topiary cats

topiary cats

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Packing Instructions

The first thing I packed for competition was art supplies.

It is a fact that I am simply not capable of going anywhere without paint.
Because I need to pack small and light, I decided to take my much-neglected travel watercolor kit.

I told myself, "You can take anything as long as it fits in the kit."

Isis wants to go to New Jersey.
In my opinion, it is not advisable to pack your cat.

Friday, March 24, 2017


The way to step out of strong currents and patterns is to step sideways.
Everyone tries to go up but that never works.


And once you step sideways off the road where everyone else is rushing to insanity, at an insane pace, you are at peace to go wherever you want at your own pace without getting caught up in collective madness. And then you can't get infected by the madness and your inner self is safe and protected.

Of course our lives are made up of many pathways rolled into one life so we might have to do some sideways stepping out of some paths, and stay on others.

So many people are at unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, etc over the election and aftermath...I keep encountering them.  No matter what a person's inclinations are, it seems like some kind of contagious mental/emotional disease went around making people either completely rabid or emotionally distraught. Whichever way, it is a widespread effect.

It hit me really badly too, and I couldn't make it go away- it was absolutely horrendous. I have to basically stay away from all of it, I can't be on facebook anymore- there is too much rabid irrational insanity from EVERYONE. And I'm not a politically inclined person at all--- there's something about the current atmosphere that is spewing all sorts of negativity that attaches itself to everyone and hurts them. So I'm in quarantine, so to speak! And it works. It is the detachment that Buddhism teaches.

My coworker came into the office yesterday morning and said to me, "I saw someone with a make America great again hat on the street and my day is ruined." WHAT? I mean come on seriously. How absolutely absurd.

Seeing a hat ruined her day. It didn't really but even needing to say that is crazy.
And she's a really stable, sane, intelligent person!
That's the level of complete and total contagion and people are just swallowing it.

You don't have to swallow it or get caught up in it.

The truth is that all through history there has been upset, imbalance, and unrest.
This is not the first time, nor will it be the last.

It is a very human-collective thing though, and if it is hurting you, or is impacting you negatively, step sideways out of it, stand in your own space and make your own reality instead of following a dictated collective reality.

In times like this history is really important so we can remember and know what others went through- that it isn't just us in this place and time.

It's like when Daya at age 11 doesn't believe me when she is going through a strong emotion or a problem- she doesn't believe that I, too, experienced the exact same thing  To her, that experience is unique to her and no one else can ever understand it because she doesn't really accept that it is a universal experience. As a parent I just shake my head and keep encouraging her, knowing that one day she'll get it.

Collectively humans do exactly the same thing.

But it IS a choice to participate.
If you want to, great- do it. The world needs people like that.

But if you are in a collective flow and it is hurting you, step out.
Sideways. That choice is always available.

I did it SIDEWAYS!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday Things

I went to yoga last night.
On the way to yoga I was listening to Wayne Dyer (again/still).
I was early to class, which I like because it gives me time to get a nice spot in the room and meditate.

Normally I do not bring my phone to class because I don't want or need it there, but I decided to continue listening to Wayne while chilling on my yoga mat in such a nice peaceful environment.

When class started of course I turned my phone off and double-checked because I like to be very careful about that kind of thing.

So the teacher came in (oh, she is so wonderful! She sings during the meditation part of the class and that alone is worth going for!) and she was talking for a few minutes etc etc.  All was quiet. We settled in for opening chants and I heard something odd.

It was Wayne Dyer talking through my headphones!
Now, even though I don't think anyone really heard it except maybe the person next to me, I was so embarrassed- I never want to be that person with the obnoxious phone but it was rather funny at the same time, especially because Wayne Dyer was a long-time yoga practitioner.

So he came to chant with us.

I told this story to the teacher later on in the changing room and she thought it was fantastic that Wayne Dyer had joined us for chanting.

Daya had an excellent evening in dance...she said all her teachers and some other students were complimenting her. 

After ballet one of the moms told her how good she is, and that she could do ballet professionally, she is that good.

Which I agree with...Daya really is that good and it is because she works incredibly hard all the time.  I'm ridiculously proud of her. I have never known an 11 year old that works as hard as she does. I certainly didn't when I was that age!

She was so excited on the way home, she texted me the whole thing because it couldn't wait til she saw me.

It is so incredible when your child shares their happiness with you and that happiness is a result of not only your support but what they have done- their cumulative hard work over YEARS- and they see and feel the results.  It is good when others see recognize it too, but that is secondary.  

There is something about a cumulative process of hard work and dedication which cannot be gotten from any other source- I am so deeply glad Daya knows this at such a young age, and I hope it shapes her life in a positive way.

AND because it is my blog and i can brag on my kid if I want to--- she has straight As in honors and a 100 average in math!!

I have to figure out my FLIP project pretty soon...and it's a good one this week!
Kind of a long involved one, and I need to start because I don't have any weekend time with competition.

Speaking of competition, another mom is helping us out and everything is ok.
I do have to pay for a hotel though, ugh... but I just have to do it and make the best of the weekend.
Which is easier now that I have help and I am feeling better.

Rob has been working crazy long days all week and he's not done.
We haven't really spoken much all week and that's ok, but it also means he's completely wiped out.  Poor Rob.

I called this post Thursday Things but everything I wrote about happened yesterday!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


There is a a philosopher who has a Youtube channel and radio named Stefan Molyneux

He talks about a lot of stuff from a philosophy perspective.
And his own perspective and experience.
I don't have a philosophy background and this guy can be a little extreme at times but honestly I have to agree with a lot of what he says.
Not everything, but he makes sense.
And he has a whole lot to say about single moms. Nothing good.
AND he's not wrong, though I do think I fall firmly in the "exception" category for many specific reasons.

So I have been listening to him a lot the past couple of days and I have to stop because while I do agree with him in general, it is dredging up all my inner muck that really just needs to stay settled at the bottom of my inner pond.  There's some bad stuff there. There is no positive benefit to stirring it up and it is messing up my head and taking me down extremely dark tunnels. It is also making me feel utterly despondent and hopeless and terrible about my own life and my own parenting circumstance. Gloom and doom and failure with no possibility of good outcome. This is not good, nor is it true.

I have already done such a huge amount of self work- and I continue to do so- and I am at a place where I am self-aware enough to know how my life was affected by past circumstance and why I made the choices I made. And I own those choices, even the "wrong" ones- not "wrong" but unhealthy- but I, along with the rest of all humanity, am not perfect and should not be condemned for life decisions lacking knowledge that only age, experience, awareness, and hindsight brings. For what it is worth I have an ACE Score of 6.

You cannot throw a 5 year old into a situation suitable for a 17 year old and blame the 5 year old for screwing the whole thing up and not knowing any better. Textbooks and real life are different. I'm all for logic and reason, but we are more than that- we are beings of great feeling and there has to be balance between the heart and mind. And of course for me there is the spiritual element.

Additionally, while I still have to cope with what I consider at this point to be chronic internal pain issues that flare up sometimes, I have structures in place to move forward in a healthier positive existence. And that has taken a considerable amount of work over a long time.

Like everything it is practice and I slip sometimes.

So when I know I am being impacted by something that- while worthwhile- is starting to hurt me- I need to be aware of that and switch my input.

I went to yoga last night and I'm going again tonight.
Since I need to change the voice in my head immediately, I have Wayne Dyer on which has definitely helped tremendously.

We are influenced enormously by the input we choose- and it is always a choice- and knowing when you have to change the channel for your own well-being is pretty essential.

If you are getting into an unhealthy low-energy state you have to go get higher energy from somewhere else.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

FLIP: Crystal

Crystal Flats
9x12 pastel on Colourfix
(mostly pan pastels with some mungyo semi-hards)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Updates & Sundries

Competition Update:
Rysa (studio owner) has been reaching out to people on my behalf (which is amazing of her to do, I know she is extremely busy) and I think we might have help. I called and left a message so we still need to coordinate.

I was with Rob yesterday, stressing pretty badly, and he said he would help me. This was before Rysa contacted me. It is amazing of him, it really is- but it is also a last resort.  Rob has a lot of work this week- starting today he is working six days straight including Saturday. And he is back working next Monday.  He does renovation work, so it is very physical. After a week like that it is a lot for him to finally be off work only to have to do tons more driving plus an overnight, especially for his only evening and day off in the middle of a 12 day stretch.  But he was willing anyhow.

BRANWEN the Beneficent who lives in Boston six hours away sent me a text offering help, which is way too much driving but that's just how amazing she is.

Help from another studio mom is better because they are already there, plus I want to network with other moms which is more difficult than it might seem.

I have found that peoples' lives are already full- full of schedules, full of people- and it is difficult finding someone who has room for another friend, especially another mom-friend.  At my age people are already established in their friends and family.

On Saturday evening Daya and I walked over to the mall so she could go to the Apple store and get new headphones, which she paid for.  Afterwards, neither of us felt like leaving so we walked around for a bit and went "just-looking".

At the MAC store Daya played with the funky colored lipsticks and made a face.

On Sunday morning I accidentally woke Isis up from a nap in the sink.
She loves that sink.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Conferences and Competition

This past Thursday was parent teacher conferences.
Of course Daya has straight As in honors classes, and a 100 average in math!

The kids run the appointments outside the classrooms- keeping the lists and keeping time for the teachers. This is a really excellent way to run the conferences.

While we were waiting, Daya helped run the tables.

Dance competition is next weekend and it is a burden.
It is a burden because of the location and the schedule, which the competition people control, not the studio.

Anyhow it is in stupid freaking New Jersey this year. (Last year was Long Island which is much easier.)  The big problem is that Daya has a call time Saturday night and another first thing Sunday morning.

For us to bus it to NJ we are looking at a 2 hour trip, longer with traffic and construction.

I can''t drive and I don't have access to a car...Rob can't help because he is working all day Saturday and I wouldn't ask it of him anyhow.  That's a lot of time and driving.  Some people are staying in a hotel a few towns over which I didn't know about or plan for financially, but aside from the money part I have no transportation to and from the event and the hotel.

I'm super stressed out and upset.
I am not around for Daya's classes and I don't really know any of the other team moms.
The studio does not have a parent communication system in place.
I have been in contact with the studio but I have no answers or assistance.

So this leaves me in a really unpleasant situation which triggers all my nerves because stuff like this hits my physical boundaries and limitations and I find myself without help when I really need it.

Which sums up a whole lot of my experience in having a child from the very start.

I can't even grudgingly book a hotel because I don't have transportation and I refuse to put myself in a place of being stranded in NJ.  That means we have to leave NJ Sat night right after Daya is off stage, get home hopefully before midnight, and walk out the door again at 5:45am to do the whole trip again.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

FLIP: Smoke

Amazingly, I finished (and started) this one on Sunday night.

The Ember Tree
9x12 pastel on Colourfix (it was aubergine when I started...)

Mostly Pan Pastels and some Mungyo semi-hards.
I might be addicted to Pan Pastels.

Friday, March 10, 2017

FLIP: Sparkle

Here are some Unicornfish!

9x12 pastel on Pastelmat
Mostly Pan Pastels and some Mungyo Semi-hards.
I used several of my iridescent and sparkly pans! :)

oh my gosh I LOVE Pan Pastels!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

On the Way to Yoga...

I skipped yoga last week, and I went to visit Rob this past Tuesday, too, so I really needed to get my yoga groove back.

For a while now I have been thinking I should probably try a level 2 class but I love the teacher for my regular level 1 class.  It isn't a matter of choosing; I can do both.  So last night I took the plunge into the level 2 class.

I walked downtown after work.
There are two (2) pictures I regret not taking last night.
Words will have to suffice.

At the corner of 7th ave and 23rd st, a man was playing hockey in the sidewalk by himself.  It was a pretty intense game of hockey.  Maybe he was playing with the voices in his head?  In any case I think it was more of a game for pedestrians to avoid the puck.  Everyone kept walking normally through the hockey game and it all worked out.

There was a wall of signs at the hockey corner.
I enjoyed the irony of it.

Then as soon as I turned onto 13th st, I saw a lady walking a rather large (70 lb ish dog) and she let that dog make an entire LAKE OF PEE right in the middle of the sidewalk!  Right in the middle! Dogs pee outside all the time but people almost always make them do it at the side, or in the trees.  Not smack in the middle.  I really should have taken a shame photo.

So, yoga level 2.

It was more difficult but I felt AMAZING afterwards...and this morning I still feel amazing.

When I was 12 or 13 years old I was babysitting for a lady named Ginger Toth. She had books. I always read peoples' books after the kids went to bed.

There was a small hardcover book called Yoga for Everyday Health or something like that. Ever since then, I wanted to do yoga. It was on my Life List.

I have a cheapie yoga mat at home but Daya nabbed it.
I don't mind because I don't like the mat***, and I have been wanting to get a new one for a long time, A good one.  A nice grippy one like the mats at Integral Yoga.

*** "don't like" means it is so terrible I can't even use it.

So last night I got my Tax Refund Present (Daya got a Hamilton tshirt)- my new yoga mat. It is the same mat we use in class, and it is turquoise!


Even Isis loves it.

Monday, March 06, 2017


I had a full Waterworks Upgrade over the weekend!
On Friday (I worked from home) the super came in and changed my kitchen faucet, and I got a really nice new one which is 1) not on backwards and 2) actually shuts off.

On Saturday Rob came over and put in my new sink and my new door.

It isn't straightforward... wow, he did a lot of work!  He got me a nice new faucet, too.

Rob brought all his Cool Stuff. And he used it.

Faucet assembly!

Hacksaw for pipe-cutting!

Old yucky messed-up door!


Friday, March 03, 2017

Little Star

Daya went to the dentist last night for her cleaning.  (She is still allergic to the light)...and she had a teeny little cavity. Sigh. Under the sealant. Sigh.  

She got a little tiny cavity on her right molar (#30 for the dental-inclined)... the dentist (we both LOVE her) fixed it right away...and she let me feel it with the dental poke-tool and showed me how it wasn't just a stain. Fixing it took all of five minutes- no shot needed or anything, it was just so minor but it would have gotten worse for sure.

It is honestly no big deal, but I was really hoping to get her through childhood at least with no fillings in her adult teeth. It's harder with braces, I know that, and let's hope this is the last filling she needs.

So now Daya has a little teeny star on molar #30.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

FLIP: Messy

Carey and i are starting our projects again!
FLIP Illustration- Fun Loopy Illustration Projects.

The theme this week is Mess.

Here is Furball looking clueless and derpy after she knocked over my tray of Unisons.

"I Didn't Do It!"
9x12 pastel (mungyo semi-hards) on Uart 400.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I haven't posted anything painting-related in a little too long......
But there is something on my easel, because Carey and I decided to resume our weekly projects.

I'm glad because it really does keep me moving.

So, there is a pastel up on my easel and it needs a lot of work.
I'm using my Mungyo semi-hards, which I love madly.

On Sunday when I started my new painting, my easel gave out and I am really bothered by this.  The.... thingy.... which tightens the painting from the top has gone and died on me so I can't tighten the painting to the mast of my easel.
Which causes difficulty.

It's this thing:
See where the threads are stripped?
I don't know what this is called but surely it can be replaced..... right??

Monday, February 27, 2017


Pebbles LOVES Rob and she is also extremely self-satisfied and self-important.
Because she knows she matches the wine.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Cat Barre

Daya has converted her ballet barre into a cat toy.

Pebbles spends a disproportionate amount of time in The Box Drusilla Sent (a year and a half ago) and Furball loves the hanging catnip toy. Isis roams around looking fluffy and scratching things.

I am happy Daya has a room with nice wood floors where she can practice.
She really does have good space to practice.
All artistic pursuits require always-available dedicated space.
(SIDE NOTE: I always find it odd when people with much more living space than I have tell me they don't have room for their painting space, they wish they did make room. If it is important you make room.)

If it was up to Daya she would sleep on a gym mat in an empty room with no furniture.
(I said no to that)

This year we have removed quite a lot of her furniture and her room at this point is mostly open space.  It is very nice.  And sunny. She likes to put those huge gym mats down with the spare mattress from her top bunk.

She wanted to get rid of the top bunk but I said no. After serious consideration.
We are in a one bedroom apartment- it is an excellent apartment- but it is still a one bedroom and we really have to maximize storage space while still keeping floor space open.
So I said No to removing the top bunk.  We simply need the space and the bunk bed is very space efficient.

When I told her she doesn't have to use it as a bed- it can be mat storage- and we moved the bed across the room- and especially when she figured out she can use the spare mattress to practice back handsprings- she finally decided to like her bunk bed again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Room(s) Where it Happened

School is out all week........ these school holidays were so much better when I was a kid and I was off.....well, we didn't get as much time off back then....

Anyhow Daya is out of school this week.
Yesterday she came to work with me. It's been a while since Daya has been in the office.  I hooked up her computer, got her internet, and she played Roblox all day. And she had an unlimited supply of free hot chocolate.

After work we went to yoga together, and it was a good class.
Daya did a pretty excellent shoulder stand.
She's good with the physical part, but she needs to grow into the internal/mental/meditation part.  The infinite part. It is a different pace than she is used to- it isn't dance class. Also, she is eleven.

The asanas do have very definite benefits, internal and external, but yoga isn't about how well you can do it, or even how flexible you are (or are not).
It isn't about showing off, or what anyone else thinks.

Daya is definitely a natural yogi (she even has a yoga name! Daya is a Sanskrit name) and I wish she would embrace the internal part a little more, because it would really help her right now, but it isn't something that can be forced.

A lady came up to us after class to ask how old Daya is and to say she is really amazing. Which is true.

Then we finally used the gift card Rob gave Daya for her birthday and went to dinner.

Daya's phone ran out of juice, so on the way home we each took one of my earbuds and listened to Hamilton together.

BY THE WAY if you are not familiar with Hamilton you ought to do yourself a favor and check it out, it is seriously brilliant and amazing.

We had possibly the goofiest ride home, as goofy as possible without being annoying to others. Daya is obsessed with Hamilton, she knows the whole score and has dance moves.  I already took her to the Met to see the Hamilton portrait, Next up we have to go downtown to Trinity Church to see the grave.
Drusilla says the Museum of Finance downtown has more stuff, too.  

I grew up in New England in Newtown CT, which is a pre-Revolutionary War town (founded 1705)- so we heard a whole lot about Revolutionary War Stuff pretty much all the time.  But NYC is, of course, a fantastic place to scout out historic sites. So I'm really glad Daya is into it- we live in a perfect place to explore.

Aside from having a nice talk at dinner, I think it was a really good thing for Daya and me to just spend time together having fun and being a bit silly.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dixie and Harvey

Dru and Branwen came over last night for a little birthday party for Branwen.
Rob came over, too.

Here is a little painting I did of Branwen's cats.  Harvey (who is a girl) is on top and her mom Dixie is below. 

Pastel on black Richeson sanded paper, 8x10

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

V Day

I always do something for Daya for Valentine's day...usually chocolates.
This year I got her a box of chocolates and 2 cards... one from me and one from the cats. I sneak into her room when she is asleep and leave it for her to see first thing in the morning.


Rob took me out which I really appreciate, especially on a Tuesday night after work.

We went to a really nice place in Brooklyn- actually right in my old neighborhood a couple of blocks from Pratt. It was lovely, and the food was really good.

He also gave me a big bouquet of flowers.
The cats were intensely curious until they decided it was boring, after all.

All three cats kept photobombing my flowers...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Conversation

She: Mom please massage my back.
Me. Ok.
I massage her back, then her legs.
She: No mom! Not my legs.  My legs are fine!
Me: Since when are your legs fine?
She: Never.

Isis is pretending to be a pillow.
She un-perfect-rounded herself just in time for the picture.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Topiary Snowcat

Here is a little topiary cat in pastel. ( all Nupastel)
It is on that second sheet of blue colourfix- primed watercolor paper.
I used acrylic glitter glaze in the background for the sparkles.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Back at the Met

Last month when I went to the Met there was snow.
Same for yesterday.

Rob and I went to the Met- I wanted to show him the colonial American furniture, which he liked very much. And the Frank Lloyd Wright room.

He also liked the European Renaissance paintings.

I took this pic of Rob in the dragon mirror.

And I visited my favorite Memling painting.
I love her.

Central Park is pretty in the snow.
All the kids were out sliding around on sleds and having fun.
We found some snowmen.

Here are some more snow pictures.