Sunday, August 31, 2008


I don't pray but I do wish and hope. So today, and for the next few days I will be wishing that Hurricane Gustav will simply peter out in the middle of the gulf so that what happened three years ago, during and after Katrina doesn't happen again.

However, it sure looks bad down there and I fear that my wishes won't matter. But at least it looks as if as if everyone is taking this one more seriously and are getting out of New Orleans and the other coastal areas. It also looks like the various levels of government have learned a few lessons and are doing what they are supposed to be doing. I will keep wishing for that to be true and for it to continue. I also hope that I won't have to explain to my kids again why there are so many people stranded on their rooftops without food or water.

I know we are all hoping for the same things here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Art Always Makes Me Feel Better

Unreal, 2008, Oil on Panel, 20x40

I am not exactly in a funk, but things are definitely not going smoothly here on the farm. Doug has been out of town a lot lately, my career and work are in a state of flux, and while my daughter is doing great, we are still adjusting to a change in our lifestyle and trying to prepare ourselves at least a little bit for what could happen in the future. And a few extended family issues round out the package.

Historically, any kind of shopping (or alcohol, in the very distant past) always made me feel better, but since I have mostly ironed out my emotional and addiction issues buying stuff isn't what I yearn to do anymore. Well, with a few exceptions, that is. I will always want to buy art, books, and music. Oh and art supplies too, and maybe furniture once in awhile too. That's it. Heh. At least I am over the yarn thing. Anyway lately, I have been squeaking out a few bucks here and there to buy art and along with a few gifts I think I will get though all this other stuff just fine.

Last spring Doug and I made a great trade with a friend of ours from Utah, who now lives in Madison WI. We have always admired Greg's work and I can't wait to hang his painting in our new living room/old studio. You can see it here, scroll down, it's called After the Harvest.

Next, Melody and her family visited us and art was exchanged. I love the piece she gave me and still can't fathom how much work must go into her embroidered paintings each time I look at it. I don't have a picture of the piece but you can see her work on her blog.

Then I bought this piece from Steven LaRose. I have been watching his work develop over the last few years (yikes, has it really been that long?), not sure if I was "getting" it and then I saw this piece and I sure got that one! I loved it immediately and then even more when I saw Zaum in person. It is amazing. AND I got the added bonus of a personalized shipping box:
Too bad it got a bit dinged up in transit but at least the painting wasn't damaged.

Periodically over the summer, I have been occasionally been buying collages from Randel Plowman. I love them and they are criminally affordable. I can't even link to all the ones I bought, six in all, but most of them include birds and one has a chicken. Still hope to get one that has a rooster, he does them once in awhile, but they go fast.

I have been trying to buy one of Carol Marine's daily paintings for awhile. I fell in love with this one but just when I was preparing to bid on it, in the last few minutes of the auction, our power went out during a lightening storm. Ugh! I was heartbroken. Finally though, another one came up which I also loved and this time the power stayed on when I entered my bid. It was meant to be, Mother Nature said so.

And today when I returned from town after shipping a package to Chris, I found a package on our porch from him. I swear this was coincidental. Clearly he and I are on the same wavelength. heh. He sent me two drawings which you can see here and here. I am excited about this new direction of his and am very happy to be a small part of it (I suggested he do one in purple).

So I am feeling better now and all this art will surely help me get back on an even keel. Well, that and the kids going back to school next week. Sorry, I know it's wrong to say that but god help me, it's true.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Dearest Drawing Table

In 1983, during my freshman year in college at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design I spent an incredible sum of money on a drafting table. Well, at the time $95 seemed like a fortune, representing almost two months worth of grocery money and a good portion of my student loan money for that year. I was hurting financially for a long time after I bought the table but in retrospect it was one of the very best purchases I have ever made.

The drawing table has been with me ever since, moving along with me, in and out of sixteen different "studios" all located in a variety of dorm rooms, crappy apartments and loft spaces, nicer apartments, crappy houses and finally into the last two nice houses that we have lived in. I have lugged that thing up and down stairs, elevators, shoved it into small car trunks and it still has the numbered sticker on it from the commercial moving company that we used for our last cross country move. This table has been completely comfortable and useful in every surrounding that I put it into and it has always been the place where I have done most of my art from student work to developing the landscapes when I got back to serious painting five years ago.

After I began to work on larger panels a few years ago I gradually shifted over to using an easel and my dear drawing table was shuffled off to the side, still valuable though, as a surface to hold junk, an occasional still life set up, and the space underneath it was perfect for my sand down pile.

When I moved my studio up to the attic, I did not plan to include the table this time and it has been sitting in the old studio space along with the stuff that I still have to sort through (waiting for the kids to go back to school before I tackle that room, only because they ALL want to help me paint the walls and good grief, I can't bear that thought of that particular kind of help!) and still with the sand down pile underneath it. There was some talk of setting it up in my son's bedroom, but I just couldn't bear the thought of it being lost in the junk that piles up, well, everywhere in his room. My table deserves better that that!

I finally decided that I had to have it in my studio, even if it was just for sentimental reasons. This weekend I scooted my new project table back towards the wall a few feet, which left some room in front of it for the drawing table but I wasn't exactly thrilled about this spot because it looked like it was going to really make my studio crowded. Exactly what I didn't want to do and exactly what Doug says I always do in my workspaces anyway (he's right).

So for the seventeenth time I took the table apart (easy) took the top off (needed help with that) carried the pieces upstairs and put it back together (hopefully for the last time).

And it turns out that it is perfect in this spot and in this studio, just as it has always been everywhere else. I now have an extra big, high, flat surface to work on AND space for a new sand down pile. Still not too crowded up here either.

But really, that's it. No more furniture in my studio. I mean it. Really.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Coming Down

Morning Light on Red Barn, 2005, Oil on panel, 8x8

On Saturday, the kids and I were driving down the road to town and as we passed one of my favorite red barns, I noticed that there was some work going on. After a closer look it became obvious that the barn was carefully being taken down, probably so that the wood can be reclaimed. That part is good but I am devastated to lose another of our area's barns, one that I look at and enjoy every time that I go past it.

Of course I understand why barns come down, they become unstable, and can be VERY expensive to repair properly. Steel buildings can be built for a fraction of the cost and go up quickly and easily. Our beautiful 100 year old wood barn just sits, needing much work to make it useful again, but it will be quite some time before we can afford that. In the meantime we just hope the thing won't burn down or fall down. Anyway, this fellow did build a new barn, which is very nice even if it is lacking in character right now. I suppose it will have more as the years go by.

I have painted this barn quite a few times over the years and now it will be one of the first images I will do when (and if!) I ever get back to actually painting again. And I am going to photograph this barn as it is dismantled (maybe there is a project there?) then I will definitely take a few days to drive around central NY and take photos of more barns. I have wanted to do that for the last year or so but this event has really spurred me on to do it soon.

Route 26 Barn, 2004, Oil on panel, 6x6,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Slow Down

Lovely Sky, 2008, Oil on Panel, 6x12

I am feeling that both my work and career are at a crossroads. Partly because I haven't painted for over a month and surely when I get back to it, things will look very different to me. And partly because yet another one of my galleries is closing its commercial space and will be focusing on consulting and special events, which are unfortunately the type of situations that don't really flatter my work.

My sales have really slowed down this summer. I am not taking this personally, the paintings that I have out there are just as good as the ones that sold before. It's more the economy I think; the buyers in the art world I am in (which is definitely NOT the big one!) are tightening their belts just like most of the rest of us and so purchases of art are the first thing to go. And understandably so.

But I have gotten used to the ebb and flow of selling art over the last few years, so I will manage. And in fact this time will be well spent working on other things. I can take some time before school starts to get used to handling my daughter's diabetes. And before that came up I was working on a series of portraits that I am excited about. When the kids go back to school I will get back to work on those and cross my fingers that I didn't totally lose my momentum on them.

I do plan to start sending out my info to find some new opportunities though. I tentatively have a show scheduled for next spring, showing figurative work (yayy!) so that is encouraging, but I would like ongoing representation by another gallery, hopefully one in a larger city like Boston or New York.

But business and sales aside, I look forward to seeing and painting the landscape from a new angle and to having the time to develop a new body of work as well. I am lucky enough to be able to do whatever I want again, which is a nice reminder of how I felt when I began painting five years ago. A lovely sense of freedom.

So it's all good, even if I do have to stick to a stupid budget for awhile. Heh.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to Normal, More or Less

Wide View, 2008, Oil on Panel, 6x12

I'd like to thank all of you who sent wonderful, hopeful and encouraging comments and emails in response to my post about Ginger's diabetes. The support we have gotten here and in our daily life has been gratifying and has also caused me to be on the verge of tears (in a good way!) at least a few times a day. We are doing fine; settling into a good routine. Ginger is doing great and although we still prepare the syringes, she has been giving herself the insulin shots, while holding her shot dog ( a stuffed animal that I bought at the hospital and who received more than a few practice shots before Ginger got her first one from me) of course.

We are trying to keep to our normal life as much as possible, which is pretty easy right now because our schedules are quiet these last few weeks before school starts. On Saturday night I went to a going away party for some friends who are moving away while Doug took Ginger to a movie. Today Doug went down to the city and will be taking a 5 day trip to Utah soon. Also today, Ginger began a cheerleading class at our local gym that I had signed her up for last spring. And yes folks, no one has to point out the irony of me, a relatively anti-establishment, anti-cheerleading, anti-school spirit homecoming queen type of girl, spawning one child who embraces all of that and who will probably actually BE a prom queen. Believe me, I have spent more than enough time wondering what I did wrong here. Heh. The other kids are properly cynical about that stuff and are headed for moody artist territory but Ginger is the one who likes to be involved and most especially, popular, fashionably dressed AND accessorized.

Anyway, things are good. Tomorrow we are off to Syracuse for our first appointment at the diabetes center and then we'll visit the big stupid mall to fulfill the prom queen's wish to go shopping for school clothes.

Totally cannot wait for that. Heh.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ginger Saves the World

Our youngest daughter, Ginger, is nine. She is a cute little bundle of energy, on the go from morning until night, full of chatter, silliness and is the ultimate girly-girl. She is a wicked soccer player and also does gymnastics, basketball and is on the school jump rope team. I have been tired since the day she was born, just trying to halfway keep up with her. At home she plays the spoiled baby of the family to perfection, driving us all crazy with her demands (which we seldom give in to, by the way) but out in public, she is a leader, self confident and personable. She has always been incredibly healthy, having never had the need for antibiotics, no ear infections, no strep, no flu, only a mild cold once a year, maybe. She is very proud that she has never missed a day of school in four years.

Lately though, she hasn't been herself, sleeping all day, almost every day since she got home from camp just over a week ago. On Monday, after realizing that it wasn't just some kind of bug, or even mononucleosis, which we considered, I took her in to the doctor and she had blood drawn and a urine test. We were supposed to go back in a week for the results but by the time I got home from the appointment the Dr. was calling me. At first they said she had sugar in her urine and that we would have to go to a diabetes center in Syracuse the next day to have her examined there. Even though I crossed my fingers hoping that it was Type 2 Diabetes, which is somewhat more manageable than Type 1, I just knew immediately that it was Type 1. Which was confirmed when they called me again after getting the blood sugar results (845, normal is 70-150 or so), and finding ketones in the urine, and insisted that I bring her to the ER immediately. They wanted to stabilize her and then transport her to Syracuse, where there is an excellent diabetes center. Our small hospital does not have a pediatric endocrinologist and they made it clear that we would have to go elsewhere for care. I appreciated their honesty but secretly panicked about having to go to an unfamiliar city for all of this.

Doug and one of our sons had just left very early that very morning for Wyoming, along with a friend and his son. I called him, had myself a good cry and began to make some plans. I found people to take care of my other son and daughter, the house, the pets. I packed a few bags since they told me that Ginger would be admitted to the hospital and I even thought to gather relevant phone numbers. We got to the ER and Ginger received her very first IV, not easy for a scrawny little girl like her and she was very upset. Almost right away my friends showed up (many of our friends here are doctors at the local hospital and word traveled fast once I called someone for help with the kids) and every time someone came in I teared up. One friend loaned me her cell phone (mine has a bad battery) and even went out to our house to get Ginger's blanket that we had forgotten. I am so thankful for the friends we have here, I hadn't realized how many we had until this day. And even though Ginger wasn't feeling well, I could see that she enjoyed being the center of attention! She would have sashayed around the room greeting everyone if she could have.

Anyway, the ER doctor set up the transport to Syracuse and we left in an ambulance (no sirens no lights, nothing too dramatic I am afraid) and unfortunately no one told me that riding in the back of an ambulance is just like being in a boat, which would be fine except I get terrible motion sickness in boats. I didn't vomit but it was close a few times!

We arrived at the ER in Syracuse at about 10:30pm. the first thing we saw was a guy handcuffed to a gurney, surrounded by two police officers. Great. They took us to the pediatric section and I had to repeat our story to various doctors, residents and nurses about 27 times. I also heard a simplified description of diabetes about 27 times. It took us about 3 hours to be moved up a room in the pediatric ward, and I can't even begin to tell you all how exhausted I was by that time. Ginger was in much better shape than I, having slept through most of the drive and during our time in the second ER. The insulin they had started her on was helping too. Her blood sugar was gradually dropping and they tested that every hour for the rest of the night. I got about 4 hours of bad, interrupted sleep.

By morning her blood level was normal and she was starving! She had breakfast and the endocrinologist came in and we discussed the situation. Another woman from the diabetes center visited later on and gave me a tutorial on insulin, syringes, blood glucose testing, ketones and well, our new lifestyle. She was great and I sure wish I could remember more of what we talked about, it was a good thing she gave me lots of books and handouts. She told me that all of this would soon be routine and I almost believed her. She also assured me that we could not have handled this differently. I had noticed that Ginger had been drinking more water than usual over the summer, and even though I knew that was a symptom of diabetes, I had simply attributed it to the summer, soccer and her other activities. She said that even if I had brought her in at that point she probably would have been monitored but not diagnosed with diabetes and it would have had to get to this same spot anyway, before she would have been diagnosed. Even though that helped me feel better, I still feel bad about not doing something sooner. I get to keep my mom's guilt, thank you.

In the afternoon the doctor came back and said we could go home. I was terrified (not ready for this responsibility!), yet so happy to hear that. A friend drove up to get us, another friend had driven my car home from the hospital in Cooperstown, and someone had even cleaned up my kitchen. The last few days have been filled with visitors, get well gifts, phone calls and well wishers. This morning I drove to the airport to pick up Doug. He could have stayed the week out west as planned, but he felt awful being there during all of this and took a red eye back last night. I could have managed but am glad he is home anyway. Our son stayed with our friends to finish the trip and he will be home on Saturday.

Last Monday seems like it was 6 months ago and this has been the slowest week ever. I have to be careful at what time of the day I read about Type 1 Diabetes and what it entails. If I read through the books in the evening, when I am tired, I get very upset, overwhelmed and afraid of what the future may bring for Ginger and for us. If I read about it in the mornings when I am rested and more energetic, I am confident that Doug and I will handle this just like we have handled the difficulty of raising a handicapped child for the last fifteen years, as well as the illnesses and deaths of our own parents.

There is much to work out, including school, bus, sports issues, but luckily there is some time for all of that before school starts. Our other kids need to learn about all of this too, including what to do in an emergency. And I have accepted that there WILL be emergencies. She has to have four shots of insulin every day, for the time being anyway, and there will be much tinkering to get the doses right. We have to keep a kit at school, which includes an emergency injection for hypoglycemia, Ginger has to always have a few snacks with her, and she must always wear a medical alert bracelet. We have to go to Syracuse every three months, more often for the next few months, and she will soon have to have yearly eye exams as well as other tests. And did I mention how afraid I am?


Ginger is awesome. She is almost back to her old self and in fact I had to tell her to stop bugging me more than a few times while we were in the car today (she NEVER stops talking in the car). I think we were both happy about that bit of normalcy! She insists on doing her own blood sugar testing already and I think we will show her how to give herself her own shots soon. She is giddy about the pink leather medical bracelet we picked out and is hounding me about when will we go shopping for a case for all of her kits. Thank goodness for girly-girls! Even though I would have preferred that Ginger had had a bug or even mono, I am incredibly thankful that she doesn't have an illness that is even worse than diabetes. I am so grateful for our friends, for Doug and for the health of all of us. I now understand why I didn't knock myself out to get more going with my art this summer and fall; I must have somehow known that I would need time. Time to spend with Ginger, learning about diabetes, how to advocate for her needs and watching over her for awhile. I am very thankful that technology had made self monitoring so much easier than it used to be and am very glad that the needles are so tiny that they seem almost comical. And on a more shallow note I am very glad that we did not have to be transported to Syracuse by helicopter. I would have had to have drawn the line there. Heh.

So even though this is a big one folks, I still feel lucky in so many ways.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Chicken Update While I am At It

And because I know that all of you have surely been wondering how my chickens are, I guess now is as good a time as any for an update. First of all this is a picture of our hen house and coop and no one has to tell me that we are verging on white trash here:My son's summer project was to paint the exterior barn red, but he has been terribly busy what with sleeping late and listening to the Beatles during every single one of his waking hours. And Doug is supposed to put some metal roofing up (in place of the lovely tarp) so that the girls can be outside but out of the rain/snow. I may just have to buck up and do this stuff myself, even though I already do almost everything else around here. Oops, sorry for the mini-rant. Anyway, something will be done about this soon, hopefully before winter and I will grace you all with that update when it happens.

Last fall we started letting the chickens out for the last few hours of the day, after they are done with laying each day's eggs, so that they could free-range. They love it of course, and pretend to be happy with the 17 acres that is all theirs south of the coop:But what they really want to do is decimate my flower gardens across the road (where the house is). Not two minutes after I let them out here they are crossing the road:We keep a bright red plastic rake handy and if you were to come by sometime, there is a good chance you would see one of us running crazily across the front yard, waving the rake and yelling "shoo, shoo" which is oddly effective at getting them back to their side of the road. No fatalities on the road yet, thankfully, (ick, dead chicken body to deal with) but that is probably because our neighbors know they need to slow down for any number of reasons when driving past our house. The drawback to letting them out each day is that in so many ways chickens are very smart and ours actually know how to make me feel guilty. Every day they start crowding around around the door at about noon (too early for them to be let out) and I swear they look at me with hang dog eyes, begging me to let them out.

After the unfortunate death of Rooster #1 last year, Rooster #2 stepped up to the plate and he is really a good rooster. Although he hangs around me, keeping an eye on me when I go into the coop, he does not attack me like Rooster #1 did. He is very diligent about getting the girls in and out of the coop and if I am watching them I always know if a storm is coming. He rounds them up and has them in the hen house before we even see the dark clouds. It's amazing. One night he came up to the house at dusk, when they should have been roosting already and when I went down to the coop I found that the door had blown shut and the chickens were all huddled by the door waiting to get in.

One negative about Rooster #2 is that he does have a tendency to maul the girls and so most of them look pretty bedraggled. Basically he pins them down, applying pressure on their heads and lower backs with his talons while they squawk and squirm and pretty soon their feathers are gone from those areas. It is very violent but no one listens to me when I tell them to stop, so I just turn the other cheek.

And because the hens have a lot of bare skin showing, I have to keep a close eye on those areas. We have two identical hens that I call the peckers and they have a habit of following the others, even the rooster, and pecking at their bottoms or anywhere else actually. A minuscule break in the skin can turn into a gaping wound with those two around. They managed to peck the rooster's bottom so badly last winter (there tends to be more pecking in the winter when they can't go outside as much) that he lost his tail feathers. He has looked a bit unbalanced ever since: The peckers happen to be good layers though, so I let them live.

Right now we have 19 hens plus the rooster. So we get A LOT of eggs each day; anywhere from nine to eighteen. This is the haul from yesterday and today (plus some blueberries from our own two bushes):Unfortunately, at this point, we are all more than a little sick of eggs and anything that is made with eggs. Our friends and neighbors often get free eggs and since I haven't seen as many people during the summer I have taken to flagging down the cars that are driving past in order to give them a dozen eggs. Just kidding, but it's a good idea, one that I should pursue. Heh. Yesterday I had eight dozen eggs in the fridge until a friend came by and I begged her to take a few dozen at least.

For a very long time, Penny, who is a bird killing dog in addition to being incredibly sweet, had to be IN the house when the chickens were out or one of the kids had to play sentry. But this summer, she seems to have other things on her mind and she hasn't paid any attention to them at all. She even hangs around when I go to collect the eggs and calmly stand right next to the rooster, without licking her lips at all when he comes to see what I'm doing. I am cautiously optimistic that we at least won't lose any more chickens to our own dog.

So the egg layers are good and we love having them around. Watching them in the yard is quite entertaining and I am so glad we got us some chickens. I find myself with barn envy now though, wishing I had a BETTER! BIGGER! BRIGHTER! hen house, and a new one built by the Amish folks down the road is high on my wish list, believe it or not.

Maybe for my birthday in December.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vegetable Garden Update

I pulled these carrots out of the garden a few weeks ago. Obviously I did not thin the carrots well enough when they first came up. However, last weekend I pulled some more and they were all huge, and perfect and thankfully, singletons. I also dug around the potato plants a bit and picked a few potatoes that were pretty close to the surface. THEY were stunning and about a million times better than what is in the grocery store. I nearly wept when I ate them (the kids were unimpressed by the way) their flavor was so incredible. I have never grown carrots or potatoes before so I am feeling pretty full of myself right now.

The broccoli is pretty much done, but it was good while it lasted. I was able to freeze a few small bags, give some away and I also confess to letting a bag of it go bad in our fridge. I kept thinking I had time. Anyway, I am going to pull it out this weekend and plant another batch of carrots and peas for a fall harvest. I just planted a few more beds of lettuce and of course our squash is nearly killing us. I can't even get near the bed for fear of losing the outer layer of skin on my legs, so picking squash is Doug's job. I will be spending some time this week, blanching, or shredding the squash and then freezing it, to use over the winter.

Our beans were doing great until a deer got in a few nights ago and sheared off the plants. I put some deer mesh up around the bean tower, but it's a little tough to protect them as they get higher. We need to work on our outer fence, but considering I have been waiting for two months for Doug to hang a photo in our hallway (the wall is plaster and hanging stuff on plaster walls is one of the things I don't do around here) I seriously doubt getting the garden fence shored up is going to happens anytime soon. Um, fencing is also something I DON'T do. A girl has to draw the line somewhere.

Our green peppers weren't looking like they were going to produce anything but now all of a sudden there are a few small ones and many blooms as well. Getting a few cucumbers in now and a few eggplants too. That's another plant I haven't done before so it will be interesting to see how those are.

And holy batman are we in for it with the tomatoes! The plants have busted out of their cages, and I mean that literally, the cages came right up out of the ground along with the plants as they grew. Right now they are just sort of hanging from the tops of the plants, entangled. When the tomatoes do come in I will then spend many, many hours peeling and removing the seeds and then making sauce to freeze. I may also try dehydrating some of them this year, I keep hearing about what a good option that is.

We will be getting a pretty decent amount of food from the garden to store for the winter. However, there are quite a few things that we didn't plant and like last year, I will buy things at the farmer's market like onions, maybe red potatoes, more beans, peaches and corn to freeze for use over the winter. A few more blueberry picking sessions too and we will have plenty of blueberry muffins all winter. Mmmmm.

Super exciting update, just like I said right? Heh.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lazy Days

I noticed today that most of my recent posts have not had much to do with art or painting. That's because I haven't been doing much of anything for the last few weeks, let alone painting. I have been puttering around in my new studio, gessoing some paper to do some figure studies on, gradually sorting through the last of my most crappiest junk in the old studio, which is looking pretty bleak and lonely these days:

Hard to believe now that I painted at least a thousand paintings in this spot:

Anyway, this morning I went and picked 12lbs of blueberries at a local pick your own blueberry farm. Last year the kids went with me, but this year there was a mutiny and no one would come along. So I enjoyed the quiet solitude of doing something so mundane that I was able to figure out how to solve many of the world's problems (o, if anyone would ever pay attention to what I say!) in the 2 hours I was there.

I think the girls and I will go and buy their school supplies this week which will be a real break with tradition, which is to usually get them the day before school starts. And I will try to finish up cleaning out the old studio so that I can get the walls painted next week.

Don't expect much art here for awhile I guess. I am enjoying a bit of a break from the mad dash to finish paintings that need to ship out asap.

On deck for tomorrow: Another super exciting post about our vegetable garden.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

County Fair Time

It's been about 30 years since my best friend, Tammy and I styled our feathered hair, applied sparkly blue eyeshadow and Bonne Bell Lip Smacker, donned our halter tops, short, short cut-off jeans and spent every day for a week at the Olmsted County Fair in Rochester Mn. We were there to see and be seen, troll for boys and were anxious for our once a year fix of a few dozen Tom Thumb mini-donuts. The only thing we missed out on were the boys. I think maybe it was the thick, flavored lip gloss but I can't be sure.

On Saturday, Doug and I took the kids to the Otsego County Fair and it was a real kick to do a fair on this side of my life. I did not worry about my clothing other than to make sure I had a sweater since it was a bit chilly. I don't eat deep fried foods anymore, even if it does smell really good. And I got me a husband now so there is no trolling.

There was plenty of fair food:

Note the deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Eewww!

There were irritating carnies, girls wearing short shorts, and a lot of people smoking cigarettes.

It was a classic small town county fair.

The kids had a great time. Our oldest son (19) wanted to play the games where he could shoot a gun (he lost every time). He did win at the balloon dart game, however and chose a lovely and not at all politically incorrect framed photograph:

He was also desperate to buy a leather jacket/vest/boots, anything. We said no. Except for the bumper cars:

he doesn't do the rides, and only wants a huge soda whenever he goes anywhere. He was the easy one.

Our other son (13) did not want to be seen hang out with us. He got his money, bought his tickets and went off looking for friends and/or his girlfriend. Eventually, when he needed more money (and couldn't find anybody he knew) he showed up and went on some of the rides with us. He also ate a 14" hot dog:

which I didn't approve of but was powerless to stop.

Our oldest daughter (11) cried during The Orbiter:

the first ride she went on (I don't blame her, I refused to ride it because I was sure I would die) and then laughed hysterically the next time she rode it. She did all the rides and played all the games, won a purple monkey and a huge blow up hammer with a squeaky dolphin on the end (don't ask). We have just 2 years before she will be trolling for boys at this very same fair.

This year marked the first year that our youngest daughter (9) was tall enough to go on the big rides. She went on all of them and was not fazed in the slightest. She rolled her eyes during the one that makes grown men vomit:

She ran to be strapped, stomach down, onto The Cliff Hanger, a glider ride that then spun so fast that everyone flew out out sideways:

She shrugged during the ride that made her older sister cry. Oh and she could barely stay seated on the ferris wheel, while I was clinging desperately to the pole in our car. I REALLY worry about what she will be doing at the fair when she is 13.

I admit to saying no way to most of the rides. I am basically a coward when it comes to this stuff. But I did this one (that's me on the left with the black shirt):

I worried the whole time about losing my glasses (which possibly distracted me from vomiting) and it took me awhile to feel right afterwards.

I also went on the ferris wheel, which was a real accomplishment because for some reason that one terrifies me more than any of them. Here you can see how much fun I was having:

I looked like this because Doug kept making us swing, and there were a lot of squeaking sounds that just weren't right, plus the height and spinning was a bit of a problem too.

I played the water gun game which I used to be really good at:
and I lost every time, EXCEPT for the time I played against my 9 year old. Sigh. The best part for me was seeing the goats, sheep and award winning chickens, which in retrospect scares me more than the ferris wheel ride did. Heh.

Doug rode The Flying Bobs with the kids:

The Orbiter:

and the ferris wheel:

AND he made sure the kids didn't lose anything:

All in all it was a blast.

PS. Five years ago we happened to be in Rochester during the fair and we took the kids. It was too bizarre for words to be there with my husband and four kids. It also was exactly the same somehow. Except that I did NOT wear short shorts.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Flower Gardens

Right now, this minute, is the high point of my flower gardens. I have spring flowers, and a few late summer and autumn blooms, but none of them even remotely compare to what happens in the garden in late July and early August.



The view from my studio window:

And Penny, of course:

Vermont Studio Center Again

Deep Purple Hill, 2008, Oil on Panel, 6x12

Well, it has been determined that this is NOT a spam blog and so I am now allowed back in. I wasn't worried about being branded a spammer so much as being threatened with the deletion of my blog. I have been prattling on here for over two years, charting the progress of my work and life and I'd hate to lose all of it. So I will now add two more things to my to-do list: printing out each of the 533 posts (with comments) that I have written and buy more paper. Heh.

So the big news last week was getting an acceptance letter for another residency at The Vermont Studio Center. Even though I have struggled a bit with getting back into my groove, imagery and self-confidence in my work since I went last winter, I still want to go again. The struggle is within me, not the fault of the residency and while I have considered NOT going again, the pull to have the experience again is too strong. Or maybe it is the excellent food they served. Either way, I guess I am going and will try to be confident in what I do, how I do it and why.

At least half the reason to go is the social aspect. It's pretty quiet here in the winter (I am going in February again) and even when it's not, there are few artists here in my real life. So a month to focus on my work, eat good food that I don't have to prepare AND make new artist friends is worth whatever internal struggle it may induce.