Like the weather lately, the past week has been schizophrenic for me. Handsome Hunk and I took advantage of the great weather to explore the city last weekend and soak up some spring, snapping a few photos of buildings and grit along the way.

On Easter Sunday at sunrise, my book club friend Claudia died after her husband opened the windows to let the spring air in. She’d had enough. Parkinson’s had ravaged her body and left it vulnerable to other ailments. I have a feeling that Claudia was a “handful” all her life: she definitely was a


spitfire who always had something unique to contribute to our discussions and much to our delight, she rarely minced words. She served in the Peace Corps, became a social worker and was a creative spirit who loved and participated in all the arts. There have been several times in the past few years that we thought beautiful Claudia was near death, but she always rallied and I never thought of her as sickly. We’ll truly miss you Claudia. I bet at every book club someone will sigh and wonder what you would say.

Last Monday I flew to San Antonio on business with two male associates the age of my daughter. It’s quite the social experiment all that generational togetherness. We worked 9 hr days and ate Mexican food and drank “Top Shelf” tequilas every night, and they were the ones who declared themselves tired and wanting to head back to the hotel to crash. Personally all that “on time” with the clients wore thin with me too.

The Shrimp Pimp in our hotel parking lot in San Antonio, TX

So, this week is jam-packed with getting things done to leave on Friday to visit my grandchildren. I have a pile of new little baby and toddler clothes to take with me. I can’t wait for some little hugs and grimy-faced kisses. Gigi is on her way!

Here’s a little “gritty in the city” photography:


I’ve admired Julie Mehretu’s work for some time now, but I’m sitting up and taking more notice since I read an article about her, Abstract: The Art World, in the most recent issue of The New Yorker.

“Eighty feet long by twenty-three feet high, Julie Mehretu’s “Mural” dominates the entrance lobby of Goldman Sachs’s new steel-and-glass office building in lower Manhattan. Hundreds of precisely defined abstract shapes in saturated colors—small dots and squares, straight and curving lines, larger geometric or free-form shapes ranging from several inches to several feet in length—move across it in an oceanic sweep.”

It’s one of The New Yorker’s go-on-forever articles that I relish when I’m interested in the subject. Goldman Sachs has unpleasant connotations today, but Mehretu said that for her it’s about the art and the legacy of painting.

I’m looking forward to watching the PBS series, Art 21: Art in the Twenty-first Century via Netflix when I have time to savor it. She’s one of the featured artists in season 5,  “Systems.” Her work is built in layers with clear acrylic separating them: It must be fantastic to see in person.

Did you remember Earth Hour yesterday? For many years there were only two New York Times subscribers in our building, us and another couple about our age. The guys often run into each other in the lobby in the early morning when they pick up the papers. It was a nice surprise to open our NYTs yesterday and see an invitation to join them and others on their floor for an Earth Hour candlelit evening at their place. The city sparkled through the windows and the conversation flowed easily— an unexpected pleasure.

I can’t contain myself when it comes to color most of the time. Our apartment walls are multi-colored. The party last night was in an elegant putty-colored apartment. It looked serene, but ultimately it’s not a color I can live with on a daily basis. When I walked into our apartment at the end of the evening, I was suddenly struck by how eclectic ours seemed (maybe tacky?). And I doubted myself. Just yesterday when we were out and about I had started collecting color samples for repainting our main rooms once the weather gets better, so the seed was already planted to repaint. I’m thinking still colorful, but more muted. We shall see.

Speaking of color, we bought groceries yesterday and the colors of the fruit and the bowls handsome hunk chose made me smile, so here’s a little shot of color to liven up a drab weather weekend:

Handsome Hunk and I have a Sunday ritual during the winter. We head to the club in the morning for a workout (I take an hour spin class) and then we linger over breakfast in the café. It takes the edge off the cold, gray days and gives us a false sense of accomplishment for the weekend. We then plow through two Sunday newspapers and often make soup to last the week.

In addition to adding to the work-in-progress encaustic diptych above, I played with my new acrylic paints today. What surprises me, is that acrylics take longer to dry then I thought they would. I’m painting layers that I plan to sand through in different places, so making sure each layer dries before I paint another is important—I think. Right now it’s all about experimenting since I’m used to painting with oils.

Recently I stumbled across Katherine Cartwright’s blog dedicated to the “advancement of critical thinking in art.” In her most recent post, Paint for Yourself, she proclaims, “the point is that I need to paint for myself and the odds are that few people will feel the same way I do about my paintings. And, when you get right down to it, what’s the point of painting from someone else’s view anyway?” Amen.

Yesterday I spent ten minutes of every hour imagining I was paddling about in the beautiful turquoise water of the Caribbean:

And mentally replaying our walk through the botanic gardens on the island:

C’mon Mother Nature, you can do it. Let’s hear it for Spring!!

For one brief shining day the sun was out, the temps were in the low 40s and everyone came out of their winter caves to inhale the glory yesterday. The laser beam of the sun was so acid bright that it was difficult for my eyes to adjust to the glare. ART + SUN = FUN! Unfortunately it’s raining today, and I’m hunkered down in front of the fireplace (ok so it’s gas).  Retrace our  fun-in-the-sun day with me…

I  manipulated this photo to make the brown remnants of last summer’s plants green!  Truly though, the snow was melting and we did see new green sprouts.

Chicago’s Millennium Park is featuring contemporary sculptures from China. This one by Chen Wenling was entitled “Valiant Struggle No.11.” The pig motif is one of his signature images. He turns this local symbol of wealth (the pig) into an icon of contemporary Chinese society: fantastic, ironic, satiric and comical. Holding on to the dangling pig are a man and woman.

From Millennium Park we took the walkway to the sensational Modern Wing of the Art Institute.

One of the rooms featured wallpaper with repetitive images of a black man hanging from a tree and a white man sleeping.  Cat litter bags are lined up against the wall, and the unfilled wedding gown stood in the middle of the room. The next picture offers the artist’s explanation.

This struck me because I was just speaking with a dear friend about the plight of gay marriage in our country.

It was fun to see people out walking dogs, pushing baby carriages and enjoying, hopefully, one of the last weekends of ice skating.

We grabbed a cup of coffee and walked over to the Gehry band shell. It wasn’t too hard to imagine spreading a blanket on a warm summer night to listen to the music.

Looking UP…the patterns of surrounding buildings.

Looking DOWN, it was fun to see the art in a worn sidewalk.

We stoppd to pick up a falafel to eat in a sunny spot by the river.

The falafel shop had this funny, strange shelf of figurines.

Fun in the sun. A hopeful sign that summer is on its way!

In summer my husband and I like to switch to a lighter-weight bedspread of white chenille and today I thought I’d do a little web surfing to find a new chenille bedspread for a change of pace. As I looked through the photos of the beautiful pink vintage bedspreads on this site, I was swept back to my grandmother’s bedroom. I’d tiptoe into her room when she was busy in the kitchen and spend a lot of time when I was small just looking and smelling the wonderful grown-up items on the top of her dresser.

I dreamt of the day that I would be old enough to smear Deep Magic lotion on my face, use the small compact of rouge, douse myself with exotic perfume and smack my lips together and put a tissue between them to take off the excess lipstick. Sometimes Grandma would indulge me with a dab of rouge on my cheeks.

Of course, by time I was a young adult, these cosmetics were terribly old fashioned and we went more for the “natural” look. I’ve always felt a bit cheated and disappointed to miss the days of glamor.

A mirror and brush set was a necessity:

Elegant compacts of rouge that had a little powder puff inside:

Gorgeous perfume bottles with atomizers:

Lipstick in artistic tubes, some even had flip up mirrors on the side. There was a certain odor about lipstick back then:

But, even little girls could wear fancy sunglasses and I remember having a pair similar to these:

I miss my Grandmas. My other grandma always had a big squirty bottle of Jergens hand lotion on her kitchen counter. I keep one in my bathroom, and there isn’t a time I use it that I don’t think of her.  I wonder what memories our grandchildren will have of us.

It’s been a year and 90 posts since I started blogging as an outlet for sharing, communicating, organizing my thoughts, expanding my horizons and connecting with interesting people. Today I refreshed the look and feel of the blog…very subtle, I know. I’ll change the header picture eventually, but on this cold, gray day I like the happy colors in the current one.

A little dis a little dat—that’s what I talk about in this blog and my “Blogs That I Visit” list is eclectic too: art, interior design, fashion and more.  I’ve updated the list, so you may want to peruse it again and visit some of the links.

Today is my Dad’s birthday. HAPPY 84 DAD!!! Still as handsome as ever. When I was young, all my girlfriends commented on this. I think his curiosity and creativity (he’s a woodworker, carver) keep him young.

Dad, Grandma, et moi:

And in case you were wondering, I did keep my promise to enter the Encaustic Art Challenge on Facebook (you can read my previous post about it here) even though my I made it just under the wire. In fact it’s the first one you’ll see when you click here to view all of the entries. That’s because it was the very LAST entry. Since I was strapped for time, I spent only a few hours in the studio working on the two panels (though I entered only one of them), took a photo and uploaded it to Facebook. It was fun because it was quick and I didn’t labor over it.

Here is the inspiration photo of the earth from space that I chose as a point of reference. The electric colors caught my attention.

And here is my encaustic painting (2 panels):

And a close up of the right-hand panel:

I hope you find something to celebrate today too!

Lisa, the creative, whimsical daughter of my closest friend, has recently embarked on a big venture…she’s opened her own shop and it’s a flower extravaganza! Take a look at Pot & Box to find out more. Anyway, Lisa read my previous post about looking for a coffee mug that has the electric teal color found in a peacock feather and next thing I know she sent me the link to the mug below.  I then investigated further and found more, more, more. How do I decide? Maybe I’ll have to buy them all to transport me to the Caribbean each morning when I have coffee. THANKS LISA. Oh, all of these charming mugs can be found at ETSY.

Reminds me of sand and sea!

Sand, sea, palms. LOVE this one!

Again, sand and sea.

This one has the many colors of the Caribbean!

And, the clear cobalt blue with the fish is beautiful.

It’s been a week since our return from Cayman Island and the glow still lingers. It was a fantasy vacation in so many ways. Our perch was a top floor (3rd) condo on the beach: this meant we looked right into the palm fronds at the top of their trunks, voluptuous green against the aquamarine blues of the water. The weather was sensational; intermittent clouds were welcome protection from the laser rays of the sun.

I didn’t freak out when I was doing my final tests for my PADI dive certificate. That’s me in the pool photo above practicing. Taking off my mask and putting it back on and changing respirators 30 feet deep in the water is not my idea of fun. Chill, don’t panic I told myself. Altogether we did three dives throughout the week, down to 60 feet. Each dive site had it’s own personality. One called Tarpon Terrace was an undersea ledge teeming with shiny silver tarpons wherever you looked. I wanted to reach out and touch as we swam through them, but I was a bit afraid. They were quite big, maybe 3 feet long. On another dive we swam through canyons of rock and coral with the sun streaming through the water. It’s hard to decide where to look, there’s so much vying for your attention. It’s easy to miss the subtle things an experienced diver can see such as lobster eyes peering from the sand or an eel’s tail peeping out of a crevasse.

Handsome hunk outdid himself, I have to say. On different nights, he presented me with a little box to open. In my experience little boxes are always the best. A beautiful silver bracelet one night, an unusual silver necklace the next and a ring that is oxidized steel and gold with small diamonds—hard to explain without photos, but they were all originals and he was spot on with each.

My very favorite adventure was walking into the water whenever I felt like it and just floating, floating, floating. Indescribably delicious is how it made me feel. I can still conjure up the serenity and happiness.

When we returned from vacation, the condo owner emailed me to ask about our stay. I told him the only thing I would change is to move the bedroom from the back of the condo closer to the beach. I didn’t tell him that each night we hauled the mattress from the bedroom to the living room so we could fall asleep listening to the rhythm of the waves lapping at the shore.

My quest now to keep me in the spirit is to find a coffee cup the precise shade of the Caribbean ocean—it’s pretty close to the electric teal color in a peacock feather. I’ll know it when I see it.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Art Propelled. Her post today delivered a swift kick to my rear!

~Broken Heart~

Originally uploaded by MaryleeUSA