspicion is that these people have no brain individually, either. And perhaps no conscience.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Profound Sayings

My son taught me a new factoid the other day. All this time I thought the saying, "The Good Lord willing and the Creek don't rise" was a reference to a stream of water. But no, it is a quote from Andrew Jackson about the Creek Indians possibly having an uprising. Therefore, the grammar is correct after all, "Creek" being plural. I live for these things.

Today I am having a pity party because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am the cook and I have a horrid cold; my nose is stuffy, my eyes runny, my throat hurts, my head hurts...but you know me, I can't complain.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This is my sister's fabulous dog, Betsy.


I don't pay too much attention to commercials, and I love my DVR, because I can fast forward past them, but this morning one got through. It's the Chase Credit Card commercial, and the jingle says, "I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now." Now, isn't that the whole problem with the economy right now? I want it whether I can pay for it or not, I just want it now. Put that together with unrealistic views of the ability to pay for it and greedy lenders, multiply that millions of times, and you have the mess we're in now. And let's not forget the CEOs who just can't get enough wealth, they want it ALL, and they want it NOW. A worker is not a human being, he or she is a unit of work, as dispensable as a rusty nail. CEOs of failing companies should all be sentenced to live for a month on a worker's salary and see how well they manage. They have the only jobs where you can perform extremely poorly and still take home obscene bonuses. But don't get me started...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ye Olde Nigerian Scam

My first email this morning was from a guy in the UK wanting to rent our duplex. He saw it on Craigslist. He will have a check sent to our bank for $6950, and we will take out our move-in deposit ($1500) and send the rest to his "decorator", who will make our little 2-bedroom rental fit his discriminating taste. I can't believe people are still falling for this, but they must be or he wouldn't have tried it. The second email I opened was an artist's newsletter, where he reported the same scam, but this time the person wanted to buy a piece of expensive art. The person could barely write English. The Nigerian Scam is alive and well, apparently. If you receive such an email, go to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, at http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

This is my Public Service Announcement.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Painting Food

Paint what you love, right? One of my favorite things is food, and I like to paint it too. I've been doing some little food paintings lately, and it is a lovely way to "repurpose." I paint it, then I eat it. Isn't that a good way to Go Green? This is a little 5 x 7, and it was delicious.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More from South Carolina

River of Tears

I'm very excited because I have been included in a very significant project. I was one of the artists selected for the Art and Addiction exhibit sponsored by Innovators Combating Substance Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Medicine. Sixty-five were chosen from 900 entries. After the art was exhibited in May and June, a calendar was made to be circulated to professionals working in the substance abuse field, and to foundations supporting treatment and prevention centers. My painting, River of Tears, was one of the 13 used in the calendar. This has been such a meaningful project. Here are my words that accompanied my entry:

"My father gave up his fight against alcoholism by taking his own life. In the River of Tears are those most affected by his act: his children, wife, and mother. How many rivers of tears have been shed because of addiction? Each tear in the background of my painting represents a family member whose demise was hastened by his or her own addictions."

And I must qualify that by saying that cigarettes have been more deadly for my family than any other substance.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spring Island Painting

Here is a little painting of a well-preserved slave house on Spring Island. It's astonishing to think how barbaric some Americans were in the not-that-distant past, and I think that's why we should keep reminders like this little house, so that we can aim for a higher level of the National character. It was all about money, just as the recent rampant greed on Wall Street was, and when it's all about money no good comes of it. People are still trafficking in humans today, and the sick, sick thought is, there are still customers.

Weird Week

My head is spinning. Deaths in in-law's families this week, very sad. Got to see my grandchildren from Memphis, who just dazzled me with their brilliance. They are also very funny, and such talented artists. Anime' apparently is a great teacher of figure drawing. My 16-year-old granddaughter can draw figures in any pose, including very foreshortened ones. She's way ahead of where I was at her age!

Watching the economy reach scary lows and wondering where the bottom is. They let the fox watch the henhouse and were surprised when the chickens disappeared. Now if people would just realize that art increases in value...there must be a slogan there...Appreciate Art, Because Art Appreciates?

Voted early yesterday. It was raining, it was early morning, yet there were long lines. Pretty exciting. My county in Florida uses those ballots where you blacken an oval with a pen. It works. Why doesn't everyone do that? If we can only get through one election without my state held up for ridicule...come on, Florida, you can do it!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Artist's Lament

There once was an artist named Lil,
Whose creative juices stood still.
She consulted her Muse,
Then she pondered her shoes,
And then got up to dust off the sill.

(And we've all been there.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Making Art in the Marshes

Just returned from Spring Island, SC, where I went with my peeps, the Pieces of 8. A fabulous time was had by all (staying in a house complete with pond and real alligator off the back deck), eating, relaxing, and painting the marshes. It was hot, muggy, and beautiful, and we couldn't wait to get there every day to paint. We didn't suffer too much--there was a clubhouse that provided refreshments and the covered dock had fans. It's amazing how the marshes change before your eyes. The light changed because we had storm clouds come and go, and the tide did a big mud reveal as it receded. Our annual artists' retreat is our chance to immerse ourselves in art all day every day--if we aren't making art we're talking about art. It's the only way to eliminate those distractions of everyday life, like pulling weeds and getting groceries. This year none of us fell out of a boat and I only stepped in my palette once. Now we need to paint those marshes larger and see if we can recall the emotion of being there.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


This is a small painting, 9 x 12, of one of our glorious sunrises here on the Space Coast. I love to sit on the beach and photograph each stage of sunrise, with the changing light and the constantly moving water. Even the sand on the beach changes as the sun makes its slow rise above the Earth. In spite of hurricane panics, I love living in such a beautiful place.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Farewell, Hanna; Hello, Ike

Here we go again. And Ike is very scary. Hanna is dumping wind and rain on us right now (6:53 am Friday).

Here is what I wrote after Hurricane Floyd, in which we were trapped in a motel room with no power or water. It's called "The Hurricane Diet."

Two days before evacuation, prepare a hurricane kit that includes many batteries, first aid and nearly inedible canned meats.

Worry so much that you lose your appetite.

Work hard at packing up, preparing the outside of your house, etc. Sweat a lot.

Evacuate late and stay in a line of cars for eight hours. Don’t stop to eat, because it’s too hard to get back in line.

Settle in to your hotel.

If the storm turns your way, stock up on the same prison food you bought for home.

Hole up in your room without electricity or water and survive on Spam Spread, crackers, and bananas. You won’t eat much. It’s too disgusting.

When you head home, enjoy the air-conditioning in your car and recharge the cell phone.

Upon arriving home, start clearing debris. You will lose many pounds in the exercise known as the Debris Haul. It will be hot and humid and the pounds will melt off.

The Snake Jog is very beneficial for raising the heart rate and tightening leg muscles. Your high jump is worthy of the NBA.

After a few days of no electricity or fresh drinking water, you will notice quite a difference. You will be slimmer in spite of living on Vienna Sausages and food cooked on the grill. Your thinking will be dulled and you will be chock full of nitrites, but who cares? Check out that girlish waist!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Cone of Uncertainty

Here we are again, watching Tropical Storm Hanna traipsing across the Atlantic, and the forecasters have a new scary term, "The Cone of Uncertainty," which spreads across my house, of course, in their forecast. That's what I hate about this season: uncertainty. Imagine those people who leave New Orleans on the bus with one suitcase. What's in it? What do we treasure most that would fit in one suitcase? I hope they are spared this time, but it's not looking good. I think it's time hurricanes had less benign names. They should be called "Terminator" or "Psycho." My grandmother used to pace and wring her hands when a storm was coming. I may try that. It might help.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Smoky Mountain Memory

We recently went to Tennessee, a place that tugs at my heartstrings, and I'm reliving it with these scenes from the Smokies.

This waterfall was tucked away on a shady dirt road.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Seas Were Angry That Day, My Friend

...to quote George on "Seinfeld." We started experiencing the Not-a-Hurricane Fay on Tuesday, and we are finally, on Friday, down to the last bands of rain. There has been tremendous flooding in our town, but my house is high and dry. We're so fortunate! Snakes, gators and fish are in places they shouldn't be, but the waters are receding and things may soon be back to normal. The surf looks very brown and dirty. I walked on the beach this morning with my camera and got lots of closeups of birds. They were just standing around, exhausted, and didn't care if I walked right up to them. They had the attitude of "I haven't got another flap left in me."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Waiting for Hurricane Fay

Well, here we go again. This is our wakeup call, just 60 mph winds predicted (so far) and lots of flooding and tornado warnings. It's been four years since we were slammed by hurricanes Jeanne and Frances in rapid succession, and I've let myself get very complacent instead of getting into the frantic preparation mode of past years. I think it's partly because every time I look for something, it's in the Hurricane Box. Now they have come up with a new lame idea for safeguarding important papers: mail them to a friend or relative. If it's small enough to fit in a flat rate box, it's small enough to carry away in your car as you evacuate!

Good things about hurricanes: You get to know your neighbors better.
Bad things about hurricanes: Everything else.

I remember a hurricane hitting my grandmother's house when I was very young, and everyone was so serious, I knew it was a very bad thing. My grandmother said that when she was in a hurricane in her first house, way out in an orange grove, the wind lifted the linoleum off the floor. Florida houses were set on large blocks up off the ground back then, to keep them cool. They were called Cracker Houses, and the one I grew up in is still standing. It's over 100 years old.

Wish we'd thought to go to Blockbuster...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Somber Mural

I painted this mural a couple weeks ago. It was hidden until today at River Run Christian Church in Eau Gallie, FL. At the end of a series of sermons about the Seven Deadly Sins, they turned around the boards to reveal the mural on the back, then I went up and painted the blood.

Between the music and what I was doing, I got very emotional. Some people told me they couldn't sing because they were choked up. It was a very gratifying thing to do and I'm honored that they asked me to do it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"The Masters' Pieces," paintings by the Pieces of 8, compiled by Cindy Michaud

The perfect gift for an art lover, “The Masters’ Pieces” is our original collection generated by copying techniques of some of the greatest artists ever to live. Click on the book for info on how to order.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Whitewater Grannies

Last September seven members of the Pieces of 8 drove to the mountains of North Carolina for an artist’s retreat (the serious definition) and fun (the real definition). Member Carol Schiff generously invited us to be her guests at her second home in the mountains, not far from Cherokee and at the edge of the Smokies. We were Jini, Suzanne, Carol, Denette, Donna, Mary, and me. Member Cindy Michaud couldn’t make it.

Carol’s house is nestled on the side of a mountain, with a little creek below. It’s a wonderful location, and we happily hiked to waterfalls, went on a pontoon boat, swam in clear waters with no alligators (quite a treat), and toured the Cherokee Village. All along we sketched and painted, and took valuable reference photos.

On Monday Carol, Donna, Denette and I decided the Nantahala River was calling to us to go whitewater rafting. Off we went, ready to experience eight miles of rapids. We rented a boat that we now realize was too big for us—a five-man boat, not a four-woman boat—and we climbed on the bus to go upriver after watching a safety video.

We put the boat in, practiced a little, and off we went. After getting stuck on rocks a couple of times, we really got in sync as a team, with Denette at the rudder. We could go forward, we could, spin, we had it down.

Soon we became complacent and began to gloat about how good we were. We congratulated ourselves for being the only women on the river alone, and certainly the other grandmothers, and we were already planning our post-rafting celebration. We passed two blue boats that kept getting in our way; they were the size of ours and loaded with Spanish-speaking people.

It was exhilarating. We paddled for three hours and never felt so good. I felt blessed to be with three plucky women who are up for anything.

Nearing the end, we saw a big sign over the river that said, “BUMP.” We all said, “What’s a Bump? A river has a Bump? Ha ha ha.” We saw a big rock ahead and paddled right to avoid it. The current caught us immediately past the rock, we turned sideways, and we found out what a bump was. It’s a small waterfall with a “slot” at the bottom for a raft to fall into and stand up on its side. I was shocked to see Donna fly out of the boat and I reached out for her and found that I was also flying out of the boat. I saw Denette fly over us, and Carol bobbed up.

Carol, who actually paid attention during the safety briefing, yelled, “Do the swimmer’s float!” (They could have mentioned the Bump). The swimmer’s float involves turning your feet downstream and floating on your back. Donna and I were in shallow water and couldn’t get turned over, so we grabbed for rocks and after about 30 feet we got hold of some angular ones and pulled ourselves out of the water. It took every ounce of strength I had, but the presence of the big rapids down the river was very inspiring.
Downriver I saw a yellow line being thrown to Denette, and Carol (who paid attention in the safety briefing) successfully got herself to shore. When I got out of the water, Donna was sitting on a rock downstream and she and I were stranded on the wrong side of the river. I’ve never been more glad to see three people alive and well! Denette was yelling “Where are my GIRLS? Go get my GIRLS!” What a good skipper.

The boat just sat in the slot, trapped by the hydraulics. And who rescued us? The Latinos we passed on the river. They tried to get the boat loose but it went home without us, along with the paddles and two hats.

When we all were back together, Donna said, “There’s no bonding experience like facing Death together!”

We walked down past the big rapids we never reached by boat, and saw a burly guy pop out of his boat, making us feel a tiny bit better. In retrospect, we should have had helmets and a smaller boat.

Surprisingly unscathed, we all kept our shoes on, my waterproof camera was still attached to me, and we had no injuries. I asked people in the souvenir store if anyone ever died on the river and they said, “Not for a couple of years…just the one last year, but that was a heart attack.” Hm. Is that all. If we’d been injured, the headline in the paper would have been, “Grandmothers Injured in Whitewater Incident,” not “Artists Injured…” or “Women Injured…”. It’s always “Grandmother Foils Burglar” even if Granny is 42.

The final humiliation: in the locker room there was a photo of a boat full of nuns smiling as they went over the final rapids. The priest sat in the middle as they paddled like mad.

I have to say that I have gone whitewater rafting on a different river, with real safety procedures and they automatically issue a Guide and a helmet. It was fun, it was safer, but nothing will ever be as exhilarating as our wild ride down the Nantahala. Eight miles of screaming good fun!