O Captain! My Captain!

Dear friends,
Years ago, the giant husband worked for a large wholesale plant distributor. Every summer his company held a barbecue on Calf Island, Long Island Sound in Connecticut. As you are aware, a boat is often required when crossing water. It was during one of these barbecue voyages, I met the most ‘Captainish’ looking Captain I ever laid eyes on. His vessel pulled up to the dock and we party-goers hopped aboard. I asked if he wouldn’t mind my taking his picture. I had to paint this introspective face. His ocean eyes twinkled bright beneath his devil-may-care thick brows, his great silver beard shone white in the sun, and his old sea-dog straw hat reflected the brilliant yellow of his fisherman’s slicker-

The Captain/acrylic

The Captain/acrylic

“O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring…”
Walt Whitman penned, “O Captain, my Captain,” a somber yet beautiful poem in homage to Abraham Lincoln. I too admire Abraham Lincoln. Whenever I create a Lincoln portrait, I dress his figure in present-day attire. This makes me feel a bit more connected to Mr. Lincoln-

lincoln full I created this computer image with Adobe Illustrator. Again this was one of my earlier computer efforts so I used the mouse, good old-fashioned hand-eye coordination and a lot of patience…

lincoln closeAfter that barbecue, I never saw the Captain again. I have his stoic, sea-worn painted face to remember him by. As for Abraham Lincoln, I think of him often and wonder what we would have chatted about over tea…

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Hopefully My Mom Can Paddle as Well as She Sings!

Dear friends,
This past weekend I visited my folks. My mom had purchased tickets (an early birthday present for me) to see my all time favorite Broadway actor – Mandy Patinkin sing with Patti Lupone (another favorite). My sis, delicate daughter and amazingly vivacious 78-year-old mother stopped at a Vegan Cafe before the show –

mom green wall(sister, delicate daughter, beautiful mom)

The show was fantastic, no surprises there-

mandyThe big surprise was my dad’s special gift for his wife. My mother – bless her young heart – plays tennis, serves as an Art Committee Chairman, enjoys swimming…in short she loves life and lives it well. She got the idea into her head this year, she’d like to take up kayaking. Her six children advised against it. My father – usually a conservative thinker – threw caution to the wind and gave his spirited wife a shiny new, red kayak for Mother’s Day-

kayakI love my mother dearly. She is so many things to so many people. Her talents are many. She has a beautiful soprano voice. She sang the Ave Maria at her wedding, as well as mine-

mom & dad weddingI painted this watercolor portrait in 2009 for my parents’
50th Wedding Anniversary celebration

I hope when the shiny red kayak touches down on the lake for its maiden voyage, my mother can paddle as well as she sings…

Sweet Memory Found in a Dirty Cabbage Patch

Dear friends,

As a child, I never cared for dolls. My inner-tomboy wouldn’t allow it. There was however this one special baby doll, that my father brought home on a dark night long ago. Oh, she was beautiful. Her silky brown hair was fashioned into pixie and she had dark, malted milk-ball eyes. She wore a simple blue dress decorated with one little yellow daisy. She was the first doll I’d ever seen with eyes and hair like mine. It was love at first sight.

But my younger sister wanted the new doll too. She needed to add the brown-eyed beauty to her massive doll collection. My sister feared her sibling’s unusual desire for the plastic newcomer. She realized claiming her divine doll right in this situation, might be ineffective. My younger sister employed a more sinister tactic – she cried. Her blue eyes were quite convincing.

My inner-tomboy nearly relented that evening. Except as luck would have it, my inner-tomboy fell out of her upper bunk bed onto her head, ironically while showing off how far she could lean down without falling. She cried too – which she didn’t do often. My father who was within earshot came running in. In that tear-ridden moment, I asked for the brown-eyed, baby doll. Gazing at my pathetic face, my father told my sister she had more than enough dolls. And for the price of one head bump, the only baby doll I ever coveted was mine.

Sadly, I can’t remember what happened to my precious doll. Many years later, while at a younger brother’s high school graduation, I spied a beautiful, brown-eyed girl gripping a dirty, bald-headed Cabbage Patch Doll. She cupped the dolly tenderly to her shoulder. The afternoon sun was lighting her flawless face like an angel. I took a photo.

girlI came home that evening, took out my pastels and drew a cherished childhood memory –

Wise Artist Sister Told Me to Add More Art

Dear friends,
My artist sister, who is more mature and so much wiser than I, suggested incorporating more of my own artwork into anntogether. I told her my portfolio and writing pieces will be included with the revised blog design (hopefully coming soon). I let her know that up to this post, I have sprinkled random art pieces throughout other posts. This post for example highlights some work from my earlier years…

I haven’t done much sculpture, but I did make this handprint when I was 5-
hand print

print backThen there was an angel my inner-tomboy made from a cone when I was eleven. I’d snuck into my grandma’s closet and unwrapped the wool off one of her knitting cones. Grandma later asked if I knew who did it. I lied. I feel a pang of guilt that this little angel has come to represent the little devil in me.

angelI’m quite proud of this next piece, I assisted the primary artist – a man by the name of Mike-

pieta                                                                 Kidding of course…

The sculptures below are both mine. I created them my senior year of high school. They broke apart, as did all but one of my other sculptures. I’m so happy to have a few decent black and white photos of both pieces. This first one is a whimsical saxophone –

tubatuba faceThe next is by far my favorite. Had she withstood the test of time, we would have been the best of friends. She was created using a mirror. If memory serves she was at least two and 1/2 feet in length. That year I also sculpted a horse rearing up – that collapsed – and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs which died at my childhood home. Sadly, I have no pictures of those sculpts. So friends, I present to you my Suffering Woman

my sculpt

sideview And a close up of her hand which I recall being quite proud of back then-

hand closeI truly appreciate my sister’s artful wisdom.
I’ll start incorporating more art in anntogether.
Apparently, Ann has a long way to go to-get-her stuff together…

Reflections of Spring

Hello my friends,
Yesterday I was sitting in front of my (ashamedly) dirty laptop gathering my thoughts, when a springtime reflection inspired me…

Spring is a time for cleaning winter’s white dust from our homes. It is a time for reflection and renewal –
laptopSpring is a time to face new doors of opportunity and be prepared to leap through when they open-

rock:moSpring is a time to sow the seeds of dreams and cultivate inspired thoughts –

maxWhile traveling down the road of life, we shouldn’t spend too much time reflecting upon past choices –

car sideveiwWe may find we don’t have all the answers, but if we pay close attention, life sometimes sends little messages in plain sight –

successAs we nurture dear optimism, we shouldn’t expend effort reflecting on what the future has in store for us.  We should believe when one door closes another sometimes opens –

mebpRather then cling to the past or dwell on the future, we should cherish the present surrounding us –
sunsetAnd reflect in the joy of Spring’s beauty.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends… (I will be cleaning my house, beginning with my disgusting laptop!)

 

How Do You Know if Your Husband Still Likes You?

I’ve listed a few benchmarks based on years of experience for you-my friends, to help assess the status of your own unions. I personally use these common situations to answer the question: How do you know if your husband still likes you? Feel free to use the same criteria where applicable…

Your younger-married version of a healthy fish dinner – frying canned tuna, frozen mixed vegetables and mustard together is met with a fork and a smile (he might admit disgust years later).

He overcomes the enormous disappointment of marrying into large Italian family where only two people enjoy cooking and neither one of them is you (you fry canned tunafish).

He allows you to pick a tiny pimple on the tip of his nose. For the next several weeks, he roams the world with a scab the size of a pencil eraser on his face.

He does not get angry when you hand him his freshly-laundered, leather wallet complete with soggy money and warped business cards.

He is supportive when you’re temporarily replaced by an insane amalgam who calls herself  ‘first time mommy.’
Gene:ARK
You request drawer dividers to separate your numerous socks and he builds them.

He rubs your back whenever you say it’s sore, even though you complain that his back is “sooooo much bigger,” when he asks the same of you.

When you (both) forget your Anniversary and it’s no big deal, because you consider yourselves the most intimate of friends above and beyond any other titles.

To summarize: Your husband still likes you if he can recall what life was like before he met you, and he still chooses scabbed noses and fried tunafish.

Wrapping Birthday Time

If it were humanly possible I’d wrap time up in a sturdy box. I’d bind that amazing box with ribbon so secure, time would have no other choice but to stop.
me with carolineI’d paint portrait after portrait to freeze my children’s beautiful faces in their most innocent moments.

Max and Caroline

Max and Caroline

I’d fill our home with festive balloons year round so my children would stay young forever.

I’d bake rainbow cakes piled so high with color, all escape routes would be blocked.
bday cakeBut there is no sturdy box to hold time, only birthday gifts wrapped in pretty foil bows and birthday pizza cookies.

I can paint all the portraits I desire but each canvas will only reflect an older face.

Caroline detail

Caroline detail

I can make our dog wear the goofy birthday hat instead of my children, but he won’t enjoy it, and their birthdays will still arrive.
rocky with har

And my children will continue growing up and growing wiser than their silly mother…

Caroline Hands Crossed

Caroline Hands Crossed

Happy Birthday, dearest delicate daughter.

An Unusual Exotic Dancer

Admitting sheer stupidity is depressing, so it is with great humility I share this story with you-my friends.

Not far from my home, but far enough away is an exotic establishment. The nondescript building sits along a main route. Now don’t let your imagination wander, there’s no nudity involved in this story unless exposing my naked soul counts. The brick exterior of this exotic house holds no aesthetic allure other than its ‘mysterious’ blackened windows. The tall, magenta sign in front of the building – nearest the road is another matter. Whenever I happen to be driving by and get a moment to read the neon sign, I find myself thoroughly entertained. I’m fascinated by dancers’ names like Mama Lucious and Dolla Tiny Feathers…
Cloven with HeartNow back to my stupidity…the giant husband’s folks were visiting from the Land of Enchantment. One night, New Mexico Nana and Papa wanted to treat us to dinner. The six of us packed into the car, drove to a nearby restaurant and enjoyed a lovely meal out. Returning home we took a different route which lead us passed the exotic dance establishment. When I spotted the neon, magenta sign ahead, I began telling my in-laws what fun it was to read the dancers’ names. As our car passed by the glowing words, I blurted out “Wow, look at that unusual name – Montofris. That’s the best name yet!”

The giant husband and in-laws burst into hysterical laughter. In my unbridled enthusiasm, had I been unwittingly humorous? I didn’t understand what had just transpired. It took several very long minutes for the giant husband to catch his breath. When he finally calmed down he simply said, “It’s not Montofris darling, you read the sign wrong it’s Mon to Fris.” Then he began laughing all over again.

All I could do to defend myself was stammer, “They forgot to put spaces in between the words!”

The giant husband stored the Montofris gaff in his arsenal. To this day, whenever I boast of how brilliant I am, he quickly shoots me with Montofris ammo.

But who knows, I may have the last laugh yet. Somewhere out there lovely Montofris could be making happy the hungry hearts of the well-intended…

Generation tXt

The delicate daughter and the big son both abide by their home’s Cell Phone Credo:

1. Thou shall not use cell phones at the dinner table or any other table where there are real people.
2. Thou shall not text while in the presence of adult human company.
3. Thou shall love people better than cellphones, iPads, tablets, MP3 Players, iPods, Blackberrys or anything else that doesn’t have a real mouth.
4. Thou shall inform their friends of the Cell Phone Credo, because if friends have cellphones at said table, they will be most embarrassed by thy mom or giant dad. 

I find Generation tXt a little depressing. I know technology is fabulous. It allows me to reach others oceans away. But there’s something about observing kids in the same room, all friends – texting. Are they texting other friends? Are there not enough friends in the room to converse with? Are they actually conversing with each other, but only appear as if they’re texting? Are cell phones more comforting than flesh friends?

To their well-intended detriment, many teens write what they say, but often times, it’s not what they mean. This underdeveloped texting technique leads to many a miscommunication. Perhaps, more evolved body language emojis (like the example below) could help. No child would be left behind trying to dissect the meanings of unclear text messages.

This dilemma leaves me pondering two things:

1. Will the next generation of humans be born with ginormous thumbs?

2. Will there be emoji education?
 A while back I was embarrassed to learn, I was texting my daughter poop, when I thought I was being sweet and sending her chocolates…
poop emoji

Shaping Goo

Life is like gooey jello: add hot and cold water to something sweet then hope it solidifies into a fun shape. We view our lives in terms of taking shape. We view our bodies as changing shape (some more shapely than others). The glorious upside of aging (besides getting all jiggly), is the ability to look back with humor. Peering into our chilled jello bowls, we have the luxury of laughter as we recall our youthful lime-green messes.
jelloPerhaps that is why at 50 years of age, I can now giggle at pirates with eyepatches. I too wore an eyepatch. I was in fourth grade – my patch was pink (a bad tomboy color). My eyepatch had an elsatic band much like a costume eyepatch. The eyepatch covered my right eye ‘casue the left had astigmatism.

My adult jello bowl also allows me to chuckle at food handlers’ plastic gloves. I too wore plastic gloves. In fourth grade a weird skin rash decided to take up residence between my fingers. First thing every morning, my red-itchy hands were slathered with cream then stuffed into plastic gloves as to not smear my school mates.

Today, I can gaze deep into my jello bowl and say with confidence it’s okay to be jiggly. I can affectionately recall the lime-green messes. I remember the little chubby girl with the pink eye patch and plastic gloves and can honestly say – 4th grade really sucked.

If I can admit all this while smiling, I will not live my life shaping goo.
me with caroline