Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy New Year! (plus a chicken update)

Neighboring Pond, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Been meaning to post for a few days, but to be honest I have been enjoying some time off from the computer, and from trying to think of some fascinating and witty things to write about. Heh.

We have all just been hanging around the house, staying up late, sleeping in (well, late for me is 7am, for everyone else it is 10am!) doing jigsaw puzzles and playing with our new toys. By the way I love doing jigsaw puzzles. I only do them once a year, usually around or just after the holidays. I would love to do them more often, but I feel guilty thinking of all the other things I should be doing. So I allow myself a few weeks in the winter. It's definitely an activity where the process is why I do it, the finished images are usually quite a letdown. Even the nice ones still look, well, they still look like a jigsaw puzzle when they are done.

Oh and I have a really thrilling chicken update. We have already had quite a bit of snow and cold weather this winter so the chickens have been pretty cooped up, not even able to leave their hen house let alone their little yard. The last few days have been milder and they have been outside, so I have been able to get a good look at them. The other day I noticed that one of them had blood all over her bottom, just dripping out of her vent (where the eggs come out of). And when there is blood chickens turn into cannibals! She had a line of chickens following her, pecking at her bottom, making it worse. So she is temporarily living in our garage until she heals up. Then yesterday, I noticed that our Naked Neck chicken had a big laceration on her chest, with stuff coming out, (it's like a bad movie, seeing that). She was acting fine, walking around, eating, etc, but today I noticed that it is bleeding a bit and she is now being followed around by the "peckers". So I guess she will also be a guest in our garage as well, but I have no idea what to do about that injury. I think she needs stitches! And Doug thinks I am crazy to even consider taking her to the vet. I guess we'll see if the cut heals up on it's own (doubtful as it is gaping open), otherwise I guess we may have to euthanize-especially if more stuff comes out.


And on that lovely note, I wish you all a Happy New Year! I suspect I will be sleeping when the big moment comes, unlike when I was young and chose to party in a bar all night. But I hope that at least a few of you out there will be doing something fun on New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Books

Wrap Around, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Today I am basking in the glow of a very lovely last few days with my family. Our time was spent finishing the stupid Christmas puzzle, watching silly movies, wrapping gifts, baking (I ate way too many frosted sugar cookies, bad girl!) and just hanging out.

My studio was quiet and nearly forgotten, poor thing. But my fabulous husband gave me two books which will ease me back into work over the next few days. One was a book about Monet, which is quite different than the other book of his work that I have. This one shows the details of his business-sales records, receipts, influences, travels, personal papers like letters and photographs, it is so amazing to see those items and it's good to be reminded that even artists like Monet had to deal the with the more humdrum things like paperwork.

The other is a wonderful book about Richard Diebenkorn. I have been a fan of his work and am now especially interested in his figurative work as I am thinking that I will be focusing on that while I am at the Vermont Studio Center in February. Anyway, this book describes his background and the images of his work are just amazing.

And for my birthday a few weeks ago, Doug gave me a book of etchings, mostly portraits, by Lucian Freud. It too has been very inspiring, if a bit disturbing. Which I love, by the way.

I have another laid back day ahead of me, although I do plan to putter around in the studio a bit. Even though I am finished painting, I do need to paint the panel cradles and put hangers on about ten pieces. And as I have now learned from Monet, there is always the paperwork to do.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Flatland, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

I was assuming that I would be working pretty much through Christmas and right up until I have to deliver everything to the gallery in the first few days of January. However, after looking at my list of finished pieces I think I can safely say I am done! Yayyy! I guess I was in such a painting frenzy that I lost track of where I was. And there have been so many interruptions to my studio time, I just assumed that I hadn't gotten enough work done. I had four pieces finished before I got sick in November, plus seven that were at the underpainting stage. In the last three weeks, I finished those seven, plus eight more, including a 36x48 piece. So all of those, plus four that came back from another show and which fit in perfectly with the new group gives me a very healthy twenty three paintings for a solo show. I am tempted to do one more large landscape as I feel the group is a bit heavy on barns, but that might just be showing off. Heh.

It's good to know that I can pull together enough work for a show in a month but I do need to make an effort to NOT cut it quite so close, because things can happen (like pneumonia) to throw me off. On the other hand, I work better and can create a more cohesive group of paintings if I do everything that I can in a mad rush of creativity and energy. So a balance must be achieved, with work and life.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The One Where I Keep Plugging Away

My Blue Barn, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x9

Well, I think that posts may be a bit more infrequent here in the next few weeks. Everything is converging in the next week; the holidays, finishing up the work for January's show plus a myriad of other activities such as holiday chorus concerts and plays, mundane but necessary paperwork, and putting together the dang family holiday card! At this point I will just be happy if I can get the stupid things postmarked by the 24th. Of course, WE have received many holiday cards from people who are either super organized or who have nothing else to do in November but to mail out their cards. Heh. Anyway, I humbly bow down to all of those people.

However, this is the second year that I have had a solo show scheduled for January and while at first I wasn't too thrilled about the fact that I would have to work pretty hard well into December, there is also a silver lining to that. It has forced me (and our family) to simplify our holidays quite a bit. There is less time for shopping for things that the kids don't really need (or will even look at within a month), I have learned to hand over decorating the tree to the kids, who fully enjoy that process and although I like putting lights up on our porch, in the last two years I have found that Christmas still comes whether they are up or not.

The activities we have kept up with are the ones we all can pitch in and do; baking, making gifts, wrapping them, attending the concerts and other activities and cleaning the house. Well, maybe not that last one so much, but if there is ever a shot that I can get the kids to pick up their stuff without asking twice, it is now.

And while the ever increasing commercialism and consumerism makes me more uncomfortable each year, it has not escaped my attention that both Doug and I are totally contributing to it by creating things that are intended for sale. I am not sure I can ever fully reconcile those opposing beliefs, but I hope that by simplifying our lives we can somewhat offset what we do for a living.

It's the best I can do right now.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Open House

Farm Structures, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

I have had a busy few days which is why I haven't posted since last week. Despite the fact that I am frantically trying to finish up work for my show in January, and still have much to do to get ready for the holidays, oh like, you know, go shopping for gifts for the kids, Doug and I decided to have some people over for a bit of a holiday thing. Since I lost three days in the studio, this decision proves that I could be somewhat unbalanced. Heh.

I spent all day last Thursday, cleaning out my studio (everyone likes to see my studio) and sorting through a lot of junk and also through what seemed liked a million paintings that have come back, unsold, from various galleries. I learned that the world will not stop rotating if I throw a few lousy paintings into the garbage. We also cleaned the house. Well the downstairs anyway.

Friday, I did some baking, while Doug shoveled the driveway, by hand, because naturally we had had a good snowstorm on Thursday and we have been really lame about buying a snowblower or hiring someone to plow us out whenever it snows.

Saturday was a really enjoyable day, with many visitors, a warm fire, food, drink and the occasional embarrassing song playing through the stereo on my ipod (I confess to owning more than a few one hit wonders from the seventies), and I even sold a few of the paintings that had been returned from the galleries and were sitting around waiting for "their people" to find them. I was exhausted after all of this so it was lucky that we had yet another snowstorm on Sunday and I didn't have to actually go anywhere. The girls and I worked on a really tacky Christmas themed jigsaw puzzle all day.

Thanks to everyone for coming by, it was fun!

PS. I am also exceedingly happy to now have a clean studio to get back to work in. There are actually empty surfaces!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tagged 2x

Opening, 2007, Oil on Panel, 5x7
Natalya tagged me way back in October and what with all the illness going on around here, I plumb forgot to do a post listing five things about myself. And then Stephen Magsig tagged me the other day. I don't normally like getting tagged however, post topics have been a bit harder to come by lately so so I figured what the heck. Although I am struggling to find five things that I haven't already disclosed here, I am going to give it a shot. Oh and I know I am cheating by condensing two tags into one. So sue me.

1. I absolutely hate cucumbers! Doug and I have been together long enough to have a system though, whenever I get a salad in a restaurant that has any cucumbers on it, he immediately removes them AND the surrounding items, because the flavor of what you hate always migrates.

2. I have the ability to make my shoulder blades protrude several inches out of my back. This was an excellent thing to do to impress the boys at the bar back in my younger days. And I have passed this talent on to two of my kids. They are so lucky. Heh.

3. I hated my hometown (Rochester, MN) so much that I moved to Minneapolis within days of graduating from high school. It was a good move to get away, however ironically, after living in all kinds of different places, we have settled in a town that is pretty much a smaller version of Rochester.

4. This one is a real shocker: I have always for as long as I can remember, wanted to be an artist. I have had a few other interests along the way; writing, working with handicapped people, and have had a few detours, most notably motherhood, but wanting to paint has always been a part of me. Well, that and being able to belt it out like Janis Joplin on stage!

5. Even though it's been 22 years, whenever I see the scene near the end of the movie Witness where the little boy rings the bell and all of the Amish neighbors come to help, I cry. Every. Single. Time. In fact that is the sort of thing that almost always makes me cry, is seeing or reading about people helping each other.

Ok, that's it. And now for the really hard part, tagging others.

Nat Dickinson
Kesha Bruce
Sheree Rensel
Angela Rockett
Gary Rith

I apologize in advance if any of you have been tagged recently, or if you prefer not to participate. Believe you me, I understand.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cracked Ice

Road to Nowhere, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

A lovely cozy day around the house today. We had an ice storm last night, so no school for the kids. Everyone is working on various projects and Doug and I are even getting some work done. It's incredibly beautiful outside, but treacherous too. I went out to tend the chickens and as I slid across the road and over the snow it cracked under my feet like ice on a lake. Our pathetic little sledding hill has transformed into a major speedway and we have had at least one (minor) injury there today.

I suppose someone should go out and shovel or something but sitting by the fireplace is just too perfect today and so we will just hope the temperature will go up just enough to make slush by tomorrow. Don't have to feel guilty about a driveway full of slush.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Story About One of the Things I am Reminded of Each Year on My Birthday

Donny Osmond Pictures, Images and Photos
When I was in third grade I was totally in love with Donny Osmond. He was cute, happy and could sing and dance, plus his favorite color (purple) was my favorite color. But the thing that really tied us together was the fact that our birthdays were just days apart. Mine is December 6 (today) while his is December 9. Somehow that seemed really meaningful. What can I say? I was desperately looking for connections.

Anyway, my friend Katie and I sent letters to him (including our school photos) where I highlighted our special bond. She received a response (probably a form letter) AND a signed publicity photo. I got nothing and I was so devastated. Now I know that the responses were probably totally random but at the time I was sure that Katie got a letter back because she was a beautiful girl, while I was, well I wasn't.

My crush on Donny ended (painfully) and I moved on to Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy and then eventually on to a few real life (and also unattainable) boys.

Years passed, poor Donny became a joke and my life got worse, then better. I met Doug and then Donny released an album in 1989 that I really liked and it served as a pretty good comeback for him. He did a tour and in an interesting twist of fate, did a concert in Philadelphia in 1989, on my birthday. I told Doug that THAT was what I wanted to do for my birthday and because he was totally in love with me, we went. I should add here that Doug used to follow the Dead around in the 70's and actively eschewed popular culture. So it was a big deal for him to go to this concert and he got a lot of ribbing from his friends.

But the concert was great! Even Doug admitted it and I was a bit surprised myself. Donny had a really funky band, with a killer back up singer, he made fun of himself (he sang a kind of hip hop version of One Bad Apple and then stopped in the middle, said "No" and began a new song) and he was very engaging as a performer. I forgave him that night for the letter incident in third grade, although I didn't go so far as to stand down in front, jump up and down while holding an I Love You sign, screaming "Donny, Donny" like some women did. I am not that kind of girl.

Life went on. Donny found new success performing in musicals and eventually, in another interesting twist of fate, Doug and I moved to Utah, home to the Osmond family, including Donny! Wow! Actually, I didn't really care but it did seem mildly ironic at the time.

Donny and I had one more connection (unbeknownst to him, of course) in Utah. Around 1999 or so, Doug found himself standing next to Donny in a line at the Salt Lake City airport. They chatted a bit (Doug is very personable) and Doug mentioned that I had been a fan of his back in the 70's and that we had also seen him perform in 1989. He was just getting around to asking for an autograph for me when a woman came up to them and began to talk excitedly to Donny, then proceeded to nearly hyperventilate. Doug said that my Donny was very kind to her, helped her calm down, and signed some autographs. Doug politely bowed out of the mayhem and I missed out again.

This time it didn't sting at all, although an autograph would have been an appropriate ending to our my story. Even though Donny and I were never meant to be, the third grader in me still thinks that there still might be a chance and I am reminded of that each year on "our" birthdays.....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On Track Again

Snowy Hill, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x12

Well, I have been very productive in the studio this week, despite my nervousness at getting back to painting. I have (nearly) finished a few very small ones, 5x7 or so, three 12x16 panels, and one 12x16 that looks a bit iffy. There is always at least one spoilsport.

Today, Doug went down to the city for the first time in several weeks and I enjoyed having the house to myself. I wasted time worked on the computer for a bit and then made some blueberry muffins. Finally around noon I got to work and I actually got quite a bit done this afternoon. I put color down on six more pieces, four 9x9's, one 16x20 and one 18x24. They all looked pretty good after the first pass, although I will have to double check that tomorrow!

So I am feeling pretty good about having enough mid-size pieces ready for the show in January. Next week I will start on a few larger sized paintings, 24x36 and up.

This evening I had to go pick up two of the kids at the local sports center. No big deal, I do it almost everyday. Except that I haven't been doing it for awhile. I haven't driven a car for about three weeks and I confess to feeling a bit mixed up when I got into the driver's seat. And to top it all off, the roads are really bad here! We have had quite a bit of snow and ice over the last few days and even with my 4 wheel drive I was worried about sliding off the road. I drove like an old lady though and even though it took forever, we all got home safely.

Next up: getting back to my daily walk. Not that I was actually doing it daily before I got sick, but you know, it's always a goal. Heh.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It's My Obsession

Pay It Forward Images, 2007, Oil on Panel, each are 4"x6"

Mixed in with the last batch of work I did before I got sick several weeks ago, were the paintings for the Pay It Forward project. I figured I better get them done right away otherwise I'd be freaking out trying to get them out next year at this time! Of course it may take me that long to get it together to get them shipped out anyway.

I decided to go with one of the images that I have been obsessing about for the last few years-one that I have now painted in nearly every size, from 48"x60" to 4"x6". I am very happy with how these turned out, and now I have all kinds of ideas about what to do next with this image.

My obsession is not over yet.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Back To It

Drive Through, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Today was pretty much a normal day. I did the chicken chores (in a snowstorm), I sat at my computer most of the morning (not exactly what I should be doing, but a completely normal manner of procrastination before I was sick), worked in the studio in the afternoon, plus I made dinner and did a few loads of laundry. I can't say that I am full of energy or anything, but I am feeling pretty good finally.

An interesting thing though about getting back to work. I worked for a few hours on Sunday afternoon doing some underpaintings, first time back in three weeks, and it was tough! I was nervous at first, my hands were actually shaking and it took me awhile to get into a groove. I was close to it towards the end however, and even though I didn't have the usual exhilaration that I normally have after starting a bunch of underpaintings, I felt pleased. And relieved. Today, I started with color on some underpaintings that I did before I got sick and it was the same thing. Nervous then I gradually settled in. I think tomorrow will be better. And the work I accomplished was good.

I have found that going back to work after something happens (like after my mom died) is surprisingly difficult, maybe because that is when I really want and need the comfort of painting. Going back to work after taking an extended regular old break isn't quite so tough and isn't so emotionally challenging. Everything looks different after an event that keeps me away from work and perhaps the desperation to go back to the familiar skews all of it. Ultimately, though I am not worried. There is always something to be gained from life's experiences, even if it takes awhile to figure out what the lesson is. In the meantime, my discipline will carry the day.

I am still going to go to bed early tonight though.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Incrementally Better Today

The Farm Up the Hill, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Well, I have been spending my days resting. Or trying to. I do actually nap a bit during the day, mostly because I wake at night because of the cough. Even though I don't consider myself to be a high energy person, just sitting around all day is really hard for me. So I still get up every so often and do some small chore, just to keep moving a bit. I did catch up on some paperwork yesterday, in bed, while watching TV, so that made me feel somewhat productive. And I have been able to get in some reading and knitting into my busy schedule.

I am trying NOT to think about how screwed I am if I can't back to the studio next week.

Oh and I have been meaning to recommend a new blog that I have been interested in lately. Sustainability is an important topic these days and I think it's great that artists are taking it on as well. I am very careful about the waste generated from my work, as well as recycling and using more natural products whenever possible. I will talk about the specifics of all that in a future post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

And When Bad News is Bad (Or Could Be Worse)

Long Row, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x18

So it turns out that even if one considers oneself to be healthy, meaning that one seldom gets sick with colds or flu or stomach bugs, or eats organic foods, drinks only water and doesn't smoke or take drugs, and exercises (though maybe not as much as one should) that doesn't actually mean one will NEVER get hit with a double whammy flu/pneumonia combination.

I was starting to feel better over the weekend, but just a bit, not as much as I should have at that point. But still no new symptoms, just the cough and being tired. But then Monday evening I was REALLY wiped out and also noticed that my breathing had changed. Short and shallow breaths, just after walking from one room to another. And that was my sign to go in and get checked out for pneumonia, which despite having so few of the symptoms, was pretty much number one on the list of why I was not feeling better.

So today, Doug took me in and after a lot of sitting around, a few tests and a shiny new chest x-ray, I officially have bacterial pneumonia in my left lung, treatable with an antibiotic that will probably suck out my intestines unless I take my acidophilus and bifidobacterium along with it. I have decided to stick with my natural stuff anyway. Because maybe without all of that, I'd be much worse off than I am now.

Looks like I will have at least a few more days of enforced time off from the studio, after which I will have to really kick butt to catch up for the show in January. But I am not going to think about that right now - I am just going to enjoy resting for just a bit more, even if it is starting to drive me nuts. Well, not the being waited on part or handing over all chores and chauffeuring duties to Doug, that part is just fine. Heh.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Good News is Always Good

Farmland, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x18

I received some good news while sitting here at my desk all day, patiently waiting for my energy to return. Heh.

Turns out the client who wanted a same size piece to go along with a painting she had bought, decided that she liked all of the three options that I gave her and will be buying all of them. Holy cow! I was worried that she wouldn't like any of them and that I'd have to go back and do a few more!

Luckily, I got them all finished up and put together before I got sick and all I have to do today is do the paperwork, pack them up and ship them out.

The piece below is the first one that the client bought, the one above is one of the new ones. I am really liking working with this long rectangular 9x18. It has nice proportions and still qualifies as small and affordable.

Long Field with Tree, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x18

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Happy Thanksgiving Anyway

We have a dorky shot like this of Doug and a turkey each year for the last 13 years or so.

On Monday and Tuesday, I spoke way too soon about feeling better and having a milder version of this illness than my son had last month. I really should know better then to talk like that!

I did have a few moments where I felt like I might be getting better but mostly I felt even worse over the last few days. The intense cough kept me up each night no matter how many tricks I tried to soften it or even ignore it. Each morning I felt ok, and would get up and take a shower but by noon or so I'd have a fever which would last into the evening. I was getting seriously bummed out about all of this as Thanksgiving got closer and I realized that I wouldn't be able to do much of, if any of the cooking or other preparations. But Doug, my own personal saint, stepped in and took care of everything. He ran to the store twice for last minute supplies, he cleaned and he cooked each and every dish. He made the pies (his first ever), all of the side dishes and the turkey (normally he does the turkey and the potatoes and I do everything else). Ok, I supervised him just a bit from my chair in the kitchen, but still he cooked and eventually washed every single dish, piece of silverware, pot and pan in this house by the end of the day. And he said he enjoyed it. I am feeling a bit teary eyed thinking about it.

The kids helped out too, they did a lot of cleaning and waiting on me hand and foot and no complaining either. Dinner was lovely, eaten by candlelight in our beautiful (and seldom used) dining room. There was something that appealed to everyone, even the pickiest eaters, and despite not having an appetite at all for over a week, I managed a few bites. The evening ending with everyone showing off their own particular tricks, double jointed thumbs, shoulder blades that pop out, etc and we all oohed and aahed.

I am incredibly grateful to have such a wonderful husband who never once complained about all the unexpected work for him and not only that, was concerned about how I felt all day too. I am so lucky to have him and our amazing kids, to finally have a close family, one without issues and undercurrents.

So without messing things up for myself again, I am not going to say how I feel today. However I will say that I am puttering around in the studio AND am not hawking up quite as much crud as yesterday. You can draw your own conclusions from that. Heh.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Same As It Ever Was

Sloping Field, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x18

Well, today is pretty much the same as yesterday. I am ok, but still wiped out and haven't had the energy to venture into the studio. I think I will wait until Friday and start slowly, with puttering. There is always plenty of that to do. Plus the kids will be home and that will guarantee that I won't be able to do anything really productive.

Last week before I understood that I was sick, not just lazy, I did manage to get a few pieces done, including three options for a client interested in a "sort of" commission. They all turned out nicely, even if I don't specifically recall painting them. Now I can see what a haze I was in last week.

I have posted one of them today and will post the others soon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Miss After All

Winter Light, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x12

Well, folks, turns out I was too sick after all to make it to my own opening in Pittsburgh, for a show that has been on my calendar for over two years, yes, two years.

I really thought I was better, and had nearly convinced myself of that during the 2 hour drive to the airport and while standing in the security lines. But when Doug and I were in the bookstore, it really hit me-I felt awful. When I moved my eyes everything wiggled and I was pretty sure I had a fever (I did, it was 101.9). So Doug got our bag back, canceled everything and we drove back home.

I felt horrible about missing the opening, I worried about how the gallery had put so much time and energy into setting up the show and publicizing it and how it felt like such a faux pas that I had committed. Of course the gallery director was very nice and understanding when Doug called her to explain (I was practically hallucinating by then) but still this is new territory for me and I reserve the right to feel guilty anyway. But by Friday evening I didn't care, I was worried about survival! And at around 7pm on Saturday, during the opening, I was crawling around my bedroom trying to get into bed so that I could assume the fetal position and die. So I guess it was good I didn't go, right?

Anyway, today I am feeling much better. I still have a very irritating cough and not much energy, but I am not seeing things anymore, my temperature has been normal since last night and the part in my hair doesn't hurt as much either (I am not even kidding, the area around the part of my hair was incredibly painful and sensitive. I kept thinking it would go away if I made a new part on the other side but I couldn't bear the thought of doing that either). Doug took care of everything while I was out of it and the kids have been very helpful towards me. I plan to milk that for at least another week or so. The other benefits from this enforced time off was, well having time off, which I suspect I needed (the body is very intuitive) and I lost a few pounds plus was able to kick my sugar habit in one fell swoop.

There is always a bright side.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Near Miss

Head on View, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

I seldom get sick anymore. The last time I had a fever/flu (I don't do flu shots) was about 12 years ago and it's been almost three years since I have had a cold. So when I began to feel funny a few days ago I didn't pay any attention to it at all, just thinking I was tired. But Wednesday night I started having chills and sweats, coughing and had a low fever.

While trying to sleep that night, I worried about the timing of this. Months ago, I had made all of the travel arrangements for this weekend's trip to Pittsburgh for the solo show opening reception and the way I felt on Wednesday, I was pretty sure that I would not be able to go. The thought of getting on an airplane seemed downright painful.

BUT, on Thursday I didn't feel worse and in fact after taking it easy all day and loading up on tea and Vitamin C, I felt much better last night. So even though I don't feel 100% Doug and I are going to leave this afternoon after all.

When it was looking like I wouldn't be going, I felt really bad about the thought of missing it. I mean, if you're sick you are sick and standing around talking and shaking hands with people isn't a great idea, but I feel a lot of self induced pressure to be at the openings, especially the receptions for a solo show. I feel grateful to the galleries that are giving me these exhibition opportunities and the best way that I can support their efforts, besides supplying fab work, is to be at the openings.

This does raise an interesting issue though. How to handle last minute situations that arise right before an opening or event? When I started all of this I often had "anxiety" dreams, where I would dream that I simply forgot to go to the event. As if! Things do come up though and I guess I have been lucky so far that nothing in my personal life has interfered with the art stuff.

The painting I have posted today is one that will be on display in the show at Boxheart (the opening is this Saturday, November 17, 6-9pm, for those of you who may live in the area) and I wanted to mention that it's an unusual painting for me in the sense that it is a straightforward view of a barn. I have tried these sorts of views and compositions before but they have always failed miserably. They just look extremely flat and static, so I usually add a little tilt or change the angle slightly. For some reason, however, this one just worked, in fact it's one that just painted itself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Keep On Keeping On

The Back Field, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

The first three comments on last week's Pay It Forward post were from Lisa, Angela, and Mary Ann/Indigomar and I have already included some small scale paintings into my last batch of work to send out to each of them. I also had plenty of comments on this and private emails from readers saying that they really liked the concept of this project, and now I wish I had taken credit for coming up with it!

So please visit these blogs and keep an eye out for their offer and participate in order to keep this thing going. If you are concerned about giving your art away, don't forget that it doesn't have to be the work that you would otherwise sell. Older work qualifies, as well as anything handmade, small and even experimental. I have decided to send out paintings only because a. that's all I seem to do anymore and b. I just got all of these really cute little panels and this is the perfect chance to do something productive with them other then letting them clutter up my studio.

PLUS, the holidays are coming and the piece of art you get may be a great gift for a friend or family member.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Perils of Napping

Seven, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

On Saturday I received word that all of my work arrived safely in Pittsburgh. Hearing this was a relief. I have never had any damage to my work in transit, but you never know, and I have heard enough shipping horror stories to not take a safe arrival for granted.

We had a fairly busy weekend, which included a very long swim meet and going to the local high school's production of Beauty and the Beast (it was awesome, yet somewhat excruciating as well) on Saturday evening, not to mention random chores and errands. I did one thing this weekend though, that I haven't done is many years. Saturday afternoon, I sat down in a chair next to the fireplace, with a blanket, a cat on my lap and a book with the intent of taking a nice nap. Of course the very minute I did that, 3 out of 4 of my kids had some sort of pressing question that couldn't wait. I finally managed to doze for about 5 minutes then our 60-ish, incredibly active, neighbors stopped by while taking their daily three mile walk. I immediately explained that I never nap, or even sit down and read a book during the day, but I don't think they believed me.

On Sunday I worked in my studio most of the day just to show off. Of course no one paid any attention to me that day at all. Typical.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pay It Forward

Pink Bookends, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Last week I was lucky enough to receive a beautiful painting from Mary Klein. I caught her post about a project called Pay It Forward, and since I was on my toes that day, I immediately left a comment and voila! I have a new addition to our art collection. And don't get me started how perfectly it was packed, I have a complex now about the fact that I simply wrap my paintings in bubble wrap, (secondhand sometimes!) toss it in a box and ship it. Hers involved typed information, layers of cardboard and velvet, and a fitted nest for the panel. Clearly, I am not worthy. Heh.

Anyhoo, in exchange for her gift I have promised to continue this project. Here are the rules for Pay It Forward (via Mary, via Deanna, etc):

I will send a handmade gift (in my case I can specify that it WILL be a painting, probably a very small one, but a real live painting nonetheless) to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

When you leave your comment, please also do one of two things: leave your post address or e-mail it to me.

I am usually a humbug about these sorts of internet things, getting tagged and all of that, but this one sounded fun, plus I get free art AND I get to yet again show off share my work.

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This Week's To Do List

Autumn Scene, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Since Monday, I have been very busy putting the last touches on 25 paintings, doing the related paperwork and packing them up for shipment to Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh. The last batch is going out today but unfortunately I will not be taking a break, not even for a day. This is what I have to do this week:

1. Today I have to do some underpaintings today for a project that I am incredibly behind on. A friend of ours (he and Doug knew each in high school) and for the last two years he has purchased a painting from me in order to use the image on the holiday cards for his company. This year, I had trouble getting an appropriate image painted, because of my show schedule but Steve has been kind enough to push back the deadline to the last possible minute. I have until November 15 to do several winter themed paintings so that he can choose one for his card.

2. I have to prepare the panels (usually takes at least two days) for a "sort of" commission for a client that bought a horizontal 9x18 landscape. She would like another piece that is the same size, but has no specifications regarding the image. My favorite kind of commission! Again, with this project, I will do several paintings so that she can choose one that she likes.

3. On Thursday, I have to ship out four small paintings to Gallery 100 for their annual small works holiday show, "Significantly Small". I have two small flower paintings ready and I will include two water related pieces. I meant to do a few more flower paintings, but to be honest, they did not go well at all and now I don't have enough time to resolve them. Moral of the story: always have at least a few paintings on hand.

4. On Friday, I have to begin a whole new batch of paintings for a solo show at The Harrison Gallery in January, I'd like to get as much of the work done for this show as soon as I can so I won't have to be working too much around Christmas and during the kid's holiday vacation, like I did last year. Right.

Clearly, I have no time this week, or for the next two months for a proper post show meltdown. I will be ignoring all the signs of that this time and hopefully that won't backfire. Heh. Actually, I will be going to Pittsburgh next weekend for the opening at Boxheart and that will have to suffice as a break and/or brief breakdown.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Blogger Show Weekend

Brightness, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Well I meant to get this post up on Monday, however I had to get right to work Monday morning and that stretched into the whole day. No time to bask in the afterglow of our lovely weekend in NYC at all!

We left first thing Friday morning, but still managed to get to the city later than intended. I did a quick change at the hotel and Doug and I met up with Mary and her family (Mary is as nice in person as she is on her blog, and her family is wonderful) at Doug's showroom in Soho and then I dragged them off to my gallery a few doors down to show off view a few of my paintings. We chatted some more at the showroom and then had a quick dinner before they had to leave to catch a show. Doug and I went back to our room at the Soho Grand (I splurged, ok, I admit that I always splurge, I am very spoiled when it comes to hotels, so sue me) where were we watched tv and fell asleep by 10pm. Woo-hoo.

On Saturday I had hoped we would get down to Chelsea and visit a few galleries, but one of Doug's clients called and wanted to meet with him around noon. I decided to just walk around Soho, which is something I always enjoy doing and I visited all of my favorite little shops and galleries there. When I went back to the hotel there were a lot of paparazzi out front, they were there the whole weekend actually, but we never did find out who they were stalking looking for.

Finally we got to the opening and the first person we saw was Chris Rywalt, who gave me a big hug. While I am not really a hugger, I allowed this one (and actually I hugged and was hugged many times at this opening) because he wrote an awesome description about seeing my work for the first time and I was really feeling the love. Heh. I was very happy to meet his wife, Dawn, and I immediately liked her. Gradually I began to figure out who some of the other people were, after trying to connect blog photos with the real life in front of me and I have to say that I really got a kick out of introducing myself to people. I so enjoyed the recognition after I said my name (can you say shallow?), because it's so rare that anyone ever knows who I am. Anyway, I was pleased to be able to talk in person with so many of the people that I have read about over the last few years such as Sharon, Dan, Nancy, Stephanie, Susan, John, and my new best friend, Brent, who also said some nice things about my work and since I am easy, now I love him. Heh. A whole crowd of us went out for pizza after the opening ended and we all sat and chatted for hours. It was so much fun even if I did miss a few bloggers (Lisa, Steven, Martin) who couldn't make it to the opening.

Finally we all parted ways and Doug and I made our way back to the hotel. We decided to have a drink in the hotel lounge with all of the ultra cool, fashionable and thin people. We were perched seated at a tiny little table and chair set behind a couch with a couple on it who were making out about an inch away from my elbow. The music got noticeably louder every ten minutes and the only time we felt even remotely cool was when we told the (very cute) waiter that yes, we were staying at the hotel and please add the charge to our room. Oh and did I mention that we were by far the oldest people in the bar? We were.

On Sunday morning we had a great breakfast at a restaurant near the showroom and after buying a $27 dollar, 9 piece box of truffles with ingredients such as chili peppers, fennel, wasabi and paprika, for our babysitter, we headed home. While we were in the city, I was pretty sure I wanted to live there permanently, conveniently ignoring the financial ridiculousness of that ever happening. But all that was a distant fantasy once we got home to the farm, our kids, pets and near freezing temperatures.

Happy to go, happy to come back. Ain't that the way.

Thank you to John and Susan, and to everyone who helped organize and hang the show. It looked wonderful!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The One With All the Plugs

Quiet Country Intersection, 2007, Oil on Birch Panel, 12x24

Just a short hello and goodbye today. I have 97,693 things to do today before Doug and I leave for New York City tomorrow morning. And those things are a bit difficult because of the sugar coma I am currently suffering from. The kids really raked in the candy last night, which means Doug and I had ourselves a little candy party today after they left for school. We never learn.

Anyway, I am totally looking forward to our weekend in the city and have arranged to meet up with Mary and her husband for dinner on Friday. Saturday night is the opening for The Blogger Show, (at Agni Gallery, 170 East 2nd Street, Storefront #3, 6-9pm) and meeting the other bloggers in the show will surely be a lot of fun. Also, I hope that anybody out there who lives nearby will come to the opening and say hi to me.

And please, to anyone of the bloggers who are in town, or to readers who are coming in for the opening, please feel free to stop by Doug's showroom at 51 Wooster (oops and don't forget about my gallery, a few doors down, Multiple Impressions). We will be in and out of the store on Friday and Saturday, but if you miss us you can talk to Javier about the fossils that are on display. They are pretty amazing and worth a trip to Soho. In my completely unbiased opinion, of course. Heh.

I'll be back here on Monday, with a very wordy review of the weekend, I am sure.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Question of the Day

Soft Curves, 2007, Oil on Birch Panel, 16x20

Nat asked me an interesting question the other day in my comments section.

Does reading someone else's interpretation of your work change how you would think about it or talk about it?

I had a flip response ready (No, because no one ever writes about me, excepting these critiques of course.) but decided to hold off responding for a bit. And so for the last few days I have been thinking about whether I am, would be, or should be influenced by other's interpretations of my paintings.

I guess I could change how I think or especially, how I talk about my work because of a critique. And maybe I should, especially in some cases when the observations are incredibly perceptive. I certainly struggle with talking and describing my work in an in depth manner, mostly because I work so instinctively, so it sure would be nice to have some help. AND some new words.

Unfortunately though, those words and interpretations wouldn't be mine. They wouldn't be from my heart and I suspect they would not ring true if I were to say them. And I have to make a real effort NOT to think of what a reviewer may have said or will say, good or bad, while I am actually working or that will really throw me off and out of my zone.

So I guess the answer is a reluctant no.

BUT, the whole review/critique thing does give me some added confidence, at least if it's positive. If it were negative I would buck up and work harder. Or maybe I'd just take to my bed and only eat chocolate and potato chips. Heh. Either way, having someone consider my work so carefully does feel very gratifying and gives it a bit more meaning and affirmation.

Does that even make sense?

Monday, October 29, 2007

I Don't Get It

Cottage at 5pm, Oil on Birch Panel, 8x10

At the risk of being accused of jumping on the bandwagon, I thought I'd weigh in on Charlie Finch's recent comments concerning artblogs, along with Joanne Mattera, Pretty Lady, Steven LaRose, Brent Burket, Eric Gelber, Nancy Baker, and S.L. Butler. Alas, I can't respond directly to what he says about many of the artblogs that I enjoy reading, because, as usual, I am not in on whatever it is that he refers to. For example, he says this about Edward Winkleman:

Have you ever been to blogger Ed Winkleman’s gallery on 27th Street? I hear there is a valuable prize awaiting the first recorded visitor: you get to meet Dinky Winky in the flesh or at least register for a random drawing to win email privileges.

What does that mean, "register for a drawing to win email privileges"? I don't get why that is funny, or even insulting. Clearly, I am missing something here.

And that does not surprise me. I have never been popular, nor have I ever been a member in good standing of any kind of crowd and so consequently, I am usually unaware of the subtleties of so many in-jokes.

Which brings me to my other reaction upon reading this column: complete and utter devastation that I was not mentioned. I know I don't review art, which is probably his focus in reading blogs. And I have never insulted him like some bloggers have, I am a regular looking, middle aged (actually, maybe a bit past that on my more pessimistic days), female landscape painter, not showing in Chelsea. PLUS I have more than one kid AND I talk about my chickens (horrors) so obviously these things would not put my blog anywhere near his radar.

But still. I can't help but yearn for the attention, the increase in hits, and the outrage I could have felt by being included in a "circle-jerk", if only I had been mentioned by Charlie Finch.

My potential popularity has been foiled again. Damn.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's a Good Review

Moody Fall Day, 2007, Oil on Birch Panel, 12x16

And so because I am completely self involved, I signed myself up for Google Alerts earlier this year. Whenever my name shows up somewhere I get an email and a link to the item. It's not always me; often I get links to other Helgesons, including a basketball player who seemingly kicks butt for Purdue based on how often I hear about her.

However, besides the alert for my own posts, I have also been getting a lot of alerts lately, mostly because of The Blogger Show and my upcoming show at Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh. Today a review came in regarding a few pieces that Boxheart has included in a group show, currently on display. I don't get reviews too often, so when I do, expect to hear me crow about it! It was a positive article regarding the show, the artists and he discusses one of my paintings (shown below) plus he made mention of my solo show in November.

Speaking of which, I am very busy trying to finish up the pieces for that. I have to work every day until next Friday, when Doug and I are leaving to spend the weekend in NYC. And when I get back, I will have to begin packing up and shipping all of the work out right away.

Yikes! I wasn't stressed at all until I just wrote that down....

First View of the Morning, 2006, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Sometimes They Fall Down, 2007, Oil on Birch Panel, 18x24

I thought I'd post a few links today to some blogs that I have been reading lately. Because, you know, y'all should do whatever I do. Heh.

Elijah at Art and Critique has done a series of reviews of my work, including several posts concerning individual paintings. Go on over and check out what he says, not just about me, but about other works of art as well.

I came across Sheree's blog a few weeks ago and am really liking it. She has a wicked sense of humor and I like her outlook on life, frustrations, thankfulness and all.

Marjojo left a comment on my blog once and I went to check her out. Her work and writing is filled with such soft intensity that I couldn't help but be hooked. No pun intended, even though much of her work is crochet.

Dorothy linked to me in a recent post (she is one of my lurkers) and when I checked out her blog, I was blown away by her photography. It's incredible. Go check it out and make sure to look through the archives.

Also, while I am posting links, please check out The Blogger Show page here. The opening for the New York show is in less than two weeks (Saturday November 3rd, 6-9pm, Agni Gallery, 170 East 2nd Street, Storefront #3, NYC) and I sure look forward to meeting a number of people who have been a virtual part of my life for the last few years. I also hope that readers/lurkers here will come out and say hi to me and Doug. The opening should be a good time!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday is For Road Trips

Two Trees in Front, 2007, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Sunday was the perfect day for a road trip. I decided to go visit Gary at his Open Studio, which is only about a two hour drive from our town. This time I took my son, Julien as he was very interested to see a potter's studio. He has taken pottery for years and LOVES his throwing class. He is deeply disappointed to be missing the fall pottery session due to playing on the football team. A football playing potter-our kids are well rounded! Anyway, Julien is pretty good company when he is not in his I-know-everything mode. I tortured him with my ipod on the way there and he tortured me with his ipod on the way home. Every time Lucinda began to sing he let out a loud, irritated sigh and I was lucky enough to hear each and every song ever recorded by Weird Al Yankovic. Heh. I never expected that I would ever have to listen to "Like a Surgeon" or "Eat It" ever again. I nearly wept with relief when he switched over to his other playlist that included The Beatles and Modest Mouse.

We had a lovely visit with Gary and his wife Maude. They are very nice and it was fun to see their purple house as well as Gary's studio and work. He gave a couple of demonstrations on his pottery wheel which were cool and my son is all jazzed up to throw a pitcher or a tall vase rather than the bowls he has been doing. Oh yeah, and we did a little shopping!

The late afternoon light was incredible on the drive home and I stopped a number of times to take pictures (which elicited more deep sighs from Julien). Good timing because I have to begin another batch of paintings today for the Pittsburgh show today and I could really use some new images.

Ok, I did my social thing, now it's back to work!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The One Where I See the Future

On my way back from Roxbury last Sunday, I drove past a number of barns and other structures that I have painted in the past. I always have my camera with me and whenever I go anywhere, I usually take at least a few pictures to use as future reference. This is a photograph of a building that I took last June.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally pulled it out and thought I'd have a go at it.

I liked the cupola and in the past have tried to include them in paintings with little success as I have a tendency to get too fussy with them. However, this time I thought I'd include it, but as an element that is no longer really there. So this is what I did:

Now for the eerie part. On Sunday when I passed the building I nearly drove off the road. No cupola!

The building is being gutted and possibly demolished, but on the very day I saw it, it looked a lot like my painting.

You can pretend that you hear the theme from The Twilight Zone now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Used to be Bigger, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

I have been playing around with some alterations to the barn imagery. It began with an aerial photograph of our property that hangs in our kitchen and which I look at often, enjoying the history of our property.

It was taken in the fifties or so, back when this was a real working farm. The photo was given to us by Clyde, who grew up in this house and who now lives about a mile down the road. As you can see, the barns in the photo are pretty extensive, however now, only one piece of that whole structure is still standing. The other structures are long gone and a newer silo is now standing next to the remaining barn. But in the last few months I have become enamored with the "ghosts" of the barns in our community that I see everyday. I've gradually been looking through my barn reference photos with a new eye, imaging what may have once been there. And since I alter so much of the reference that I work from, it hasn't been a big stretch to also imagine what might have been surrounding the structures that I like to paint.

So I have been occasionally adding scratched in barns or houses, clunky additions, and structural elements to some of my barn paintings, portraying what may have been, what is and what could be there as well. This is the first one I did and while not a barn, it was an encouraging start. I have been pleased with the continued results, and several of these pieces, including the one above, will be included in my upcoming show at Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh. The scratched in "ghost" elements are actually very subtle and the challenge is to get the painting and composition to work, whether one can see the additional elements or not. That takes a bit more planning than I am used to doing, but I am enjoying the challenge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Barn Lady

A funny thing has been happening lately. I have been the recipient of many photos of barns. No less than three different people have recently sent me photographs of barns that they have taken. Surely everyone who knows me, or reads my blog must think of me when they see a barn now. Heh. Clearly I am now the Barn Lady.

Actually I love this. I have hundreds of pictures of barns that I have used for reference but even though I usually see at least one barn wherever I go and always get pictures, I can't be everywhere. And there are an incredible number of barns in communities throughout this country, not to mention the whole world. So I truly appreciate the thoughtfulness of those of you who have taken the time to send me photos. New reference is always good and when it comes through someone else's eye, it's even more fascinating to me.

And to the rest of you - bring it on! I would be very happy to see more barns (or multiple barns) and many of them will surely find their way into a painting. So go ahead and email me jpegs if you like.

The above barn is my great Aunt Minnie's barn in Ohio. Aunt Minnie (sister to my grandmother and to my Aunt Esther, mentioned here) was the best aunt ever, full of life and spirit and endlessly interested in everything that I did. Our yearly visits to her home were a bright highlight in my childhood and her confidence in my abilities was of such value to me. She died almost eight years ago at the age of 95 and I still think of her often. I am not sure if the barn and property is still in her family, but this will always be Aunt Minnie's barn and I am sure it has more than a few stories to tell.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Retrieving Art and Music

Two Trees In Front, 2007, Oil on Panel, 16x20

Sunday I took a break from working in the garden and drove down to Roxbury. A few weeks ago I received word that the gallery would be closing at the end of November and so I wanted to retrieve my work from their inventory. I have been exhibiting there for almost two years and it was a good experience. I had a three person show and a solo show, plus my work was included in a couple of group shows. Sales were modest, but pretty good considering the gallery is located in such a small community. I found several new collectors (yes I mean you, Brian) and showing there really helped raise my profile in upstate NY. But as I move into galleries in larger cities, it becomes more difficult to continue to sell my work in the smaller areas. So losing this gallery doesn't feel like a bad thing for me, however, it's unfortunate that Roxbury is losing such a good fine arts venue.

The ride home was excellent. It was a nice, sunny day with great light and I stopped several times to take photographs to use as reference for future paintings. And holy cow, my iPod was really throwing out some good songs. At one point it played a string of seven songs, each of which break my heart in totally different ways.

"Jack and Diane" John Mellencamp back when he was John Cougar. Reminds me of high school.

"Martha" Tom Waits. Oh the pain of talking to an old lover!

"Welcome to the Jungle" Guns N'Roses. Gotta love totally raucous noise once in awhile.

"With or Without You" U2. I can't even tell you all how much I loved Bono in the 80's. He was my man, my one true love. I know he would have loved me too if we could have made eye contact, just once...

"Car Wheels on A Gravel Road" Lucinda Williams. Everything that Lucinda sings breaks my heart.

"It Ain't Over Til It's Over" Lenny Kravitz. Love the sound of this one and well, I loved Lenny too. I am very fickle, sorry Bono.

"Hallelujah" Jeff Buckley. Showcases Jeff Buckley's incredible voice and heart and makes me feel sad that he is gone.

Then I skipped a few and came to "Gimme Shelter" by Patti Smith. I had a sore throat trying to keep up with Patti (not possible) by the time I pulled into the driveway.

A very good day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Odds and Ends

The last few days have been dark, dreary and rainy. I actually love those kind of days, however a few in a row can really put a crimp in my ability to photograph my work. My prime photo location does depend on at least a little bit of sun and we haven't much lately. So the stack of paintings waiting to be documented will have to wait for another day at least and today I will make do with putting up a few other things.

Doug and I went with the girls to the local Pumpkinfest a couple of weeks ago. Growers from all over the area bring in their pumpkins to get them weighed. This year the winner weighed 1376 lbs! If you are truly fascinated by all of this, and who wouldn't be, haha, you can see more results here. There were also the obligatory craft tents and baked goods for sale and we saw nearly everyone we knew there. We go every year and it is always a good social event. The next day the local huge pumpkin participants hollow out their pumpkins and there is a regatta race in the lake, along with another set of crafts, activities and food booths. We skipped that this year, although it is pretty surreal to watch adults paddling around a lake in a big pumpkin.

I took some pictures of our yard (plus one gratuitous shot of Penny, our dog) and house last Sunday when we did actually have some sun. My heart bursts when I see all of this fall color, even though it is never as good in a photo as it is in real life.

And last but not least, my work has been reviewed at this blog. I am feeling a bit big headed today, as it is a very flattering review where so much more meaning is given to my work that I ever thought possible.

Have a nice weekend. We will be busy in our garden, trying to prepare it for next spring as well as for planting a few winter crops in a straw bale cold frame. Wish us luck on that. Heh. We need it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How We Met

Doug and I in 1990. He is holding the camera and looks more jowly than he actually was.

In September of 1988 I was coming off a very bad summer. I had spent far too much time mooching beer from my friends at the bars in Center City, often walking home at 2am because I didn't have a dollar and change for the subway. I was incredibly poor, even losing weight because I didn't have money for food. I couldn't find a decent job and only managed to get through the summer by borrowing $800 from my great Aunt Esther, (a true low point for me, borrowing money from her) who was very disappointed in me because I hadn't actually gotten my degree. I lived in a really dark and depressing upstairs apartment in a rowhouse in South Philly and it was maybe the hottest, most humid summer ever.

Finally in September I called about a listing posted on the college job boards. It was a temporary job doing assembly at a small holographic company on North Delaware Avenue. I worked there for about 2 weeks, along side a guy named Mike (his favorite band was Toto and he had the best mullet ever) assembling holographic calculators that were to be shipped off to The Sharper Image catalog. A guy named Paul supervised us and there were two other guys, Mike and Bob who were partners in the company. Mike handled sales and marketing and Bob did the graphics. They were all very nice and a lot of fun to work with and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. During the few weeks I was there I kept hearing about Doug, who was out in Utah but I never did meet him while I did the assembly work. About a week or so after that job ended, I got a call from Paul who said that they were looking for a secretary, a permanent position, and wondered if I could come in and talk to the owner, Doug. I was pretty sure that I would be a terrible secretary and that that kind of job was totally beneath me, but I also was desperate for some income and so I said yes.

Holographic Design was located in a beautiful loft space in a converted warehouse space. Across from the building was a sauerkraut factory that emitted the most disgusting smells in the summer. Open vats of sauerkraut we often sitting on the street in front of the door to the loft and oh my god, the flies! Neither of us can eat sauerkraut to this day. When I went in for the interview I recall walking up the steps to the reception desk, idly wondering if he might be someone that I might like (as in like, like), where Doug was talking on the phone. However when I saw him he didn't seem my type, as I usually preferred guys who were jerks, and I could tell right away that he was nice. He seemed too old (um, 31, practically ancient, heh) and maybe kind of square. So I forgot about all of that silliness and we talked for awhile. He asked me if I could start the next day and I said ok. Later on he said he felt like there was something going on between us during the interview and that he was flirting with me. I have since learned that he is terrible at flirting, which makes it all the more cute when he tries it.

Anyway, I started to work there and I really enjoyed it. Turns out I was pretty good at answering the phones and handling customers and I learned to use their newfangled Mac Classic computer. And within a few days I realized that I really liked Doug, that he was totally my type and that he was the guy for me. I didn't know much about his personal life, other than that he lived upstairs from the office and that he seemed to work all of the time. One of his partners was married and the other was getting married, so I just assumed that Doug must have a girlfriend or something and I recall that I didn't want to know, because I would be devastated to have to keep working there and see him getting married. I remember sitting at the bar at McGlinchey's one night, pouring out my sob story to a friend of mine, that I was in love with my boss and surely he has a girlfriend, waaaaaa. But I got the real scoop soon enough. I was invited to go out for drinks with everyone after work on Doug's birthday, October 10, which was about 2 weeks after I began working there. We all went to the bar at Society Hill Hotel and during the course of the evening I found out that he was unattached. My crush spiraled out of control! Doug went off to have dinner with his father and I went home feeling incredibly giddy. On that evening I had picked up a few vibes from him and anything seemed possible.

Over the next few weeks we hung out a bit after work, often along with some of his friends, and it was all very casual. I showed him my work and he seemed very impressed, and I learned that he had a BFA in Photography and sculpture from Tyler, so I was impressed. I guess I knew he was interested in me but I wasn't really sure until we went to a Halloween party at the photographer's loft next door. It was a costume party and everybody was fabulously dressed, but I did not wear a costume, other than my usual all black of course. Doug felt he had to dress up somehow, he was wearing a red shirt and a brown tweed coat and then he strapped a big round Fresnel lens to his face, which made his face look HUGE. He looked like a complete idiot! At one point during the evening he put his arm around me, bumped my head with the lens and that was it. I finally knew for sure that he liked liked me.

As we began to get closer we kept it quiet. None of my friends, including Cecily, thought Doug and I were right for each other. And eventually his partners found out about our relationship. That went ok at first, I don't think anyone thought it would last and it was excellent office gossip fodder, but after awhile things got a bit difficult and Doug's friend/lawyer began to give him grief about what a bad idea it was to date an employee. I didn't handle the situation very well with his partners either (I was only 23, and very stupid!) and was much less sensitive than I could have been. In 1990 or so, Doug decided to partner up with another group, which involved a move to Connecticut. Mike and Bob didn't want to relocate so they left the company and found work elsewhere. Doug asked me to go along with him and I joined him there after a few months. We rented a big, old beautiful house in Milford, CT and in 1993, five years after we met, we got married in the living room of that house by a justice of the peace. There have been a few bumps and a near divorce, but mostly our years together have been blissfully happy, despite our scandalous beginning!

I love you Doug, happy birthday, oh and thanks for hiring me for the secretary job, starting salary 10,000.