Friday, December 31, 2010

Good Riddance 2010

I am just writing to bid good riddance to the year 2010.

I'm gazing back. The visuals that come to mind are pre-college arguments with financial aid offices. Hours upon hours looking at numbers only to get a letter stating that something is amiss with our payment schedule. I keep finding legal pads with my numbers.
I hate numbers.

I am not a left brain person. Numbers scare me. And yes, most of the errors were my fault.

Next visual...Stinkbugs. The damned things ruined my fall plein air painting.

I'd set up my easel, find something to paint, get everything prepared and then I was accosted by these nasty bugs. They would fly their shield shaped body armour into me. The damned things are still around. They swarmed the house in October and made their way into every little crack and crevice. The emerge when you least expect them.

I have a stink bug death chamber now. A cottage cheese container filled with vinegar and detergent. Every time I find one of the buggers I deposit it into the death vat. I love to watch them die!

Death. My husband's best friend succumbed to leukemia in October at the young age of 51. One of my students also died of leukemia at the age of 15. Both were diagnosed about a year before their deaths.

World news. Haiti's earthquake and cholera epidemic. I spent three months there in my youth. I was an idealistic young person. That country was terribly poor then. I cannot fathom what they are enduring now.

The Gulf Oil Disaster.

Politics. Fucking tea party. Stupid American people who are targeted by these groups. Why are there so many "stoopid" people here?

I'm having issues with my artistic mojo. I'm working things out, but overall 2010 has been a year of struggle.

Blog traffic is down. Probably my fault to some extent. I've not contributed much.

Blah is a good way to describe 2010. Haha. Back in 1982 when I lived in Haiti, the local people called us white people "Blahs". It was creole for white. It seems oddly appropriate for 2010!

May 2011 be a better year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Trojan Wedding Shower Commercial - Triphoria Gift - Hair Blown Back

I was gathered with my husband and daughters on Christmas day. We were celebrating Christmas in our pajamas, watching the original Star Wars trilogy on the Sci Fi Channel. Can you imagine? This was the first commercial to play! On the Sci Fi Channel!

I have never seen anything so ridiculous. I can imagine a Saturday Night Live skit. I don't know what to say! I could not post this yesterday.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Soupies and Chickies Cafe!

Just for fun, please click on the title of this post and check out the link for my daughter's new favorite restaurant in Philly!

She describes it as a little place run by adorable hyper Asians. She told me that the names of the menu items are all cutesy. I had to check this out!

My favorite name is Yo Tony! If you haven't guessed, this is an Italian inspired dish with fresh mozzarella.

Oh, and I love the way they spell omelet.

I must brag that my daughter is adjusting well to the college/city lifestyle. She prefers Jean's because of their extremely low prices. Although she fell in love with Govinda's, a vegetarian restaurant that specializes in soy cheesesteaks, she chooses to spend most of her going out time at Jean's. She buys her clothes and supplies at i. Goldberg, which used to be our favorite military surplus store. Our frugality is rubbing off!

She will be coming home for the Christmas break on Thursday! I cannot wait. I miss her! I miss hearing about Maru's latest post. Oh Mom, did you check Cake Wrecks today? Did you hear what the nostalgia critic said about _________? I miss the constant, "Mom, you've gotta see this!" To which I respond..."okay, I'll be there in a minute." I miss hearing my two daughters giggling together in the computer room.

But I also hope that she will be anxious to return to school. This child is blossoming in her new environment. She told me she will probably be named vice-captain of the fencing club in the spring. She is growing!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gangsta Skunks

One of the hazards of living in the boondocks is the threat of attacks by angry woodland gangsters. They prey upon their naiive domesticated mammalian relatives who have not been educated to the signs of gang symbolism.

Those of us who are worldly know the signs. The colors: white on black with the stripes starting at the head and ending at the tail. The stripes can vary from single to double to the triple threat. We see the stripes, we turn and walk away. We know that if we leave them alone they will probably leave us alone.

Unfortunately, the naive golden retriever has been sheltered from these thicket thugs. She does not recognize the colors, she perceives a lifted tail as an invitation. She sniffs. It sprays. She is hit point blank in the face. The older, wiser, half-border collie Fiona is grazed but escapes the major assault.

I have been informed of the attack by my husband. The victims were sentenced to the garage for the day. I must deal with them at day end.

My vet recommended Nature's Miracle is all but empty. I consult the internets.

The first thing I find is DO NOT USE TOMATO JUICE! Please tell me where that tradition/urban mythology/old wives wisdom/rumor came from? I used tomato juice once, decades ago. It did not work AT ALL. The result was a dog matted with sticky red goo and a lingering skunk aroma.

On the internets I found the best remedy ever! 2 quarts of hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup of baking soda, 2 tsp. dish detergent. This neutralized the odor almost immediately! There is a faint skunky smell, but the dogs are tolerable. The most tolerable they have been under such an attack.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Art School Fencing!

My daughter is a fencing fool! She joined the fencing club at the University of the Arts and is absolutely hooked. Be it known that this is her first fencing experience and she is the beast!
She is the petite 5'2" freshman facing the much larger male opponent. My fearless freshman lost this match by one point, 4-3. She went on to win two other "bouts" against much larger males! Way to go Annelise. Behind her is her good friend and fellow animation major, Giselle. Most of the fencing club is made up of animation majors. In fact, the coach is her animation professor!
She is having an absolutely amazing time and cannot wait for fencing every Monday and Thursday night! What a way for a tiny teen to feel empowered!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pumpkin Rolls for Dessert

Today I attempted to make pumpkin rolls. Pumpkin rolls instead of pumpkin pie. I have purchased a pumpkin roll every year from someone.
This is the first year I have not been offered one.
I expected one.
I turned my New Jersey family on to these delectable desserts one year ago.
They do not make these in New Jersey.
I think it is a Pennsylvania Dutch thing.
My newly formed chapter of the National Art Honor Society was going to have a pumpkin roll baking party. We were going to sell them at football games.
I thought I would get my pumpkin roll from them.
The plans fell through.
No pumpkin rolls.
A lot of church ladies make these. Last year I bought two from a student whose church ladies made them.
What happened to the church ladies?
What happened to the students who always ask me to buy them?

I decided to try to make them myself.

The recipe is, after all on the flip side of the Libby's pumpkin label. Most people make the pumpkin pie.

How hard could it be?

The first thing I needed to do was find a jelly roll pan. Hmmm. What is a jelly roll pan? I found a cookie sheet with sides and a pizza baking stone with sides.

I mixed all the cake ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, ginger, ground cloves and allspice.
I greased the pan, laid waxed paper down, greased the waxed paper and floured it. I spread my cake mix over the waxed paper and baked for 15 minutes.

I then had to flip the cake out of the pan onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectionary sugar.
I rolled the cake and towel and let them cool for an hour.

I made the cream cheese filling. I had to unroll the cake, spread the filling and re-roll.
One roll ripped a little (okay a lot). The other looks rather nice.

We will have to sacrifice the ripped one to the tasting gods. The tasting gods live in my house. The prettier one will be taken to New Jersey for our Thanksgiving dessert.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wear Loud Shirts and Eat Dessert

This is a postscript to my Cancer Sucks post of November 2009.

Michael Canty passed on at the age of 51. He was diagnosed with acute lymphotic leukemia approximately one year ago.

The leukemia was bullied into remission through aggressive chemotherapy. Unfortunately the thing that was supposed to cure him put his body into near total organ failure. Two organs that did not fail were Michael's brain and skin.

We visited him in the hospital ICU just after Christmas. The nurse took out his tracheotomy tube so that he could converse with us. This caused such severe respiratory distress that it had to be immediately replaced.

For almost one year, Michael refused to die. He fought incredible odds. He regained some functions such as the ability to eat and the ability to walk a few steps. He took a shower. He went home to Hampton, Virginia where he used to be a high school principal and city manager. He kept a blog, sometimes writing though his wife, Annie, sometimes writing with his son, Liam. He managed to post himself after regaining the use of his hands.

My husband met Michael at Boston College when they were graduate students. In 1983, Michael, Doug, and friends Mary and Jeanne rented a Dodge Reliant K Station wagon. They took a month to drive across the U.S. Most of the time they took shifts driving. Occasionally they stopped to camp. I met Doug just after his return East.

Doug and Mike vowed to make this trip again before they died. They envisioned two old geezers speeding through the desert in a Porsche convertible.

It seems that Michael's respiratory system did not want to cooperate. Mike would take a step forward, walk, write, laugh, and then the lungs would fill up with fluid again. Michael had to go back to intensive care.

Michael did not want to live forever on a ventilator and asked his family and doctors to disconnect him. He was surrounded by family and friends. He was at peace. He said that he was able to reconnect with everyone that he wanted to in the last year of his life. He left us last week to pursue his final journey into the unknown. We will be attending a celebration of his life on Friday. He has requested that we do two things in his memory:

1. Wear Loud Shirts
2. Always Eat Dessert (Life is to short to deprive yourself)

We love you Michael. We hope your chariot was a Porsche! I'll have some of that cheesecake now.

My dear mother's birthday would have been Wednesday. Cancer and chemo took her in 2006.
I wanted to post some pictures. Perhaps I will at some point , but not today.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Testing 1..2..3 What do you think of Jeff Koons?

Jeff Koon's Bunny Sculpture. Okay, the picture looks like WTF? Who would sculpt a bunny balloon? I did see this sculpture in person and it is amazing. It is constructed of polished steel and you can see your reflection distorted in astonishing angles. I took a group of high school students to the Baltimore Museum of Art when it was exhibited there. They were absolutely captivated!

Imagine their astonishment when I told them that Jeff was born in York County. In fact, Jeff was born and raised in my current home town of Dover, Pa and has become the highest paid and most well known sculptor in the U.S. Many people think his work is kitschy. Okay, the subject matter is kitschy, but the interpretation, in my opinion, is brilliant.

I'm just testing to see if the blog works anymore.

I've tried posting a few times and I've gotten all sorts of error messages.

I have a lot to write about but I want to make sure blogger is still working before I pour my heart and soul into this.

If you are still around, say hello. If you don't visit blogs anymore, let me know.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brown Marmorated Stinkbug Plague!

I tried to paint today but I was assaulted by swarms of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs. These horrible creatures are nasty. They sound like a wasp when they buzz you! Their armour-like exterior actually hurts on impact. They fly into your body, fly into your hair, fly into your home. If you kill them they emit a foul odor.

These ugly fuckers came from Asia. They've attacked our tomatoes. They are attacking our sunflowers. They have swarmed our siding and are looking for cracks to invade our home. The weather outside is perfect and I have to turn on the air conditioning.

These foul creatures have ruined my favorite time of year and I am not happy.

Finally, the humidity is gone. The trees are showing some color other than green. It is my time to paint plein air.

I painted for about an hour. I could have cried. I almost killed a beautiful butterfly that landed on my knee. I thought it was a stinkbug.

These fuckers have no know natural predators. Birds do not eat them because they smell and leave a foul taste. They are pesticide resistant. Help me.

Here is some biological information brought to you by the University of Maryland.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) is a new pest in North America. Adult bugs are 14-17 mm and dark mottled brown. The last 2 antennal segments have alternating light and dark bands. The exposed edges of the abdomen also have light and dark banding. Eggs are light green, barrel-shaped, and laid from June to August. The young bugs (nymphs) are yellowish and mottled with black and red. Older nymphs more closely resemble the adults. The host list is long and includes many shade trees and woody ornamentals such as Paulownia tomentosa (empress tree), Buddleia spp.(butterfly bush), Catalpa spp., Rosa rugosa, Lonicera spp. (honeysuckle), and Acer platanoides (Norway maple). Feeding damage appears as small necrotic spots on leaves and fruit. These stink bugs can also be a nuisance in homes and buildings as they seek shelter in the fall much like Asian lady bird beetles and boxelder bugs.

Management: Prevent them from coming in the home by sealing up cracks with caulk, use weather stripping around doors and windows, remove window air conditioners, close all possible entry points. Inside shop- vacuum up the bugs and place in an outdoor trash receptacle. It should be noted that if many of them are squashed or pulled into a vacuum cleaner, their odor can be quite strong.

There are no chemical recommendations currently available for home use. For heavy infestations outdoors, contact a pest control professional.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Baltimore's Harbor View

Baltimore Harbor from the Marriott Harbor View. Our Priceline bargain during Otakon.

I was going to write about the Racist Tea Party, but I became angry. I felt my blood pressure rise. I viewed photos of Christine O'Donnell who magically transformed herself to become a twin of Sarah Palenut. Funny, I watched my sister-in-law start the transformation about two years ago. It started with the glasses. Opticians now carry more Palinesque glasses than you can imagine!

I started fuming about the stupid tea-baggers. Glenn Beck holding his rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech. My blood began to boil as students had their parents call in to prohibit them from listening to Obama's address to school children.

What happened to common respect? What happened to listening to the president's address just to hear what he had to say? After the address you can bash the hell out of it. You can disagree, find fault, make fun, throw darts, etc. We did this with the Bushes. We did this with Reagan. We even did it with Clinton. They are politicians for god's sake. They deserve to be questioned.
We've always made fun of politicians. That is expected.

But disallowing children to listen? Why? Because he might convert them to socialism? He might be a Muslim? He only wanted to encourage them to do their best in school.

No. I believe it is because he is black. I have never witnessed such sheer disrespect toward any American president. You can disagree with him. Just listen first.
Enjoy the photos while you ponder my rant. These were taken from an I-phone.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One Flew Out of the Blackberry Bramble

My oldest child has gone off to school.

All of a sudden nothing else matters. I cannot paint. I cannot blog.
It is a life-changing experience for both of us. It is beyond my writing capacity.

My daughter is living in Center City Philadelphia attending the University of the Arts. She is living her dream.

She is living in a studio apartment with twelve foot ceilings and huge windows overlooking the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I used to live two blocks away.

She is afraid to use the electric stove. (It smells funny)
She has a neurotic roommate. There are laundry facilities on every floor (but hers).

She discovered street vendors for breakfast and lunch. They see her coming and begin to prepare her lunch - egg, cheese and lettuce on a hoagie roll - $2.00.
(I told her that would happen). Marty used to have my poppy seed bagel with butter waiting for me every morning at precisely 7:45.

We gave Annelise a quick walking tour of her neighborhood. She is only about six blocks from the Italian Market. The street vendors are still there although most of them are Asian. There are still some institutions like DiBruno Brothers Cheese.

Twenty six years ago the old DiBruno brothers used to greet us and tempt us to taste all sorts of wonderful Italian cheese. When we stopped in with my daughter, the old guys were gone and replaced by mustachioed twenty-somethings. They could have been thirty-somethings. They are muscular and tattooed, wearing wife-beaters as a fashion statement. They look like babies to me. They were still friendly and helpful, but the old Italian accents are long gone and replaced by the Philly "Yo. (Adrienne)"

There is now a mural honoring the DiBruno family about one block north of the store. Okay, the old Italian guys are history now?

Okay. I'm in a funny place right now. A major transition with my daughter, an opportunity to reminisce about my twenties, the beginning of a new school year. I'm also in a funny place when it comes to painting. I'm not sure where I want to go.

I'm wondering if anyone is blogging anymore as I do not get many comments. Perhaps my posts are too boring. My paintings have sucked. Some bloggers have so many blogs within blogs that I gave up trying to keep up.

I miss the regular blogging circuit.

Perhaps Facebook has destroyed blogging.

Sometimes the Blogger site is glitchy. It doesn't let me comment or post.

Sometimes I just get too busy with my own life. I either do not have the time or the energy or the organizational skills to find photos for meaningful posts. It is entirely my own fault. I'm sorry.

Hey. I miss you bloggers. Drop me a comment. Suggest a painting. Tell me a funny story. Let's keep the blogs alive.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cape Cod Mini-Vacation

I thought I'd post a few photos from our mini-vacation up to visit friends at the Cape! Our good friends, Mary and Ted invited us to spend a few days at Cazzy's Cape House! While I do have a picture of the house. Here are a few pictures we snapped on our trip. Doesn't this lighthouse look like an Edward Hopper painting? I looked up Edward Hopper's lighthouses and this is not the one he painted. Perhaps I'll give it a go. This lighthouse was located on a strip of land that is only accessible by boat or certain off-road vehicles. We passed it on our whale watch cruise from Barnstable Harbor.

The Whale Watch was fantastic. We witnessed at least ten individual humpbacks frolicking around the Stellwagen Bank (I'm not sure about the spelling here). I do believe this individual is Salt, the most famous humpback of the area. The Marine Mammal Conservancy has been tracking her since the 1970s. In the foreground is her newest calf. I have a lot more whale tail pictures! I'll probably crop some of them when I get around to playing on the desktop.
We stayed in the quaint village of Harwich Port. The Harwich Port Harbor looked golden as we passed it just before sunset. I decided to walk back with my camera to snap a few more pictures! Maybe a painting or two will come out of these photos. It is always fun to revisit places through painting them. I have more pics, but blogger seems to be "limiting" me. We visited two other friends on the way up to the Cape. My good friend Stefanie in West Milford, New Jersey and our good friend and former boss, Linda in Milford, Connecticut. This was a driving trip to visit old friends that we haven't seen in 15-25 years, but still love. It was nice to also catch a few sights along the way.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Orenda, New Painting

Well, it looks like the computer gods are cooperating today, at least as far as uploading goes. Perhaps I tried to load too many at a time? Perhaps it is the particular computer. I am using the desktop now because I cannot crop with my laptop.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to get some feedback. As many of you know, I've been in an animal mode lately. This is a painting of my sister in law's beautiful Birman cat, Orenda. Orenda recently passed on to the great sunlit cushion in the sky. She lived to the ripe age of 21.

My daughter snapped this photo a couple of years ago. I found her picture and thought I'd try painting her.

Well, this proved to be quite difficult and I am not quite "finished". First of all, I had to tackle the lush interior of my sister-in-law's house. Gail's house is quite beautiful and she has impeccable taste when it comes to furnishings, pillows, color and decorating etc.

Second of all, Orenda is a fluffy, mostly white, long-haired cat. How do I capture the fur without fussing too much?

Third of all, Orenda is backlit. While this made for a beautiful photo, I found it quite challenging to capture her delicate face when I could not see it very well. I did not have another photo. I wanted to capture that wonderful back-lighting through her fur! Anyway I've been going back to this painting for several weeks and while I know I have to make a few adjustments, I thought I would ask my wonderful blogging friends for your advice. There are spots where I keep fussing (like the color of the shadow behind the red cushion on the chair). Also the pillow has a cushion sewn on top if it. It looks like a second pillow, but it is not. The patterns change. I usually avoid a lot of patterns as I don't like to get into that "tickling" mode. Sometimes I need to stop and critique. Your thoughts please?

Friday, August 6, 2010

What is with *#*#*!!! Blogger?

I am ranting because I cannot seem to post photos anymore.

I know I've been lax in my blogging as of late but this morning I came to the compy with good intentions. It is family reunion time and I have a contribution to Sepia Saturday.

The site seems to have become very glitchy. Photos have been selected, but they fail to upload. Has something changed? Am I limited to one photo per post? I tried the new posting option but didn't like it. Am I just becoming a grumpy old woman who hates change? This is about the third time I've had this problem.

There are paintings to post, vacation photos and all sorts of goodies, but I cannot seem to do it. Arrgh!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Otakon Fun - Annual Post

Otakon 2010, Baltimore, Maryland. This was the end of our vacation and the highlight for the kids! We booked rooms through Priceline and were pleasantly surprised by Waterfront views! Here Caitlyn is being eaten by Neuro! Don't ask!
Annelise, transformed into a blonde bombshell with burns for Baccano!
Oh the fun of Otakon! A little sidestep into a David Bowie tribute!
The Baccano crowd posing. The photo ops are incredible.
Jazz Hands! Baccano takes place during the depression! We have Jazz. We have the great depression! Speakeasies and demonic immortal children! Life is good! There was an evacuation at the convention center due to some eejit pulling the fire alarm. Imagine all these costumed individuals running out and screaming! I'll post more vacations photos later!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Vacation Time

Hey all.  I'm on vacation this week.  We've had to downsize our vacation due to our new financial responsibility of tuition payments!  Yay!  No West Coast or Europe this year.

We are making our way up the east coast to see old friends.  First stop is East Milford, NJ.   My good friend lives on the New Jersey /New York border, north of the city, near the Tappan-Zee bridge, the widest part of the Hudson River. 

Next we are visiting our friend Linda in Milford, CT.  She was my "boss" in Philadelphia at the Blindness agency where I met my husband.  I have not seen Linda in over twenty years.

Finally we will spend a few days and nights in beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  We will visit wonderful old friends. 

 I have a cat painting I will probably post as well as photos of our trip when I get back.  Otherwise you probably will not hear from me for about a week. 


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blackberry Road

Some of you know that I live in the middle of nowhere, U.S.A. which is smaller than Dive's Smallville.

We live on a three acre lot with agricultural/conservation zoning which was sold to us by our neighbor.

We decided to reforest about an acre. Unfortunately the Electric Co-0ps power lines cut through a bit of the reforested area. Last year they told us they had to cut a path through it. These were tree guys and we told them we wanted to preserve as much of the trees as possible. They were very considerate. We had other people who wanted to spray and kill everything. We would not allow this. Our neighbors allowed them to spray an area and they destroyed an entire patch of black raspberries.

Happily, last year's cut resulted in a flowering daisy meadow!

One of my little summer guilty pleasures is to take the dogs out in the morning for a bit of exercise.

I must confess that while the family thinks I'm exercising, I am actually foraging for berries.

In my little wooded corner of nowhere, I have thickets of black raspberry in June, and several varieties of blackberries in July.

These delectable treats while abundant will never be made into jam or a pie. I've been there, done that.

Not as long as they are part of my morning walk.

When they are fresh, they are healthy, full of fiber and not coated with sugar. I can gobble them up without much guilt.

A pie would transform these into a sinful indulgence. So I will enjoy these in July, fresh and sweet. Sugar is not necessary. I may not burn as many calories from walking fast, but I think of all the calories I've saved from not making them into pie.

More importantly, there is something about berry picking that transforms me into a kid again. I love the hunting, I love the gathering. I just don't like to share the harvest. And by the way, I do live on Blackberry Road.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chiminea Cat Painting by Anita Williams

I've been into an animal kick lately. I am enjoying the responses I've gotten from the cows and the seals. I just believe that people are drawn to faces. So for those of you who like faces, I hope you enjoy Eddie in the Chiminea. Eddie is smart enough to realize that he does not like to be wet. During one of our winter snowstorms, he discovered a nice little "shelter" inside the chiminea. Unfortunately, the chimney enabled him to sneak out the top to grab the occasional unsuspecting songbird. My daughter eventually solved that problem, by placing a soccer ball on top of the opening. Eddie hasn't quite figured out why it is so dark inside.

Eddie presented a particular challenge in that he is a striped, brown tabby. Partially due to his impeccable breeding. Eddie was born to a feral father and a trailer park mother. One of my students begged me to give him a "good home". I have read that the brown tabby is very close to natural wild cat coloring. Eddie likes to accompany us on our walks through the woods where he is almost completely invisible. His coloring blends in perfectly.

Anyway, while painting, the challenge was to try to capture this beautiful coloring, and show some texture while not losing the "form" of the animal. Another challenge was capturing the snow. I blended some pthalo blue with titanium white and applied it with a wide trowel.

The surface of the chiminea was completed with a palette knife. The kitty was painted using a combination of brushes, knives, sticks and scumbling.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Refresh Button

Ah...summertime. The heat, the humidity. The sweat, the stink, the bugs, the poison ivy. The black raspberries, the blackberries, the wineberries. Homegrown tomatoes, snap peas, the barbeque. So much to hate. So much to love.

This is the first summer in a while that I do not have to take graduate classes. I have no major vacation planned. I have no pending solo show or gallery contract. My adult painting class was canceled. My oldest daughter graduated. I finished all of her college paperwork (I think).

I can finally relax.

I didn't rush to my painting shed because I didn't have to.
When I did get in there I decided to clean it. Ancient, tubes of half-empty paint which long ago lost their caps were tossed. An old sketchbook was opened and I drew with a pencil. Long forgotten reference photos were rediscovered.

I found a coupon. Fifty percent off of anything at Michael's. Thought I would get myself some brush cleaner. When I got there I found stretched canvasses on sale. I bought nine. Started painting again this week.

People are always complaining about teachers. We have it so easy being off for the summer and all. I know. We make too much money yada yada yada.

Just so you know, I am finally feeling relaxed. I'm almost caught up on my laundry and I've been sleeping until 8:00, sometimes 9:00 as opposed to 5:00 a.m. during the school year. I don't feel guilty.

Don't get me wrong. I love teaching. I love 95% of my students. Sometimes that other five percent suck the enthusiasm right out of me. Teenagers can be amazing, ambitious and fun or they can be total and complete idiots. Most of them are old enough to choose. Worse than the teenagers, however are the administrators. Our school is currently run by a team of nincompoops.

At any rate, I have a clean painting shed, nine blank canvasses, a little less stress, and a rested body.

I may finish some paintings.

Or maybe not.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer Parade

We're back to the sixties again on Chanese Lane, in beautiful Oceanville, New Jersey. I remember organizing this little Fourth of July Parade. I am the one with the army hat, braids and looking ridiculously patriotic in my red, white and blue. I am also one of the few that is not barefoot. My sister Sharon (Shazza) is the adorable blonde to the right of me with the "cymbals" and yellow shirt. My best friend, Maria is behind me carrying the big flag. I remember the boy on the bike as the obnoxious kid across the street. Maria's sister Mandy is to the far left.

Chanese Lane was a wonderful little neighborhood. It was a half mile cul-de-sac developed with little one-story and split level houses situated on the edge of the pine barrens. Behind us you can see where the lane dead-ended into the salt marsh. My parents bought their little split level for around $10,000.

The neighborhood was inhabited by young families. The parents were friendly. We kids were outside all the time. We had miles of pine forest to explore. The woods on the north side of the lane extended to the Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge. The woods to the south backed up to the Seaview Country Club. There was very little traffic and the lane belonged to us. I remember Mom sending us out in the morning. I'd go to Maria and Mandy's house and we would get her dogs and set off on an expedition of sorts.

Summers were spent exploring the woods. We found the tombstone of the Jersey Devil's relatives (Sarah and Obadiah Leeds). We collected the creatures and flowers and fruits that we found. This was not the New Jersey that people typically think about. There were no Sopranos and we did live on the Jersey Shore.

The parade was a silly idea at the time when we had time for silly ideas. Our imaginations fueled our play. There was no political agenda. It was a holiday and a time to celebrate. My parents moved us to a new home in a new town the following year. Our family was growing and they wanted us to go to better schools. Chanese Lane changed over time. I will always remember it as the setting for an incredible childhood.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Painting - California Bathing Beauties

Here is a painting of a few of the sunbathers we found on the Monterey Peninsula in California last summer. These harbor seals were so relaxed and obviously comfortable with their torpedo shaped bodies.

This past winter's weather with multiple blizzards found me digging through photo albums for painting ideas. I found these "gals" to be cooperative models. (I am assuming they are gals).

I started this painting with a monochromatic value study of the rock formation. I wanted to capture the texture of the rocks and also the solidity of them. I built up several layers of paint using a palette knife, adding color and texture. I worked on the rocks exclusively for a number of sessions leaving the seals sketched in. When I finally got around to the seals, I switched to a paintbrush. Unfortunately, I think they look a little "thin" in comparison to the rocks. I wish I could have continued to build upon them, but had to let them dry off for my March show. I did post the actual photo upon my return from California last summer. You might find it if you dig around through my labels. I wasn't going for exactitude. I never do when I paint. So don't judge me! I believe the colors on the rocks are largely invented to separate the seal gray from the rock gray!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Big Eighties Hair

Thanks to Poetikat, today is I love the eighties day. The eighties was basically the decade of my twenties. I decided to stay with the hair theme as the eighties were notorious for big, poofy hairstyles. This was a trend I resisted (at first). The first photo of me was taken in 1984. Doug and I had just moved into our first apartment. As you can see, I still had the arse length hair and the big glasses. These were my toned down rimless frames!
We got married in 1985 and I was working in the insurance industry at time. I wanted to modernize my look a bit so I added some "poofy" layered bangs.
As you see, these bangs got poofier and poofier (thanks to hair "products") I was an aerobic dance fanatic at the time. Aerobics was so much more fun when we danced to good music. The techno stuff just isn't the same. Unfortunately I don't have photos of me in the spandex dance outfits, complete with leg warmers and Reeboks. I had a much better body in the eighties!

Finally, Doug and I are hamming it up for you just above the Golden Gate Bridge on the Fourth of July, 1987. We bought these $5.00 Corona sweatshirts from a street vendor. We didn't realize how chilly it could get in San Fran in July! I hope you like our shorty shorts!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

History Through Hairstyles

For today's Sepia Saturday submission I am sharing some of my childhood looks. It is amazing what a hairstyle says about the time period.

The first photo of me was dated, Christmas, 1963. I was four years old at the time. I remember mom sending me to bed with curlers in my hair. The result was a neat, controlled coif.

This photo was taken about three years later. There was no date, but mom wanted me to be stylish with this little pixie cut for my uncle's wedding. I'm guessing the year was 1966. (It is an actual sepia photo).

When I finally had a little "say" in the matter, I wanted to grow my hair long with the part in the middle. I stayed with this look for most of my teenage years. This was my school picture around 1971. I remember the outfit. It was a vest with long double fringes.
I did get a "shag" type haircut in around 1976. I didn't like it very much. I quickly went back to the long, straight, parted in the middle look. When I first met my husband in 1983, my hair was "arse" length. I kept it long and straight until around the age of 30 when I wanted to look respectable. Hubby wants me to go back to "arse" length. I'm not sure how it would look with my fifty year old bod.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Congratulations Class of 2010!

Congrats to the graduating class of 2010! Jake wants to tell you that you are awesome!

Jake is the palest member of the Williams family. His job was to greet the visitors who came to celebrate my daughter's accomplishment. (We told him he could work on his tan.)

Jake is a very diligent worker. He endured the heat, the humidity, thunder, lightning and torrential rain. He was undaunted. His mortarboard is now a little warped. Still he remains intact, despite his ill-fitting arms.

I took off the mortarboard to reveal his amazing sculpted hair. Watch out Max Headroom!

The incredible Tres Leches cake was made for my husband's Mexican student. We attended her graduation party and ate the best homemade Mexican food ever. The cake is soaked in three different "milks", hence the name. The cake was served after an incredible meal, fruit with three chili sauces and homemade flan.

Last, but certainly not least, is my incredible daughter after graduation. (I am standing behind her). She did it! I am incredibly proud of her. She is now ready to pursue her animation dreams at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Kids, you rock.

Oh, and by the way. "My" school year is over. The college application process, scholarship process is over. I have free time again. Hoo-hoo! I might have time to blog more regularly!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Philadelphia You!

Okay. I promise I won't write too much. This is an aerial view of Philadelphia taken from above the waterworks, behind the art museum. Yeah, those steps that Rocky climbed.

What do you see in this picture?

Go Flyers!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Uncle Hugh

Lassie was not my favorite show back in the day.

I did watch the show when I was a youngster and I thought Lassie was an amazing dog.

What I did not know until years later was that the gentleman in that photo was my great uncle.

He was my grandmother's brother. Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1915, he pursued acting after serving in the army and landed a few roles on Broadway. He moved to the West Coast to pursue a role in film.

Hugh Reilly was not a well known actor. He was known as Timmy's father, June Lockhart's husband, the other guy.

He acted on Broadway, off Broadway, a few well known soap operas such as the Edge of Night and Dark Shadows.

A Google search revealed a Wikipedia entry. Turns out he turned down the role of the Professor in Gilligan's Island to spend more time with his family!

I remember him as a great, warmhearted, down-to-earth gentleman. I watched him perform at the South Jersey Regional Theatre in Somers Point, New Jersey.

The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Early years and career

Born October 30, 1915 at Newark, New Jersey, Reilly saw service in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II and pursued a theater career following the war. He made several Broadway appearances (including one with Tallulah Bankhead in Dear Charles) before heading to Hollywood for a film career in the late forties. HIs film appearances include Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949), and Bright Victory (1951). Reilly also worked many early television shows such as Kraft Television Theatre (1949), The Ford Theatre Hour (1951), and Broadway Television Theatre (1953).


In 1957, Reilly guest starred as George Cameron in the episode "Dangerous Channel" of Barry Sullivan's short-lived CBS adventure/drama TV series, Harbourmaster

In 1958, Reilly joined the hugely successful CBS series Lassie playing Paul Martin, a farmer, husband, and adoptive father of the show's child character Timmy. Reilly debuted in the opening episode of the fifth season, "The Storm" (1958) with June Lockhart opposite him as his wife Ruth and Jon Provost as Timmy.

In 1959, veteran character actor and comedian Andy Clyde was hired to play Cully Wilson, an elderly eccentric farmer and nature lover. When Timmy was scripted into many adventures with Cully, producers felt two adult males on the show would overwhelm the audience and Reilly was consigned to fewer appearances. His character's absence was attributed to workloads in distant fields, grange meetings, or business trips away from home.

As the eleventh season approached (1964), it was evident that young teenager Provost was outgrowing his role. Producers decided to rework the show and sent the entire Martin family to Australia where Paul would teach agriculture. Lassie remained in the States as companion to a team of forestry workers; the Martins were never seen, heard, or referenced again on the show.[1] Reilly made his last appearance on Lassie in the first episode of the tenth season, "The Wayfarers" (1964). He had made a grand total of 140 episode appearances on the show.

[] Final years

Following his stint with Lassie, Reilly was offered the role of The Professor on Gilligan's Island but declined, preferring to spend time with his family and performing in theater.[1] He worked television off and on through the seventies (appearing in The Edge of Night) and made final appearances in the early and mid-1980s. In his last years, he often joined Lassie co-star Jon Provost at fan conventions and autograph signings.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Keeping up with the Joneses!

While browsing photos, I stumbled upon some of my mother-in-law's family pictures. Phyllis Jones Williams was previously pictured in her elegant 1950's dress at a New Years celebration.

I do not know many details, but I will speak from remembered snippets heard at family reunions. The Jones were Welsh miners who immigrated to Pennsylvania to supervise laborers in the lucrative northeastern coal mining region. A young Grandpa Jones is pictured in the straw hat. A member of the family became a brewmeister at Stegmaier Brewing in Wilkes-Barre. I also do not know the identity of the children in the little ox cart. I am quite sure they are siblings of my mother in law. I do know that they lived for a time in Williamsport before building a house in the back mountain of Wilkes-Barre. Phyllis used to tell me about her father's wonderful victory garden! Grandma Jones was a severe woman who made the female children wash the kitchen floor every morning before going to school.

They were depression era children and lived a frugal existence. Hard work was expected and valued.

There are only two surviving members of this generation. Their children gather every August for a family reunion. Perhaps I will show these pictures and get some more stories over the summer.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Moo for Shazza

I am skipping Sepia Saturday to post a painting. I have been meaning to post paintings for a while but have been experiencing either technical difficulties and/or lack of time. Since I am now in full acceptance of the realization that I can only post once a week, I am posting a bovine for Shazza.

Background: I first painted "Moo" when I was a resident artist at a Lancaster gallery. I had to crank out five to six paintings every other month for a year (while working full time and raising two children). Anyway, I painted this, hung it and "hated it". Although I measured, the head seemed disproportionately huge. That with the effect of the hidden hoofs made the animals appear awkward.

I revisited the painting before my March Elizabethtown show and decided to re-size the head a bit. Now I think it appears too small. (If you look carefully, you can see the ghost image of the old chin) Anyway, Shazza and quite a few other people liked it. This will be my contribution to my sister's new store! Visit her at her new blog.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Happy Days - Tube Tops in 1953

I didn't know they had tube tops in the fifties! Pictured here are my mother-in-law, Phyllis, (right), her older sister, Bernice. I am not positive of the identity of the man looking in the truck. He was either their father or grandfather. I do like the truck!

A family picnic with another sister (Bev?) and sister-in-law, Claire.

Phyllis and Bernice laughing it up for the Holidays!

Thanks for visiting! Dig up some Sinatra and Have One More for the Road!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy New Year 1950something

This appears to be a New Year Celebration. I am guessing it took place in the 1950s.

I do not know all of the revelers pictured, but the gentleman on the far right was my father-in-law, Ralph Craig Williams. To the right of Ralph is my mother-in-law, Phyllis Jean (Jones) Williams. Both are now deceased.

Ralph was a U.S. Marine and the only survivor of his platoon at Iwo Jima. He was apparently left for dead and later identified by his dog tags. He received a purple heart.

His nickname was "Squire" and was known to be an outstanding salesman. He apparently suffered from the then rarely-understood post-traumatic stress disorder. I heard that he was a wonderful man who ran into some troubles. The life of a traveling salesman did not mesh much with family life. He divorced Phyllis in the early 1960s to live a "fast" life. He died lonely and penniless as a result of alcoholism in 1984. Unfortunately I met Ralph on his deathbed. From that brief meeting I realized that the man was a charmer. If only circumstances were a little better, I am sure he had many stories to tell.

Phyllis struggled as a single mom. It was not as acceptable in the 1960s. She was extremely dedicated to her three children, Craig, Gail and Douglas (my hubby). She made sure that all three children graduated from college. She was a fierce and passionate woman. We had some memorable arguments. I grew to love her as I came to appreciate her. She passed away from cancer in 2005.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rose Harrison Earns Her Wings

In the 1950s there was not a more stylish profession for women. My mother earned her wings after completing some college and professional airline hostess training. I believe she worked for Continental Airlines. Women had to be at least 5'6" tall and were subject to weight restrictions. She lived quite the glamorous life flying between New York and Chicago.

My father became a police officer in New York City. Walt was interested in Rose for several years. I was told that mother and one of her girlfriends "stowed away" my father and a friend in the luggage area. Mother finally agreed to settle down and marry Walter in 1958. Rose had to turn in her wings, Walter made a career change after being stabbed below the chest on Canal Street.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mixed Messages

One fine day while taking a detour off Interstate 81, we happened upon this little rural church.

It made me laugh.

I can just feel the love.

Why do I get the feeling that the members are card carrying members of the tea-bagger movement?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Not Quite Sepia Babies

The first photo is my father, Walter J. Murphy, Jr. aka the Semiconductor, wondering what to do with his newborn daughter in 1959. Walter is holding the perfect little girl.

While wandering through the Murphy archives, I thought it appropriate to show my gorgeous mother, Rose Marie Harrison Murphy, with my first wailing newborn, Annelise.

Annelise was a squaller. I didn't like her much until my maternity leave was almost over. She immediately conquered the colicky crap and became the perfect baby. I fell in love with her and quit my job at the community college.

This, however, is what she looked like during the first four months of her life.

In contrast, I will show you the perfect child. This little cherub was born in 1959. How do you like that Snow White dress?
I am not quite sure but I think the first couple are my mother's friends. The woman is my godmother. The man is her husband.

Sorry, I don't mean to be narcissistic, but yours truly is the star of the first series of Murphy Family photos.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thirty three days

I wanted to post today. I have all sorts of things going on. I just didn't get around to it. I have those paintings that I painted in the fall and winter that I haven't photographed. I have more beach scenes from our Easter trip. I have old family photos for Sepia Saturday. My art club participated in the annual chalk mural competition Saturday. My kids are keeping me busy with concerts and lessons and scholarship applications.

Instead I scheduled a dentist appointment for me and a doctor appointment for the girls at the same time on the same day and forgot them both. I am considering resigning as advisor to the art club. We managed to fund raise enough money for a trip to New York and they would rather go shopping than visit the museums.

It's that time of year. Thirty-three more days of school. I'm tired. I am sure we will have a wonderful trip and I will love them (Art Club) again before the year ends.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sepia Saturday - Old Time Religion

Sepia Saturday is a wonderful opportunity to share old photos. This was started by my prolific blogging friend and poet Kat Mortenson aka (Poetikat). There you will be treated to wonderful photos and stories posted by many bloggers. This is my second contribution. (You do not have to tint your photos sepia - just post)

Here are some unique and nostalgic photos featuring both sets of my grandparents. My Uncle Paul Harrison is pictured here in his Jesuit robes (second from right).
Pictured from left to right are my mother, Rose Harrison Murphy, an unknown Jesuit, Grandma Anna (Smyth) Harrison, Grandpa Walter J. Murphy, Sr., Grandma Anita (Reilly) Murphy,Brother Paul Harrison and Grandpa Joseph Harrison. (the harse tief holding a new form of amusement).

Grandpa supposedly stole a horse or a cow from his Kilkenny Ireland family to purchase passage to the US. He later became a chauffer for Theodore Roosevelt.

Anna Smyth Harrison hailed from (Manchester, UK) and booked passage on the Titanic (second class). Something happened and she supposedly "missed" that boat.

I do know that Joseph and Anna met in or around Jersey City, NJ. They married and produced nine children. One became a Jesuit, perhaps a penance for the horse incident.

Bottom picture Brother Paul is in the center with his mother Anna and my mother, Rose. (I am thinking I might be a bun in the oven here). I will therefore guess the date as Spring, 1959.