“A Black and Blue Heart”

Originally uploaded by MrClean1982


White Heart

Originally uploaded by Pichote

The Facebook Group, Encaustic Art, has issued a new challenge to create an encaustic painting (or two)  based on “The Earth as We’ve Never Seen It,” recently featured in the New Daily News. These incredible photos from USGS National Center for EROS represent various combinations of satellite images from Landsat 7 and Terra Satellites to create the vivid RGB composites seen here. The satellites acquired the images in black and white, and then assigned a different ‘false color’ to each radiation wavelength, or spectral bands, most of which are invisible to the naked eye. You can find out more about these images here.

It sounds like an interesting challenge for the new year. Below are the stunning images that interest me from the 25 total images featured in the article. It will likely depend on my mood the day I start the painting as to which one I use as a jumping off point and how I interpret it. The colors are scrumptious. I’ll share my final painting later this month and link you to the other works entered into the challenge.  Any favorite?

Roller Derby was slightly different then I imagined. My only previous exposure was the 1972 movie, Kansas City Bomber, starring Raquel Welch.

Last night, the Windy City Rollers attracted their largest crowd ever, 3,977, to Saturday night’s season opening. It wasn’t quite the rough and tough, bitchy drama portrayed in the movie, but there was continuous action and ardent screeching fans.

Fun, campy half-time show.

Each 30-minute half consists of two minute jams. Skaters are jammers, pivots and blockers, and have campy names like Val Capone, Ruth Anasia and Red Zeppelin. It looked like great fun. I was itching to lace up a pair of skates and get into the action. My full name is Julia (thus Lia), so I was thinking maybe Julia Seizure.

Next week, we’re taking the adventure to the Cayman Islands. I have one toe dipped in the water already…actually in my fantasies I’m totally immersed. I checked the temperature there today, 84 degrees.

This isn't me. But next week at this time it will be. Can't you just feel the warm, soothing water?

Choo or Cheap?

Jimmy Choo $495 or Cheaper Brand $89?

Whew, this year is off to a fierce start. In a pretty good way I think. The company I’ve been doing a lot of consulting work with over the past two years offered me a permanent position that I decided to take. It was an extremely tough decision (imagine weeping and gnashing of teeth on my part) but Handsome Hunk and I weighed the pluses and minuses and it seems the right thing to do. I’ve tried to balance this commitment with new thinking…if I use up my vacation allotment, I can take unpaid vacation days, and I plan to. This makes a difference when your kids live so far away. So don’t cry Argentina I tell myself—smile and enjoy, there are a lot of people I know who would love to have fulltime work right now. I was taking every consulting job anyway, fearful that the well would dry up, so I didn’t have a lot of wide-open time to paint except for about 6 wks last spring. But that was really the first time I ever felt in the “flow” with my painting and it was very productive. The challenge now is figuring out a way to recreate that while working fulltime.

Trip planning at the beginning of each year is something HH and I love to do.  We’re headed to the Cayman Islands for a week in early February…some diving, swimming to prep for a triathlon (mini version!), walking on the beach and drinking in the sun. Of course I needed a new swimsuit that I ordered online (it beats the anguish of trying a suit on in the store) and a pareo. Plus I bought some XL men’s shirts from Filene’s in fun colors to wear as bathing suit covers…boyfriend shirts are in style I hear.

Speaking of sun, I ordered a Verilux light for seasonal affectiveness disorder that I try to sit in front of for an hour each morning. It’s only been a week but so far so good. I’ve noticed that I’m sleeping much better and feeling more energetic.

Back to trip planning: A spring trip to Victoria, BC to see my daughter and family. A trip in June to Barcelona, Spain, to meet up with my son who lives in Prague. Hopefully a long weekend hiking in one of our beautiful National Parks this summer. Another trip (or two) back to Victoria, and a 4-day Caribbean cruise with college girlfriends to celebrate our major milestone birthdays this fall (I know it’s also hurricane season). Throw in a long weekend in NYC around Memorial Day and you can see why I thought going back to work was a good idea! Love those air miles.

My recipe file. I see it, I rip it out and drop it in here. The Holly Hobby cover is to a little recipe book I got 30+ years ago. It holds some stellar family recipes even though it doesn't look very appetizing!

Last Friday  it was my turn to host book club. It’s fun to dig through my recipe file and come up with something new to make. We read White Tiger, so I opted for ordering Indian food from a nearby restaurant, but I did make a lemon almond sponge cake that was delicious with chocolate hazelnut gelato. Our next book is an older one (late 1980s I think), In Pale Battalions by Robert Goddard.  Today I picked up The Privileges and The Gospel According to Coco Chanel from the library.

It’s been gloomy here in the midwest, so my shoe connoisseur husband and I headed to Nordstrom yesterday to find shoes for me. I can be decisive about many things, but for some reason I get hung up about shoes. I ended up with four pairs thanks to his encouragement. Move over Imelda.

On the way home we stopped at Home Depot and had a 4’x8’ board of plywood cut into pieces for new encaustic paintings. I’m starting to work larger, so one of them will be 3’x4’. My son and book club friends were complimentary about the direction my art is going, so I feel encouraged.

One of the casualties of the new job schedule is my 3x a week 8am boot camp. So I’m back to two personal training sessions a week. I believe in investing in keeping my body healthy, even if I’m probably never again going to be a skinny minny.

Let’s see what else? I capitulated and bought an iphone. I felt too fuddy duddy with my Tracfone.  We’ve also squeezed in a play starring Brian Dennehy and a few romantic date nights in the past weeks. Next weekend we’re going to see The Windy City Rollers, I think Roller Derby qualifies as a new adventure (my keyword for this year)!

PS. The top shoe is the Choo (not the one I got)

Some things don’t go of style but stay elegant and fresh throughout the years. That’s how I feel about the Finnish Marimekko fabric designs

Marimekko fabric design originally introduced in 1960s

that first appeared in the U.S. in the 1960s.  As 2010 approached and I started to anticipate turning 60 in the coming year, I must have subconsciously started channeling the 1960s. Since it was time to do a bit of freshening up in the apartment and I had a new sewing machine, I selected two Marimekko prints (there’s a wide selection available at many places online) and made a reversible duvet to spice up our bedroom. We also bought a versatile hounds tooth area rug to liven up the living room.

Sometimes minor changes like these quell my restlessness for change in my surroundings—cheaper than a new place or a second home!  I’ll probably swap out new marble squares around the fireplace and put some different colors on the walls when the spirit moves me. And I would love, love, love to take out all the beige travertine marble in our master bath and replace it with white subway tiles that have a tinge of aqua to them.  I’m never quite satisfied since I  appreciate all types of décor—pastel colors, subtle and austere and lively colors, eclectic and homey.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have several houses in exotic places to explore all sides of your decorating personality?

New Marimekko fabric duvet, wild colorful side!

New Marimekko fabric duvet subtle, tranquil side.

My favorite configuration of the duvet...folded down over the pillow to expose the bright, colorful side!

Hounds tooth carpet gives a bit of spark to the living room.

Sha na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye to the Oh’s, the Aughts or whatever you call our current decade. I remember how jazzed we were to welcome it in. Handsome hunk and I joined the throngs of people at Chicago’s Navy Pier for fireworks on New Year’s Eve 2000. Actually there were fireworks upon fireworks upon fireworks (my version of heaven) as we looked down the Lake Michigan coastline to see all the celebrations illuminating the sky. Afterward, I toddled (hobbling the final few blocks) several miles home wearing high heels, no unoccupied cabs available. It was an exhilarating, glorious night.

Like all decades, the Ohs were a roller coaster. The dot com era flamed in and out so quickly it seems now like an illusion, though its technology increasingly dominates our lives. My husband and I were both out of a job for a year, overlapping six months during which time we watched in realtime horror as planes soared into the towers. Loss of loved ones, marriages, new little beings coming into our lives, travel and the realization that we aren’t young any longer—and that we aren’t old. Then there are the events that happened worldwide which will be chronicled in countless articles, blogs and TV shows this coming week. Sonny and Cher had it right, the beat goes on–whether you’re dancing to it or not.

Now it’s time to welcome the twenty-tens, the tens, the teens or whatever we end up dubbing this new decade. 2010 looks like a friendly number to me. I too will move into a new decade in another way since I was born in 1950. Vintage me.

My husband and I have decided that “ADVENTURE” will be our theme for 2010. It’s a wide open concept. Can you sum up your personal aspirations for this clean-slate, shiny, hopeful new year in one word?

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.

My posts have been very intermittent the past few months—just not feeling the inspiration, I think. Consulting and traveling have been occupying my time. I was watching last night’s Charlie Rose program and a few ideas arose in his discussions that caught my interest.

Harold Evans

Rose’s first interview was with Sir Harold Evans (former editor of “The Sunday Times” and the “Times of London,” former president/publisher of Random House, and Tina Brown’s husband). In these roles he has witnessed firsthand the evolution of 20th century journalism.

He has a new book out, My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times, that sounds as if it’s worth reading. What caught my ear (I was multi-tasking and only listening) was when Charlie asked Evans about people he admired. Bill Clinton politically, he responded. Charlie asked if it was because of his “gifts” and Evans replied,  “yes, though he’s squandered some of them.”

It’s a thought-provoking concept, squandering one’s gifts. To lose (as an advantage or opportunity) through negligence or inaction is the applicable definition of the word, squander. What are the gifts that you and I possess that we squander? Worth a ponder, perhaps.

Rebecca Miller

The second interview of the program was with Rebecca Miller (writer/director) and Robin Wright (actor) about the film, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. Wright described it as a melodic, intense but happy movie. Miller said the book and subsequent screenplay were inspired by an acquaintance she met many years after she had known her originally and this woman’s transformation from wild

Robin Wright

youth to sedate mother. She was intrigued by the selves inside each of us, nestled within one another like a Matryoshka doll. I often hear people remark when they look back, “it’s like a different life, I was a different person.” Who are the selves nested within you and me and who will be the next “doll” that contains who we are now?

I just returned from spending one week with my daughter and her family. She has two sons (ages one and three) and a new daughter. Yes, I’m still sane but also suffering from cuteness withdrawal and sighing with relief that I, unlike my daughter, am able to sleep through the night. I have been reflecting on my own children as infants and toddlers now grown and so far, far away.  After returning from a visit, I often contemplate my relationship with my daughter and my mother throughout the years. Now I wonder how this new little female in our lives will evolve and experience her mother. Sometimes the pendulum swings!

PS. Looking at the previous post and this one, I think it must be the season for introspection for me.

I came across this intriguing article last spring and saved the link thinking that I would create my own list of Ten Things I’d Love to Tell My Younger Self. It’s still on my to do list and I’m thinking that it might be interesting to chunk it by decade and also include a list for me at my age today. Instead of waiting for me to get around to my list, I think it is worth sharing the original article with you. You can find the entire list of ten by clicking here.  Meanwhile, these were my favorites from the original article:

You are at least ten times prettier than you think you are.
That holds true no matter how pretty you already think you are! Don’t believe me? Ask your mother/auntie/grannie if she thought she was pretty when she was twenty. She’ll say no. Then find a photo of her at that age. See what I mean?

The only thing you should be faking is confidence.

If you don’t have it yet, pretend you do. In every new situation pretend you’re not nervous, pretend you’re not afraid. After a few times doing this, the pretend part disappears.

No matter how old you get, remember what it was like to be a nine-year old girl.
Remember the feeling of freedom. If you’ve already forgotten, do a cartwheel. You can so still do one. Savor that feeling. Wake up with it every day. You’ll stay young until the day you die.

Here are a few things I would put on my personal list:

Don’t discourage yourself or let others discourage you. Perseverance often beats talent.

Being nice and being fair doesn’t mean letting the other person win/sacrificing yourself.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What would you tell your younger self?