Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas to All

It's Christmas! Yay! For all of you humbuggians (hi Dive). I hope you appreciate some of the fun and the magic of the holiday.

I thought I would post a few photos of last week's Nor'easter in progress. Doug put the lights up and the snow came. I liked the effect of the lights "under" the snow.

The walk was shoveled a few times, but the snow didn't care.

It is cold, but it is pretty.

Tbe snow finally stopped late Saturday night leaving us between 12 and 16 inches of the stuff. I must admit that I like snow this time of year. It is still around on Christmas Day.
On Christmas Eve we passed the boot. The Roadcap family added red suspenders. We decided this year that our college students should be eligible. Unfortunately, Melissa "won" the boot. You can see the look of fear and loathing in her eyes. What will her roommate think?

Okay. I could have posted the Mountain Dew Christmas Tree.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Frivolous Silly Pet Post

Golden Retriever on Couch. I see a potential poster here. Maybe a motivational phrase...."Happiness is a warm couch."

Life's a Bitch and then you Die...unless you are a cat.

Or a Golden Retriever. "The humans are gone. I can sleep in their bed".

Unless you are:

Fiona: "I am one-half Border Collie., one-half Golden Effing Retriever. " (We don't talk about that side of the family). Freja can have the couch, the bed, the carpet, whatever. I am a working dog goddammit. I must herd something. I like it outside in the snow. I don't acknowledge the fact that I had twelve stitches on my chest. I am tough. I am woman. I am BITCH.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Prediction Challenge!

Time for my winter prognostication. After all I live in the land of the groundhog. Punxatawney Phil is my neighbor.

I must admit that I love to predict the severity of the winter. It's a crapshoot, of course, but WTF? Weather prediction is a fun, wholesome recreational activity. If I'm wrong, "Oh well." If I am right, I can smile smugly and think, "ha." No harm. No foul.

For the record I am predicting a cold, wet, snowy winter.

I am basing my prediction on nuts. I swear by the nuts. The more nuts, the more snow.

We walk through the woods a lot. I notice the nuts on the ground.

I have noticed a correlation between the number of nuts and the severity of the winter. Few nuts - light winter (the last several years). Numerous nuts - nasty winter. The last time I noticed we had 36 inches of snow during one storm.

Some people predict winter's wrath by other methods...wooley bear caterpillars, hornet nest heights, the Old Farmers Almanac.

I'm curious to hear your predictions and methods. We could have a contest...or not.

If this is boring to you, I apologize. Most of you know I'm a weather geek.

Geeks Rule!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Ocean in November

Surf fisherman casting off the Longport Jetty in November. This is so familiar and beautiful to me. I love when the fog obscures the horizon. Where does the ocean end and the sky begin?
I always considered Longport to be our beach.
Mom thought I would have my wedding on this jetty. I didn't. We threw Mom's ashes into the ocean here. It is a spiritual, transcendant kind of place.
My favorite time to visit the ocean is during the "off season".

I make it a point to make the three mile drive to Longport everytime I visit Dad. Longport is a quiet, residential beach town dangling on the edge of Absecon Island. Absecon Island is better known for it's top end, Atlantic City

The crowds are gone. The sun may or may not be shining.

It doesn't matter. I love the Atlantic without sun, beach blankets and lifeguards. She is beautiful in her monochromatic moodiness.

Thanksgiving Thursday was warm and foggy. We are walking along the Longport beach toward Atlantic City. You can see a few Margate high rises, but the casinos of Atlantic City are obscured by the fog. I like it much better this way.

We found Jake and Elwood jamming on someone's deck. They didn't know we were coming.

This is the view from the Longport jetty looking out across the inlet to Ocean City. The distant bridge takes you to that other shore resort. The place where I used to hang out when I was a teenager. I remember beach jams at the Ninth Street Pavilion. If we hung out long enough, someone would come by with a guitar, a fiddle, a set of bongos. We'd start out on the pavillion but when the crowd grew we'd end up on the beach. The rent-a-cops would try to kick us off. The ferris wheel is usually visible, but not today.

Perhaps a painting will come from these photos?
This might be more suitable for a graphite subtraction?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not the Cone of Shame

Fiona is proudly displaying her war wounds.

Every Monday night, the family rolls the garbage cans out to the road. The dogs love this.

Fiona is one half border collie, one half golden retriever. The border collie personality is dominant.

She chases and herds everything. By everything I mean the garbage can on wheels, cars, the cat, the other dog, the children, wild animals, bugs, toads, frogs, and me.

She ran off barking after something on Monday. When she came back, she didn't look so good. We did not "see" anything on Monday. Black fur hides blood.

On Tuesday, we noticed she was a bit sluggish. When my daughter tried to hug her, she noticed that Fiona was a bit "cut".

Cut badly, to the muscle. She required overnight hospitalization, 12 large stitches and this lovely drain. She wears a T-Shirt instead of the Cone of Shame. The first day she wore an anti-bullying T-shirt. On this day, she wore "Refuse to Lose" on one side and "Go Ask George" on the other. My daughters both loved this shirt. We are not sure where it came from. Today she is wearing a girl scout Tee.

You can sortof see "Refuse to Lose" here. Those are my hobbit legs. I covered the hairy feet with sneakers. Note the Bitchen Red Honda Civic in the background behind the wood pile.
Fiona is one dignified dog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Happy, Joy, Joy!

I need happy thoughts and positive energy folks. My husband's best friend from Boston, "Michael", was diagnosed with Acute Lymphotic Leukemia a couple of weeks ago. Today I hear he has some sort of infection. I also heard he went into kidney failure 14 hours ago. Thoughts, prayers, Love, peace and happiness.... Think upon these things. I want to muster as much positive energy as possible.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cancer Sucks

I'm sorry dear friends but I've been a bit preoccupied lately.

It seems that f**##ing cancer has been rearing its ugly head.

In the last two weeks, I've learned that my brother-in-law has been "revisited" by cancer. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer. "They" did the surgery and chemo. He was healthy for a year. "They" just found a new tumor near his esophagus. He went to Houston for surgery. Dr. Joe is 58. He is an Electrophysiologist. (He installs Pacemakers). He is now "recovering" in Virginia.

This past week was surreal. I was poking around on Facebook, playing Mafia Wars, icing people, stocking up on tommy guns, investing in my Strip Club, you know...basically minding my own business.

I received a Chat prompt from my husband's best friend. He said "Hi! I'm in the hospital with some strange undiagnosed illness." Turns out it was Acute Lymphotic Leukemia. His brother died of it when he was like "eleven". Michael is fifty. Michael is one of the most amazing, intelligent and inspired persons I have ever met. He and Doug (my husband) went to graduate school together. Michael went on to get his doctorate in education. He was a high school principal for a while. He had difficulty with the political B.S. in that environment. The district created a position for him. He became a liaison between the district and the community. He continues to inspire people.

Michael is a trooper. He started a "Care Pages" blog to write about his illness.

Some of you probably know that my mother died of lung cancer three years ago. My mother-in-law died almost exactly one year before that.

Some cynics might say that cancer is a disease caused by bad lifestyle choices (i.e.smoking). Okay Mom and Mrs. Williams smoked.

Dr. Joe doesn't smoke, rarely drinks. He is thin. In fact, he is one of the most health conscious, persons I have ever met.

Michael doesn't smoke, rarely drinks. He is the most optimistic, positive person I have ever met. Seriously. No exaggeration intended. I don't get it. None of these persons "deserved" this disease.

It is random. It sucks.

Sorry if I have not been in a funny blogging mood lately.

I don't get it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Happy Halloween Everyone! I found all these lovely photos on the internet. Not one is an original photo.
In my defense, I will state that the entire Williams family, having succumbed to the H1N1 virus, aka Swine Flu, have been a bit delirious as of late.
I feel that I've missed my favorite time of year.
Fall is the time that I am typically painting out of doors. I did paint on the one day I wasn't running a fever. It was also the one day it didn't rain. The painting sucks.
Instead, I am surfing the internet for outrageous Halloween Costumes. A Kate Gosselin wig! Who woulda thunk? Doesn't everyone want to be Kate? Okay. There is the tacky and the tasteless and then there is the amazing!
This one is really, really amazing! Tasteful, creative, beautiful. I would do this.

This is what Halloween is all about folks. A chance to transform yourselves into an imaginary spirit, sprite, creature, monster or whatever. Have fun being creative.
Our school district outlawed costumes back when my oldest was in first grade.
They claimed it was "devil worship". These were the same people who put Dover on the map for "Intelligent Design".
And then we have Martha.
This little ditty was credited to the American icon "Martha Stewart" . WTF?
Uuhh? I wouldn't dress my child like the Thanksgiving turkey?
That is too effing weird.

Thankfully, the baby is just enjoying the attention.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Swine Flu, Stinkbugs and other Vermin

Shazza is having mouse problems. We are being bombarded by bugs! First the stinkbugs. Those ugly shieldshaped insects that cling to the windows, the siding, the screens. You open a door and they swarm with a horrible buzzing sound. If you swat, they emit a foul odor. Worse yet, they cling to your clothing. I endured the unfortunate experience of unwittingly wearing a shoulder stinkbug while shopping! Can you imagine? Fortunately I am not a celebrity. Can you imagine the tabloids? I thought the store clerk was looking at me funny.

The recent Nor'easter seemed to clear some of these critters. They are still around but they are being replaced by aggressive flesh-eating ladybugs. You all know what I'm talking about. Those adorable orange mini-beetles with the black polka dots. Don't trust them. They swarm our house every October. They invaded my youngest daughter's bedroom and snacked on her flesh. She was covered in mini-beetle welts. We had to release a bug bomb.

They're ba-ack.

This is of secondary importance compared to the Big Bug - the Swine flu. Daughter A has come down with it. She was sent home from school Monday with strict instructions not to return until at least 24 hours after becoming fever free (without the benefit of ibuprofen). Looks like she will be home again tomorrow. Daughter D is now coughing. I am missing about one fifth of my students. Many apparently have the swine flu. It has been confirmed through testing. There is a lot of denial going around. For what? School districts are being hush-hush about it.

I called the pediatrician and described my daughter's symptoms. He also spoke directly with A. He told me it sounds like H1N1. They are getting hundreds of calls. I could bring her in if I wanted to wait until midnight to get in and get confirmation. That's okay, I say, I'll take your word for it. Fortunately the symptoms are milder than the hype. Still she is sick and miserable. We have stocked up on hand sanitizers, but I am out of kleenex. Campbells Chicken Noodle soup tastes funny to her. She does not like my homemade soup with real chicken stock. (Maybe she wants to try it again?) I think the Swine Flu beat the vaccine. Our area did not qualify for the early vaccine. Oh well. So much for the hype.

It is now Day 2 at home and Daughter A is obviously feeling a bit better. She was up on her compy giggling and watching Maru the cat. He is an adorable Scottish Fold who lives in Japan. The doting human films his every move. Life goes on after the big bug! Check him out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The National Apple Harvest Festival

On Sunday, my daughter convinced us that we should take her to the National Apple Harvest Festival in neighboring Adams County, PA. We hadn't gone for a few years. Doug and I used to work the ticket booth eons ago b.c. (before children). You should know that Pennsylvania is the #3 apple producer in the USA. There are about ten thousand acres of apple orchard in Adams County (just north of Gettysburg). Adams County is home to Musselmans, Motts and Lucky Leaf brands of applesauce and apple juice. The Biglerville High School Football team is known as the Canners.

The National Apple Harvest Festival is the closest thing I've been to an old time, country fair. The only rides are pony rides and hay rides. Kids can make scarecrows and participate in pie-eating contests for fun. Exhibits include antique tractor, steam engine and car exhibitions.

There are lots of apple products. Apple cider, apple sauce, apple fritters, apple pie, apple sausage and plain old apples.

You can see here an old fashioned, steam powered apple cider press. You could buy freshly pressed cider by the glass or the gallon.

The air smelled of apples, and freshly roasted pit beef. I love a pit beef sandwich on a roll with fresh horseradish.

And for those folks who want something a little less healthy....

There is "The Happy Belly". Supposedly Amish made ribbon chips and Fried Oreos.

I could not even think about it.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunny and crisp afternoon. We bought some jewelry and freshly roasted almonds from the vendors.

My daughter's friend is originally from El Salvador. She tried apple pie for the first time! Bluegrass and country music bands were playing at several stages throughout the day. Elvis was heard in and around the buildings (but seen only in bright green Chuck Taylors and skinny pants).

Johnny Cash is alive and well!
This guy was rocking out the Folsom Prison Blues at the Cider Barrel Stage.

He sounded so much like Johnny. I had a better picture, but I think I uploaded the wrong one.

In fact I have a bunch of other photos but blogger would only allow me to load four tonight.

Hope you all enjoy them!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yosemite Park - Family Tour 2009

Majestic Half Dome - Partially obscured by smoke - caused by natural forest fires due to lightning strikes.

Astonishing waterfalls.
El Capitan and the entrance to Yosemite Valley. Half Dome can be seen in the distance.

Ken Burns. You've gotta love him. His new series is about our national parks. I think it's called Our Best Idea.

You've gotta love a guy who focuses on the good and the beautiful.

I was focusing on the falls. I didn't realize my husband was posing. I did manage to get his hat. (or cut off his head). Heehee if I edited this photo before I posted it... Oh well.

So take a break from Kanye West, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and other obnoxious Americans.

Take a break from politics.

Remember that there were once a few visionaries among us. My Grandfather Harrison was a chauffer for one of them - Theodore Roosevelt. Not bad for a guy just off the boat from Ireland.
The National Park Service preserved some national treasures from land hungry developers.

I've only visited three...Yosemite in California, Acadia in Maine, Shenandoah in Virginia.
This was my second visit to Yosemite.
Some of the views weren't quite as clear as they were twenty two years ago due to forest fires.
The National Park Service Rangers have come to realize that forest fires can be a "good" thing. They are part of the natural cycle of things. The redwoods and the sequoia trees are benefitted by fire. I have enough information to bore all of you for many future posts. I am a nature and weather geek who loves this kind of thing.

Doug and Delaney climbed up to the falls.

Here's to the good things.

Don't let the turkeys get you down. Do any of you remember the Boynton cartoons? (I used to have that on a T-Shirt).

Friday, September 25, 2009

So much to paint, so little time...

I have been insanely busy schlepping the kids around, attending football games, visiting colleges, teaching, etc. Sorry if I haven't been visiting your blogs much. I did manage to paint once this week but have nothing to show for it. My latest paintings have been crap.

It seems that I must spend my Friday nights at football games and my Saturdays at college open houses. Sundays are for grocery shopping and other household chores.

I'm not complaining, but a bit exhausted. I am accumulating post material.

I graduated somewhere in there. Pictures to follow when I have time. Haven't been to the gym. I have been walking with the dogs for exercise.

Things should calm down in the next couple of weeks. I hope.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Peer Groups and College Visits

This is my oldest daughter's senior year in high school. Little did I know what a stressful year it would be.

It is time to visit colleges. I need to find an institution of higher learning that will stimulate my daughter's young brain and provide her with training for the future. I also have to find a place where my daughter will feel comfortable. The brochures in the guidance counselor's office say: "It is imperative to visit colleges to determine which school will be the best match for your child."

We have visited three colleges thus far. The Art Schools are winning.
The first state system of higher education school did not cut it. The students were wearing Abercrombie and Hollister.

I didn't take any pictures at universities. I did notice that the Art students looked a lot more like my daughter.

The following photos are from Otakon 2009. These are the my daughter's peeps.

Cosplay at Otakon. Trenchcoats and military style uniforms were all the rage this year.

Trenchcoats and uniforms again. White and Blonde wigs are always in fashion.
Green, blue and purple hair are always in vogue.

These photos were from July 2009 in Baltimore.
Doug and I sat across the street at an outdoor cafe. We nursed a few local brews and enjoyed the sights.
They were not considered outrageous by any means. Daughter was in control of the camera and taking photos of characters she liked.
Daughter is seriously interested in digital animation and game arts. We visited the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Saturday. The kids were not in costume, but they dressed quite creatively. Hair came in many colors and at least 75% of them wore glasses. She felt at home. Isn't that part of it?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Conewago Spring - New Painting

I decided to stop whining and start photographing my paintings. I apologize, but I have crappy editing software on my laptop. This is a square format 20x20 oil painting. I laid it on the ground. Couldn't quite get it right without distortion.

Here is the latest of what I call my maniacal obliteration paintings. I paint, then I scrapewith wood scraps, clay tools, etc., then I palette knife, then I scrape. I need to work on it on at least three sittings, but I have to allow 3-4 days in between for the layers to dry. I have been listening to Modest Mouse and Vampire Weekend. They are a bit subversive. The subject matter is traditional, but the treatment is maniacal. I'm having fun. If you like it, leave a comment. If you don't, leave a comment. After I photographed it I saw a few inconsistencies that I might address.

This is an edited post. I managed to crop the photo better. The first photo annoyed me to no end.

I have been obliterating some other older paintings that I thought looked too picky. I'm just having fun. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy F____ Birthday

"F" as in Five-O. What did you think I meant?

Okay I'm in a ranty mood. It's my party and I'll cry if I want to... Dammit!

Hawaii Five-O. Thanks Dive, I'll use that.

Is it a coincidence that I received a notice to schedule my first colonoscopy yesterday? I think not.

Now when I go to the doctor for routine tests they "find" something.

It kind of sucks. The old bod is not what it used to be. I vowed to lose ten pounds this year. I am failing. Major failing. I joined a gym. I do go at least two days a week. I walk with my dogs on the other days. I rejoined WW. I track everything I eat and after two weeks lose .6 lbs. .6 LBS? Then my doctor says, "You could lose a few pounds." I want to say "F-U", but resist. I am effing trying. I do not eat fast food, butter or donuts. I haven't had ice cream in years. I do not bake for my family because I am afraid I will eat it. I do get at least five fruits and vegetables every day. I read labels. I do not eat trans fats, or high fructose corn syrup. WTF?

Yes, perhaps I am paying for the abuse of my body during my younger, foolish years. I was a teenager in the 70s. I was full of angst. I might have done stupid things.

One of my students told me her mom was born during my sophomore year in high school. This student was a junior. I felt ancient.

Age does have some advantages. For instance, I teach ceramics. Our first lesson was the "pinchpot". I told them they could use it as a "bowl". I heard snickers..."bowl, heehee." I think Teachable Moment. I say, " You know the movie "Dazed and Confused?" That was my era. What do you think every high schooler was making out of clay in the 70s?" They are stunned that I would know about that. With age comes wisdom. (Not that I would have made a "bowl").

It is a major birthday and I did not receive a call or card from my father. I know he just got back from Wales and England last Sunday. I understand the late card. This is the first year I didn't get a call. I'm trying not to feel hurt.

Okay. I'm not a kid anymore. Buck it up Fatso.

Friday, August 28, 2009

First Week of School!

Just a note to say that I have finished teaching my first week of the 2009/2010 school year. Sorry if I have not participated in the writing challenge or visited your blogs much. The first week of the year is extremely challenging. I am teaching ELEVEN classes! Ihave 150 new students. I'm a little swamped. Love you. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Steam Punk Fashion

Tomorrow, Monday, is my official first day back to the 2009-2010 Academic year.

Who knows what my fashion conscious high school students will be wearing?

My oldest daughter, a senior this year, wants to go "Steam Punk" .

Pictured is a Steam Punk fashion show from the 2009 Otakon festival in Baltimore, Maryland. (We spent the weekend after our California adventure in Baltimore with five teenage girls).

I am not an expert on "Steam Punk" but it's all about metal and gears, leather, bustierres, uniforms, piratey stuff, etc. Metal breastplates are cool, as are prosthetic arms and other devices.

"Brown" is the new black. I have been gradually adding brown to my daughter's black wardrobe. Lucky for me, brown and black still go together.

(Note some of the interesting audience members).

Pair your metal breastplate, with flowing, peasant skirts, pirate pants and gears.

Metal jet packs are all the rage!
I'm thinking the Mad Max movies were the inspiration for these as cool old fashioned goggles are in.

This one is the best! I'm not sure if the wings work or not.
In this seminar, my daughters and their three friends learned the ins and outs of the steam punk fashion rage.
Back to school shopping has become a bit more difficult. Where do I get this stuff?
I have found pirate pants and peasanty, blouses. We got a "uniform" type jacket at Alcatraz.
Oh, and I would have been so into this when I was that age.
Stay tuned for more Otakon fun, including the Gothic Lolita fashion show!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pizza Perfect!

This is a post about PIZZA. REAL Pizza. That means I am not recognizing the phonies. You know who you are: Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Papa Johns or Little Ceasars. I want the good stuff. The authentic family "hide your recipe in the safe deposit" box pizza.

I grew up at the Jersey Shore where I always had access to "good" pizza. Mack and Manco's on the Ocean City boardwalk was "good". It was a small family business, with a secret family recipe. When I go to visit Dad, I know that Primo's is another local business that is consistently delicious. I lived in New York City during the late 70's. I knew I could always find a slice and a soda for an inexpensive lunch (like $1.60).

In Philly, my Italian painting teacher, Philomena Dellarippa (sp?), complained that pizza was garbage food. Her family back in Italy would never lower themselves to eat that garbage. (I guess it depends on your family). She might have been aristocracy. I don't know. I've never been to Italy. I desperately WANT to go but not for pizza.

She did not sway me. I continued to consume the contemptible crap. I took it for granted that "good" pizza was always available.

That is until I moved to Cleveland, Ohio. I actually loved Clevelan. I lived there for a couple of years and realized that they just didn't know how to make pizza. I mean, I thought, how hard can it be to make a crust, cover it with tomato sauce and cheese and throw it in the oven? I didn't realize it was an art form. In 1980, a local shop "introduced" New York "style" pizza. They made a honest effort.

I ate pizza in Cleveland and it just didn't taste "the same".

In 1984 I moved to York county, PA (via Philadelphia). Once again. We couldn't find "good" pizza. I mean it was okay. It just wasn't "good". I'm happy to report that things have gotten better in Dodge.

My brother told me that you couldn't get "good" pizza in California. I posted something about that and inadvertently insulted Katie. I felt horrible. I didn't mean to insult.

In all honesty, I never tried California pizza. Knowing just a little bit about Cali, especially the Berkeley-San Francisco area, is that they probably do everything they can to make it healthy and wholesome. I'm thinking whole-grained sourdough crust with sun-dried tomatoes, organically grown artichoke hearts and cheese from free range, happy, California cows.

Katie, please forgive me. I absolutely love California food! I'm just..."afraid"to try your pizza. Okay. It's a comfort food thing. You know. Those certain "homey" expectations. I am letting"healthy" fly out the window. I want cheese and grease.

Pictured above here is Wilkes-Barre, PA "Pizza Perfect" pizza. This is a Sicilian styled (thick crust) pizza. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (as in "The Office") is a very ethnic area.

You don't order a "pizza". You order a "cut" or "twelve".

My husband grew up here. In his neighborhood of Pittston, there were seven or eight Catholic Churches, each offering Mass in a different language. Two of these churches celebrated the Mass in Italian. Please also note that these wonderful Italian people were extremely competitive. Doug worked in a pizzeria and was not allowed to see the mixture of cheeses that were used. He was not privy to the ingredients of their secret crust.

I have always love the traditional round "Neopolitan" pizza with the thin crust. Until one day, my husband turned me on to Pizza Perfect. Sicilian is rectangular pizza on a thick crust, totally sinful, as they use lard in the crust. It is extremely and exquisitely crispy, a bit greasy yes, but absolutely orgasmic! The sauce is very light. We order ours with onion bits (very subtle) and whatever secret combination of cheese. We only get it now when we visit relatives. It is absolutely horrible for you - healthwise, but well worth the extra calories on occasion. There are other notable pizzerias in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area such as Old Forge Pizza, Sabatini's (Neopolitan style). Grotto was originated here. There are many others, far too numerous to mention. Locals pick their favorites and have been known to fight to the death if someone insults thier fave. So be very careful.

BTW Katie. We stopped for lunch in Livermore. We found there the best Greek restaurant ever!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lucho's Lament - Dive's 500 Word Challenge

"But with the passage of the years Lucho Abril Marroquin was to tell himself that of all the instructive experiences of that morning the most unforgettable had not been either the first or the second accident but what happened afterwards."

The fact that the second accident occurred at all was blamed entirely on him. Even though, he was too young to fully understand. What he did understand, however, was that Maria was gone.
Maria was beautiful. She had eyes that reminded Lucho of the moon at the very last crescent, moments before it disappeared. Her skin was smooth and as delicious as cocoa with cream.

Maria was the princess protected by Papa. She posessed Mamma’s fine aristocratic bones.
Lucho was ordinary at best. He was short, but of good working stock. Lucho looked like his father. He was an Inca without a doubt.

Maria was the model of her mother. She bore the blood of a Spanish queen. Lucho remembers when Papa took him into the city. The women looked different than the village women. Papa told him they were called “Blancos”. “Blancos” because they were white in comparison to the locals. Their skin was the color of cream. Their shoes clicked and made them appear taller. The Blanco women hired the Inca women to do their housework.

Lucho only remembers the day that Maria was taken from them. He was eleven years old and entrusted with her care. Papa gave him explicit instructions:
“You will take Maria into Lima. You will find Senora Martina’s salon. You will ask Senora to find a dress for Maria that will bring out her natural beauty.”

On the way out the door Lucho tripped, spraining his ankle.

Maria was about to turn fifteen. She was shy, quiet and hardly aware of this “natural beauty”. She was about to have her special birthday party. Papa was going to invite some dignitaries. He hoped that important men in town would notice Maria’s good breeding. He was not about to lose this opportunity.

Lucho had to escort Maria into the village. In the village they would catch the makeshift “bus” into Lima. This makeshift bus was an old Daihatsu pick-up truck, fashioned in the bed with Chevrolet bench seats . The operators collected two hundred pesos per rider. Not a bad wage for the village.

The village was an hour from Lima on a good day. The road to Lima was narrow, bumpy and vertical. On one side was the mountain, on the other was sheer cliff. You could not see to the bottom.

Lucho remembers the bouncing ride, the smell of passenger’s pigs . He felt sick.

Suddenly a child was crossing the road. The driver slammed on his brakes. The bus skidded and rolled over losing half of the passengers over the cliff.

Lucho tried to hold onto Maria.
He heard screams.

He felt a burning pain across his face. He woke up in the Hospital.

“You are dead to me”. Said his papa.

Disclaimer: I wasn't going to do this one. I just composed it this evening. I hate to refuse a challenge. I like to write for fun. Just as an exercise of the mind. I do not and will never profess to be a writer of any talent.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Conewago Creek Study with Palette Knife

I haven't posted a painting in a while. This is a small 12x12 square. Just thought I'd let you know that yes, I have been painting. I have been experimenting in the studio. I know. I'm not doing plein air. WTF. So I'm "cheating". Say what you will. I don't give a flying F. Painting is Painting. I am using my own damn photos but I am PAINTING. Besides, I find that painting outside in the mid to late summer around here is unbearable. It is too hot, humid and green. Everything is virtually the same shade of green. I will wait until early fall to attempt painting out of doors. Anyhoo. I am posting three views of the same painting. I was having some difficulty with the water - getting too pickly-tickly - not wanting to spoil the flatness of it and I says to myself WTF go crazy with a palette knife. Get thick and juicy and don't worry about details.

I had lots of fun and the reason I am posting three photos is because I do not have good editing software on my laptop. The editing software does not crop properly. It is not set up to crop "square formats." I have to go to work and use Photoshop to do that. So please excuse the weird little "edges". If you click on the images you should be able to see the juicy, thick paint.

I like the thick, shimmering quality of these paintings. You must know that I underpainted the canvas with a Golden Acrylic Vat Orange. I did not use a brush. I scratched through the paint to reveal the underpainting in the trees. I am working on a 20"x20" as well. I will post it soon. I appreciate your thoughts and comments.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Business at Bartleby's (Dive's Writing Challenge)

Then, suddenly, with great clarity and precision, he saw Bartleby's window and the blank brick wall before him."

“That’s our turf now! That territory has been claimed!”

He slipped out of the community clinic waiting room into the hallway, reaching urgently into his jeans pocket. He quickly grabbed his cellular and pushed #3 on the speed dial. He didn’t have to wait long.


”Yo, Ant, I need to see, immediately.”

“What’s goin on?”

“We in business, man. Can’t talk now... I’ll catch you later...probably in about 45.”


Anthony was a man of few words. Most people didn’t get him. But Aaron knew him better than anybody. They grew up together in this shithole of a neighborhood. He knew Ant was “gifted”. Just not in the academic sense.

As Aaron eased his way back into the waiting room, he checked the service monitor. Number “45” was being served. Momma was holding ticket #46 and giving him a major stink-eye.

“Where the hell did you get off to? You going all the time! You always so damn secretive. My number is almost up and you know I can’t run around looking for you in my condition.”

Aaron shrugged and looked at Momma without making eye contact. He couldn’t stand to look at her now. Ever since she got hooked up to that oxygen tank she needed Aaron for everything.

Momma’s appointment lasted all but 15 minutes. The doc looked at her, all the while shaking his head. He looked down his nose at Aaron.

“Emphysema is totally preventable. If your mother quit smoking twenty years ago, she wouldn’t be sick like this. You kids around here don’t seem to get that. Don’t they teach you anything in these public schools?”

Aaron just smiled and nodded his head. Momma might not look like much but she did a fine job teaching him manners. He tuned out Dr. Jones and his kind a long time ago. Besides he had other, more important things on his mind.

Back home Aaron was quick to get Momma inside. He started the pot and fetched her cup. She was breathing hard. He pulled out the Entenmann’s coffeecake and poured cold milk into the flowered, porcelain creamer. She seemed a little more comfortable sitting at her kitchen table.

“You be alright mom? I gotta run.”

“There you go again. Always running. If I didn’t know better I’d think you was dealing drugs.”

“I love you too, Momma.”

Aaron slinks out the back door. He has to hop two fences to get to Ant’s. Ant answers the door wearing an old white beater.

“You got the piece?”

“What piece you talking about man? I hope it’s not what I’m thinking.”

The Graffiti piece. Remember the mural you planned?

I spoke to Mr. Bartleby and he’s gonna let us paint it on his wall! He’s gonna pay us man!

“He’s gonna pay us?”

The boys ascend smiling into a simultaneous high-five.

“ YES! We ARE in business!”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Last Night in San Francisco

On our last night in San Francisco we stayed at the Le Meridian Hotel in the financial district. This was a beautiful hotel with an amazing view of the city. The famous pyramidal TransAmerica building is reflected in the building across from us. Each room had angled corner windows which allowed for a near panoramic view. These first two pictures were taken upon our arrival in the mid-afternoon. As outstanding as this hotel was, it was not as nice as our first two nights at the Omni. The Omni's view wasn't as nice, but the staff was incredible. The housekeeping staff left milk and cookies for the kids. The concierge, "Lex" got us VIP tickets to the King Tut exhibit. The door men greeted us enthusiastically and would not let us open a single door.

You can see the Bay Bridge from this window.

Our daughters were thrilled with the rooftop gardens. We don't see much of these in York County, PA. I tried to take some pictures at night but they didn't come out very well. I promise I will invest in a good camera!

I got up at dawn. I was quite excited to discover the Bay Bridge surrounded by a delightful pink bay! From this you can get some idea of the night view.

A little more pink bay.
We booked all of our San Francisco and Santa Cruz rooms through Priceline. Our bid was $100.00 (USD). These rooms would normally go for over $200.00. Our rooms were outstanding, clean and comfortable. I would highly recommend using Priceline. Please be aware, however, that they only guarantee one bed. If you are traveling with children or others that could be a problem. In our case, we asked the front desk for a room with two beds and the upgrade was made. No problem. We noticed that there were lots of empty rooms at the Le Meridian. Priceline is providing a service by filling up rooms that would otherwise go empty. In Santa Cruz, we bid on the Chaminade Resort and Spa for three nights. We got a two bed room for the first two nights. They did move us on the third night because it was Fourth of July weekend, a Friday, and they had a wedding booked.
No problem. We sent the girls to stay with my brother for the night and we had a room to ourselves!
BTW I could not wait to get a new post up here. The writing thing was fun but took me way out of my comfort zone. I promise to post paintings soon. I am working on two simultaneously. One is ready to photograph as a WIP. I just need to let it dry a bit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

dive's writing challenge

Okay, I'll try this. I'm always up for a challenge. Good old Dive challenged all of his readers to continue our own version of a story following his writing prompt. The writing prompt was the fifth sentence or something on page 56 of whatever book was closest to him at the time. The first paragraph is just that. The rest is mine. I cannot explain where I came up with this, but here goes:

"And again next day a thinly populated sky, losing its blue to the heat, would melt overhead, and Lo would clamour for a drink, and her cheeks would hollow vigorously over the straw, and the car inside would be a furnace when we got in again, and the road shimmered ahead, with a remote car changing its shape mirage-like in the surface glare, and seeming to hang for a moment, old-fashionedly square and high, in the hot haze."

These August days could wear on even the best of us. Whoever they were? We certainly were not dealt that hand in life. After the mine closed it was like starting all over again. As old Harv used to say, “You has to go where the work is”.

“Leroy, how much further is it to Cleve-LAND? My back is hurtin an I’m damn thirsty. “
It was hot. It was damned hot. Up in the mountains you could feel the air move. In these flatlands nothing moved. I haven’t seen a human or an animal for I don’t know how long. I shade my eyes and look hard, trying to find a service station, an oasis in this strange land of brown and yellow nothingness. Hell, I’d settle to find a patch of green shade where we could pee and stretch our legs. No mountain streams around these parts.

It occurs to me that I might never go home.

No matter how hot it got, Pine Tar Cove always cooled at night. The mine was cool as well. We started early in the morning before the sun got too hot. We was down in the depths during the worst of it. Once you took the trolley into the mine you lost your sense of time. It was black. The smell was of recently struck matches and wet moss. I could hear a constant trickle of water, but that helped cool me. I liked the sounds, the smells, the constants. It was familiar and comfortable somehow. I did my job. I never complained. People need coal for heat. I was providing a service AND I was damn good at it. I could do this for the rest of my life.

Until June 11th that was.

Shaft #27 collapsed. Two men died. Peter Harrell and Marley Scott. Both of them were fathers. They left behind widows with small children.

Shortly after, some official- lookin people with plastic badges came in and said the mine was in “violation”. Some violation of working conditions. These people screwed up their faces andlooked at us like we were shit. Who the fuck were they to judge us? They bein in some suits and shit, doesn’t make them any better.

Leroy, I need a drink!”
Lo is eight months pregnant with our first child. I have to find a stop.

I keep looking for a familiar sign. After about thirty miles of tedious earth tones, I see a green dinosaur. A Sinclair station. I slow the old Impala and guide her into the pumping area.
A young pockmarked man makes his way to the car.. He has greasy black hair and seems to think he ’s all that. Even I, an unemployed coal-miner from Tennessee thinks he is an ugly man. He props his arm on the roof of the car to see us better. He looks at us sideways and says. “Where you folks headed?”
“Cleveland” I say.
“I hear they got jobs up there.”
“Yeah, the Ford Plant in Elyria, just outside of Cleveland is looking for assembly line workers.”
“I hear Ford’s a great company if you can get in. You got people up there? It helps if you know someone. Is your woman okay? She doesn’t look well.”
I turn and look at Lo. She looks pale. She hasn’t been complaining too much but then again I’ve been lost in my thoughts. I turn and realize she’s hurtin.
“Lo, you okay?”
“I’ve got some cramps. I think the baby is comin…”
Shit. I have no experience in this.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Escape to Alcatraz

What would a trip to San Francisco be without a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. We are on our way to Alcatraz Island. There is the famous bridge shrouded by the even more famous San Francisco fog. On this date, we were fortunate that the fog rolled in "after" our return from the island.

Daughter A checking out a cell on Broadway. The inmates named the cell blocks. The audio tour was fantastic. I highly recommend this tour. Al Capone was housed here as well as other infamous criminals.

The grounds are quite beautiful. Community groups keep up the gardens on the island.

My teenage daughters, posing with me for a "touristy" picture before we boarded the ferry. Can you tell my youngest (the redhead) does not particularly enjoy being photographed? Alcatraz Island is behind us. The boat trip is only about 10 minutes each way.

This is a fire department boat we passed on the way out to the island.

Here is a photo of the less than famous Bay bridge. It is still a beautiful bridge. You can see the lower part of the city as viewed from Alcatraz.

A better view of the city from the Island. From here you can appreciate the hills. Fortunately, the National Park Service has protected this island from Developers. High rise condominiums would spoil the mystique of the place.

Part of Alcatraz has been designated as a bird refuge. We found a bunch of baby seagulls. These babies were absolutely adorable. (check out the little spotted fellow) Seagulls get a bad rap. I think calling them winged rats is a little harsh.

There were many other birds nesting and/or roosting on the island. We found a large flock of Snowy Egrets. My daughter would like to use this for one of her paintings. Come to think of it, I might also. Daughter A deserves all the credit for the photography. I think she has the potential to be a wildlife photographer! She prefers computer animation, however.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed your little preview of Alcatraz Island. These photos did not upload in the order I wanted them to so they are a little discombobulated. (Is that really a word? The spellchecker didn't seem to notice.) I am going to try to relax for the next month. Summer vacation is almost over.