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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.

“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


“A Black and Blue Heart”

Originally uploaded by MrClean1982


White Heart

Originally uploaded by Pichote

It’s become clearer to me that I, like countless others, struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The doldrums begin to get a grip on me in October and by Christmas things start to feel hopeless though there are bright spots and breakthroughs along the way. Yesterday I struggled through the day. Not one Christmas gift had I purchased. Not even candy for a stocking. “Pick a movie,” my husband prodded. So I did. On the way out of the apartment, I reached into my jewelry box for my Christmas glitz ring (from a treasured colleague and friend) and popped it on in an effort to be festive. We sat in a new movie theater watching Up in the Air, surrounded by other people our age with children perhaps far away—their times of anticipating or playing Santa just happy memories.

Going to the movie started to break my mood. It was rainy and cold outside and afterwards we walked awhile before we found a cab to take us to Kiki’s Bistro, a favorite haunt. We knew it was a long shot since we didn’t have reservations. We were warmly welcomed, told them we were flexible and sat down at the copper-clad bar for a glass of champagne. Suddenly I felt glad to be alive. It seemed like Christmas. I felt extremely fortunate and relieved that I had shaken off the bad mood. They found a romantic corner for us and it was so wonderful to share this intimate evening with my fabulous handsome hunk husband. As we left the restaurant, I noticed the baskets filled with cellophane wrapped oranges that said “Joyeux Noel” and grabbed one to take with us.

It’s been a special holiday. Though we were alone on Christmas Eve, my son and his girlfriend are visiting from Prague but currently spending time with his dad. When we got home there was a Christmas phone message from my daughter in Victoria, BC that touched me because she has adopted the Jewish religion and the call was an unexpected nod to her memories of our Christmases together. Today my stepson will stop by for waffles and this week I will travel to my family to ring in the New Year. Life is good. Thank you to my husband, who persevered yesterday to make our Christmas a wonderful experience. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

A special JOYEUX NOEL to you and those you love!!!!!!

What a treat to watch my son search for special ornaments as he and his girlfriend helped trim the tree. One ornament, a ceramic chipmunk (a nod to Chester Chipmunk) and the one above that was on my grandmother's tree when I was little. I used to watch it with fascination at her Christmas Eve parties.


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Boo! From Beau. My friend Florence carved this likeness of her dog.

Watching the TV series, Mad Men, can send me sauntering down memory lane. Sometimes, it’s downright spooky.  Last Sunday’s final scene of the Draper family trick-or-treating brought to mind my days of power trick-or-treating. I remember the excitement building as we waited for my Dad to get home from work so he could take us out. Pumpkins glowed on all the porches, little witches, Supermen, hobos, princesses and gypsies flooded the streets and neighbors solicited for the March of Dimes. All of us little boomers were oblivious to the outside world as we traipsed around brand new suburban blocks of brick ranch houses filling our pillowcases with goodies. The news of homes that were giving out homemade popcorn balls,  cookies or caramel apples spread like wildfire.

My Mom stayed home and handed out candy while  Dad took us on the trek that often lasted several hours as we ran from house to house, block after block after block. When we returned home, we spread newspapers on the living room floor and emptied our half-full pillowcases, eating and sorting and trading our goodies. The loot went into individual bowls that we were able to nibble from over the following days— a snack for lunch bags, after school and after dinner–until the only candy remaining in the bottom of our bowls was lollipops sans the tootsie roll centers.

Because we lived in a small town, my children experienced a similar Halloween experience to the one I had. My Dad and Mom came by to enjoy the fun. Dad got a kick out of taking the kids out, and my Mom and I oohed and ahhed over the costumes and dropped candy into outstretched bags. I didn’t fret about glass in the kids’ candy or razor blades in apples like parents in the city did.

Today in most places I think trick or treating is a very controlled event. Parents are worried and rightfully so unfortunately.DSCF2454 At work today, there was a Halloween party for the children of employees. The office was creatively decorated, and little ones paraded by desks collecting candy as their proud parents enjoyed showing them off. One little boy, maybe about 2 years old, wore a little business suit and tie and his hair was slicked back, he was dressed as Mad Men’s Don Draper!

DSCF2457 Without little ones around, Handsome Hunk and I have gotten sloppy about some of our holidays and Halloween is one of them. We bought a turban squash that is standing in for a pumpkin this year. Lame, I know.

But, my daughter’s due date is mid-November, maybe the little one will surprise us all by making a Halloween appearance!

What’s your favorite Halloween memory? What are you doing to celebrate this year?

DSCF2342

24"x30" Encaustic, work-in-progress.

I’m out of shape in every way you can imagine and I really feel it. I haven’t been in my studio working except for a dib here and a dab there. Nor have I made it to boot camp in the last five weeks. I’ve been out of town on vacation or business, or just plain working fulltime at my consulting gig. And maybe you’ve noticed I haven’t even blogged regularly in the past month.

As much as I appreciate the mental challenge of work, I miss the real me I was uncovering, as hokey as that sounds. It seems (at least to me) that most successful artists are compelled from childhood to create, create, create. I’ve never had that driven feeling until just a while back when my days were free to paint for almost two months. Then another consulting gig came along and I was back to work fulltime. My entire adult life, I’ve chastised myself for not making time to paint—thinking I just must be lazy. So when that compelled-to-create feeling enveloped me I was feeling pretty empowered.

My “aha” moment came a few weeks ago. Here it is: when I work fulltime and get involved with a client and a project, it seems to gradually encroach and occupy all my brainpower and leave little room for much else. It ISN’T laziness, I just can’t operate successfully at high levels using both sides of my brain at the same time. Art takes time and devotion, at least for me. Over the years, raising kids and/or working fulltime left me with little time for surrendering to my creative inclinations. My photographer, user-experience friend, Albert, has the same conundrum and has come to a similar conclusion. We commiserate and search for solutions.

The challenge now is carving out blocks of time to get back to the studio, because I am craving it. My consulting gig recently has been extended through the end of October—good for our budget— but I’m pleased to tell you that I did stipulate Mondays off. Back to boot camp and the studio, at least on Mondays!

Was anyone but me stunned this week to realize that summer 2009 is history?

Gehry Bandshell, Millennium Park, Summer Jazz Concert

Gehry Bandshell, Millennium Park, Summer Jazz Concert

Summer is winding down. When I lived in a quaint resort town in northern Michigan years ago when raising my children, I would now be feeling the onset of panic, followed by melancholy that right after Christmas would become depression, and by April I would be contemplating life alternatives. I skied, both cross-country and downhill, but it just wasn’t enough. When I moved south to Chicago I gained three to four months of better weather and some “juice” to my life.

Now, though I still hate to see summer wane, I don’t dread winter. There are plays to see, concerts to attend, jazz clubs to huddle in on cold nights, art museums to linger in, and people out and about. I feel less alone and less desolate inside myself.

Willie's Bakery, patio at breakfast, Victoria BC

Willie's Bakery, patio at breakfast, Victoria BC

I’m blogging from Victoria, British Columbia, where we’re visiting our daughter and her family — two of the sweetest little boys, both under three years old, and another baby due in November. DSCF2097I wish my daughter luck and sanity. I hate being so far away, especially since I think my daughter and her husband could use some help once in a while. Thank goodness for Skype and air miles. Having the boys yell, “GG,” and light up when they see me, is the icing on the cake to getting older! When we visit, we stay above Willie’s Bakery in a lovely apartment near the downtown harbor. The gulls screech us awake each morning!

With Ted Kennedy’s death, I’ve been struck by the immense amount of difference that he and his sister, Eunice Shriver, made in people’s lives despite the tragedies they bore. It is humbling to think about.

And the health care debate continues to amaze me. Have we no compassion? Do we think only of ourselves? We’re the only civilized country in the world that does not have some sort of public program. And we’re not even providing tiptop healthcare for people and employers who pay through the nose each month to maintain insurance coverage. It’s shameful. Even those of us who have health insurance through our jobs are just a layoff or perhaps a devastating accident away from financial ruin.

I have to admit that I’ve been enjoying my consulting gig. The current job is over the end of September, and I hope to get a bit of a break so I can get back to my art. I’ve been working on a piece, but there is not the same momentum, the same flow. I don’t feel as if I’m making progress artistically, I’m just dabbling when I have time. Dollars or art…how does one choose?

I know summer doesn’t officially end until late September, but for most of us Labor Day signals the denouement. What are you doing to take advantage of the last days of the summer of 2009?

Last night handsome hunk and I went to a fundraising event—it wasn’t a gathering of the $25,000-a-dinner crowd, more like the $15 per person admittance fee alternative creative community. During the course of the evening our friends introduced us to other people they knew and several of them instead of taking my outstretched hand, threw their arms around me and gave me a big fat hug. This pushed some buttons for me.

I tend to regard gushy, effusive people as suspect. Growing up, my family hugged and kissed each other, extended family and close friends, but we didn’t gush. We didn’t squeal and say things we didn’t mean while crushing someone to our bosoms—either friend or foe—as if they were our long lost cousin who had been lost in the jungles of South America and we had heard that they had been eaten alive by something or other and we never thought in a trillion years we would see them again, o-my-gosh and now here you are!

Granted, I was shy and that sometimes came across as aloof or snobby I’ve been told, and my Mother recalls her Mom saying she was her “Tennessee Touch-Me-Not” when she was a teen. Perhaps my family could be categorized as affectionate but reserved. I always thought gushy equaled false. As in salesperson, I-like-you-and-say-these-things-because-I-see-$$-false.

I don’t recall encountering effusive people until after I graduated high school and worked in a resort community where people from all over the states congregated at their summer cottages. Suddenly I was being squealed over and hugged. I would immediately stiffen. It was disquieting to me. They didn’t seem genuine. It made me feel as if I were a shy little flower in comparison. They didn’t know me in the least. Perhaps they were just emulating their parents or friends. Gregarious and loud seemed to go hand-in-hand with effusive and gushy. “Fake” is how I saw and felt it all. Handsome Hunk grew up in the summer cottage crowd, but he doesn’t quite carry it off. Every once in a while he resurrects the effusive grin and hug around certain people, and I can see he is pretending. I watch, cringe inwardly and endure.

I recently read somewhere that both aloof & effusive people struggle with how to express emotion appropriately. I would extend that to include handling some social situations. In a few weeks I have to travel again to the land of the effusive for a weekend. It would be nice if I could just go with the flow. Handsome hunk will read this, shake his head and mutter, “fat chance.”

Photo of the weekend:

Our run along the lake was a little later than usual today. But we brought a blanket and the paper and plopped lakeside after to relax. And, we grabbed a hot dog and fries to share on this gorgeous summer day.

Our run along the lake was a little later than usual today and the sun and heat got to me. We brought a blanket and the paper and plopped lakeside afterwards to relax. And, we grabbed a healthy meal of a hot dog & fries from a park cafe to share on this gorgeous summer day.

Enjoy the week ahead!