topiary cats

topiary cats

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Field Trip

Daya has been asking to go to Ellis Island, so yesterday we went.  She is studying Ellis Island immigration in school, so it is very relevant.  I like taking her on supplemental field trips. So, I got Statue of Liberty pedestal reservations.  Reservations are fantastic because you skip the really long lines for the ferry.

I firmly believe in skipping long lines, if possible.

I left all my explosives and firearms at home.

I love boats and I LOVE the water. I could ride that ferry all day.  It just circles around Battery Park, Liberty island, and Ellis Island.

We went to the Statue of Liberty first.  I have been there many times, but I haven't been since before Daya was born.

I have always loved the Statue of Liberty, since I was a kid.

We went up the pedestal.  From there, you can see the statue's armpit.

The old torch from 1912 (? forgot the exact year) is there.  I remember when they did all the renovations back in the 1980s.

 I thought this sign was very ironic, somehow

Before we went to Ellis Island, I asked Daya if she was hungry. She said no. I said are you sure. She said no.

As soon as we got to Ellis Island she was positively starving.

They are doing a lot of construction on the grounds, so the cafe was closed.  We walked around a little, but it just was not worth being there with a zoned out and unpleasant child... so we called it a day and went home.

We'll go back, it is no big deal. Ellis Island is really incredible and wonderful, and it is worth spending a whole day there. Honestly, going around both the statue and Ellis Island is a lot for one day, if you want to look at all the exhibits. I think I'd rather go when Daya is in a place to appreciate it and pay attention.

I will pack food next time and hope it doesn't count as an explosive in security.

Lower Manhattan
from Ellis Island

Card today: Compass (upright)

My interpretation: Stopping to find your direction, True North, choosing your direction, getting out of being lost, seeking guidance.

Booklet says:  "As long as you orient your compass to True North- the direction of your Higher Self, you will never be lost." Entering new uncharted territories, positive new experience,keep aligned with Spirit (True north). Spirit is working in your life, even if you feel lost temporarily and everything seems dark.

Actually I do kind of feel like that right now, a bit lost. Floating around through life. So it is good to have a compass.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Glow In The Dark

Last Tuesday after yoga, I accidentally wandered into Blick.  It really was an accident, honest. Since I found myself there (by accident), I decided to check out that iridescent acrylic medium that my gorgeous and amazing friend Rolina made me aware of.  Since Rols likes it, I knew I would too.

After yoga I tend to be a little slow and spacey. So I was walking around Blick in a very happy daze, being very happily dazzled by all the wonderful colors and brushes and Assorted Array of Art Things.

Normally, I don't wander into Acrylic territory.  And when I am in Acrylic territory, I stay in Golden range. But...Liquitex has the FUNNEST mediums!  They dooo! As a matter of habit I did wander into Golden territory and I might have adopted some more paint. By accident, of course.

Including glow-in-the-dark paint.

Well, I needed it.  And I always get 10% off at Blick.

Nancy asked me what am I going to do with it, and the only sensible answer is, of course, that I will look around and find things that do not glow but should.

Here are two paintings. There is interference paint in them which is pretty and fun to work with.
5x7 acrylic on panel

Interference Gold paint blob

Card today is Movement (upright)
I cannot ignore that this card very directly reflects the painting series I have been working on. Cool!

My interpretation: Ostriches can run very fast. this one is large in proportion to the ground he is moving over, and there is nothing on the ground to impede his progress. He is carrying a nice, natural little world on his back but it doesn't seem like a burden.  Movement forward with good things. That red balloon is flying along.

Booklet says:  "You are in a time of positive forward motion." Positive momentum after coming out of a period of restriction.  New adventure and discovery. Compelled to move forward.  Doors previously shut open. Movement is also a state of mind.

Friday, May 22, 2015

One Hundred Years Ago

Right now, 100 years ago, World War 1 was happening.

Trench warfare.  That was a really, really nasty piece of business.

Here is a little description of life in the trenches, from this link:

Misery in the Mud
Life in the trenches was nightmarish, aside from the usual rigors of combat. Forces of nature posed as great a threat as the opposing army. Heavy rainfall flooded trenches and created impassable, muddy conditions. The mud not only made it difficult to get from one place to another; it also had other, more dire consequences. Many times, soldiers became trapped in the thick, deep mud; unable to extricate themselves, they often drowned.

The pervading precipitation created other difficulties. Trench walls collapsed, rifles jammed, and soldiers fell victim to the much-dreaded "trench foot." A condition similar to frostbite, trench foot developed as a result of men being forced to stand in water for several hours, even days, without a chance to remove wet boots and socks. In extreme cases, gangrene developed and a soldier's toes -- even his entire foot -- would have to be amputated.

Unfortunately, heavy rains were not sufficient to wash away the filth and foul odor of human waste and decaying corpses. Not only did these unsanitary conditions contribute to the spread of disease, they also attracted an enemy despised by both sides -- the lowly rat. Multitudes of rats shared the trenches with soldiers and, even more horrifying, they fed upon the remains of the dead. Soldiers shot them out of disgust and frustration, but the rats continued to multiply and thrived for the duration of the war. Other vermin that plagued the troops included head and body lice, mites and scabies, and massive swarms of flies.

As terrible as the sights and smells were for the men to endure, the deafening noises that surrounded them during heavy shelling were terrifying. In the midst of a heavy barrage, dozens of shells per minute might land in the trench, causing ear-splitting (and deadly) explosions. Few men could remain calm under such circumstances; many suffered emotional breakdowns.

(When I was in college, I had to do a book cover for All Quiet on the Western Front.
That's how I got into having pet rats, actually.  I put rats all over the cover of the book, and for that I researched them.  In my research I found- instead of really dirty ugly trench vermin- these really cute and smart critters.)

Oh yeah, there was chemical warfare too.  That was absolutely gruesome. It was first used in April 1915. I always thought gas masks looked really scary.

TRUE FACT:  Fritz Hauber is considered to be the "Father of Chemical Warfare".  What a distinction.  His wife, Clara- who was also a scientist- was so upset with and against his use of science to kill other humans that she committed suicide after having a huge fight with him about it.

I think it is good to remember history, and to remember how others have suffered. It keeps our own lives in perspective. It knocks petty drama out of any level of meaning and importance.

Some say history is important so we don't keep repeating the same mistakes- but I don't have that much faith in humanity. Not on a mass level.  On individual levels, yes.  But it's always the same old nonsense with a different backdrop.

Tomorrow I will post something less grim.

Card today: Cleaning House (reversed)
HAHAHAHAHA oh that's FUNNY (all I can do at this point is laugh senselessly when it comes to my apartment)

Aside from my apartment being Cleaning House (reversed), I am not really doing so great on my May goals. Oh my gosh though, this whole month has been insane.  I'm not kidding when I say I am basically just coming home to sleep during the week.

My interpretation: Get to work.......

Booklet says:  Clean house, either literally or emotionally. Let go. Make space.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Getting Growed Up

Daya had dance pictures this past weekend.  For six different classes. At six different times, all spaced out. It was an all-day affair, full of too many people in a small space and much mayhem.

I printed out her photo tickets, paid for everything, wrote the time and location on each, and told her she was responsible for the rest.  She had to pack her costumes, keep track of them, be in the right outfit in the right place at the right time. She also had her phone.

She said "Ok, no problem."  I said call me if you need anything.

And I left her at dance and went home.

And it all went perfectly. When I went to pick her up, the owner of the studio told me how impressed she was. Daya was very independent, responsible, and mellow about the whole thing. She handled everything herself. She did a fantastic job. She had fun with her friends. There were no issues, no problems.

I am very proud of Daya.  She is growing up very well.

She got her favorite dinner- sushi- afterwards.

Card today Rock Bottom (upright)
This is such a cool image!

My interpretation: Everyone has to hit rock bottom at some point, at least once. It's a pretty horrible place but there's only one way to go and that is up and out. It is a process of growth, and ultimately it is up to us how we react to it and where we go from there.  Rock Bottom can either culminate in our death- whether that is physical, emotional, metaphorical etc- and actually a death aspect is usually involved- but we can resurrect or stay ghosts.  It's up to us.

Booklet says: "Surrender and acceptance are the keys to freedom."  Reaching a point where you can no longer move forward in the same manner. Proverbial brick wall.  Could be a loss and you don't know where to turn. Old ways of doing things have to be discarded.  Surrender and accept, and the way out will appear. Release.  Can be a sign that a miracle is about to occur, but only if you let go completely.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thoughts for, um...Thinking

I was thinking about that Internal post from last Friday, and I was thinking about what someone said to me a couple of years ago about me embarrassing myself when it comes to people.

So I asked Carey if maybe I am embarrassing myself.  And we got to talking about stuff and things. The both of us are very extremely internal, and we both live very deeply on that level. We both paint, and we both have kept journals for many years.  (Carey is more of a writer than I am though; I have no interest in writing other than this blog and the writing I have to do for work.)

Anyhow, I had a thought that maybe the writing is a way to deal with the depth.  Maybe it is because this is just not the kind of stuff I talk to anyone about, ever.   (Except Carey sometimes)

In the grand scheme of humanity- throughout layers of time, history, cultures, location- our little lives are nothing special.  And yet, at the same time, our lives are special.  It is a paradox.  Zoom in, zoom out.  I love thinking about the people who occupied the exact same space as me in a different time. (The original wooden escalators at Macy's, for example, put me in this mind frame every single time.) They have all come and gone. And yet, we overlap.  We are connected.

I like to think about these people in the past.  I also like to think about people right now, at this exact moment, all over the world, who might be going through things.  All kinds of different situations. People I don't know, or even know about.  But I still think about them, because I know they are out there.

Macy's still has some
original wooden escalators.
I love them.

Card today: Sad Embrace (reversed)
Damn...oh well.

My interpretation: Desolation, despair, loneliness, no comfort, dark night of the soul, depression, grief, mourning, permanent loss

Booklet says:  "Love is a part of life.  Let go and allow time to heal you."  Holding on to suffering, let go of unfairness, embrace sadness so it can dissipate.  Trials and tribulation build character.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Blight of Hipsters

This post has its very own soundtrack!
hipster [hip-ster]  noun, Slang.
1.a usually young person who is trendy, stylish, or progressive in an unconventional way; someone who is hip.

Fuckwit. definition 1 excerpt- which was very clearly written by a conglomerate of self-absorbed snobby hipsters.

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.

1. Didn't we already do that in the 90s with "alternative" and "grunge"?

Although "hipsterism" is really a state of mind,

It's a self-absorbed fuckwitical form of mindlessness

usually too "edgy" for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer.

1. Nothing is too edgy for NYC.
2. Arrogant, much?

The "effortless cool" urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic.

1. Yes, chain store mass-produced ensembles which cater to suburbia and beyond, not hipsters.  (For the record, I have nothing from any of those shops)

However, I am not cool nor have I ever wanted to be.  I do/wear what I like.  I could care less what others think.  Hipsters had better not trendify leopard print. Then we will have an even more serious problem.

2. Arrogant, much?

It is a myth that most hipsters are unemployed and live off of their parent's trust funds.

I call bullshit on this one.

For example, the surge of jeans made to look old and worn (i.e. "distressed"), that have become prevalent at stores such as The Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Hollister, were originally paraded by hipsters who shopped in thrift stores years before such clothing items were mass produced and sold to the mainstream consumer.

1. I don't wear jeans.
2. The surge of worn, holey, faded jeans etc was popular back in the 1980s.

2. Hipster
Definitions are too mainstream.
Hipster's can't be defined because then they'd fit in a category, and thus be too mainstream.

1. Arrogant, much?
2. No one cares.
3. They have a name.  Hipster.

This is my problem with Hipsters:  they destroy neighborhoods and drive people out because they trendify affordable working-class areas that have their own unique quirks and charms and force people out of their homes.  They suck the character out of our neighborhoods and replace it with the same generic culture that can be found everywhere else.  We already have a severe affordable housing crisis here, and these damn hipsters are making it worse.

They are parasitical, like termites.  Except worse.
Nasty Termite Hipster

All Hipsters should go live in North Dakota. In fact, it should be mandatory. Cities are popular. So I really think North Dakota is the place to go.  Let them turn ND into a generic counter-culture paradise.  They could even have Hipster Communes. I'm pretty sure North Dakota needs more people anyhow, and there is lots of space for them to sprawl out.

Ridgewood is getting gentrified.  My friend's family has been there for over 100 years, she has lived her entire life there.  And now she is seriously thinking of moving to a different neighborhood.  Her landlady just raised the rent by quite a lot because... "Well, you know what is going on with the neighborhood."  She actually said that.  And did that. Because she can. It makes me absolutely FURIOUS.

And there are even worse stories about landlords doing very underhanded things to drive current tenants out so they can charge more rent to newcomers.
Now you can go read what Carey has to say about hipsters.

Card today: Coming Apart (upright)

My Interpretation:  detachment from anything that is no longer relevant, falling away of something in order to facilitate growth, taking apart to look at insides, cracking a shell, coming out of a shell. Old leaves falling off a tree. Being torn away from your neighborhood because of hipsters skyrocketing the rents.

Booklet says:  "Now is the time to take separate paths"  Put an end to something that is no longer serving you.  End of a commitment or promise. Reassess goals and values. Separation bringing good fortune.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Acrylics and Oils

If I had to pick a medium that is most parallel to oils- as far as working properties goes- it would be soft pastels.

Not acrylics.

But as far as end results, for the most part, it is difficult if not impossible to tell the difference between oil and acrylic.

It is true that oil can take a higher pigment load than any acrylic paint.  It's just a physical property.

Here is a comparison chart between several paints, all artist-grade.  Oil, Golden, and Golden Open.
These are all single pigment colors, the same ones with two exceptions as noted.  Paint application is the same, as close as possible as I could get it between all paints.

Click images to enlarge.

You can really see the difference on the palette between the Ultramarines.  These are piles straight from the tube- Golden Open, and Lukas 1862.  You can see not only is the pigment load different, but the refractive index is different.

Golden Open (acrylic)                  Lukas 1862 (oil)

Lisa asked a question about my plein air gear. Transporting wet panels.
Everything fits in a backpack, (Well, my Yellowstone box doesn't, so if I bring it out I just carry it)
My tripods have carry cases with straps, I just hang it crosswise across my shoulders, making travel hands-free.  I practically require being hands-free.  Wet panels go right in the back of the box.  Video is here.

You can also use separate wet panel carriers.  Most people have cars, I guess.  I don't.  I walk everywhere and I have to traverse the subway and stairs and buses and streets- so I'm minimalist when it comes to gear. Backpack.  Tripod. That's it.

If I want to be ultra-minimalist I can just pack up my Belly River box with some panels, paint, solvent, and brushes, a little oily rag, and nothing else.  I have done that.  It's fun.

I did a lot of research, and practice, and my setup evolves as time goes on and i discover New Stuff. But I do pretty much have it down to a science.  And I love plein air gear setups just as much as regular art supplies!

Plein air isn't supposed to be bring-the-whole-studio-along.  That's part of the fun of it. Do a lot with a little.

Card today: Unexpected Visitors (reversed)
Oh gosh... eek...

My interpretation: Nasty surprises. Bad news.  Rude people.  Bugs. Expecting the worst when in fact it is only a cute little bunny. Worry.  Those negative, mean, and persistent thoughts in our heads.

Booklet says:  "If you expect the unexpected, you'll be prepared for miracles."
Sometimes the thing which you most desire is kept away from you because it is not for the Highest Good. loss or disappointment due to a pattern that cannot be understood yet.  Forced change,  Adapt and accept, and a more fulfilling path will be revealed.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tripod Love

Is it possible to be in love with a tripod?

Because I am.

I just got a new tripod.  This has been long-overdue for a few years.  I have been looking around but didn't find anything until... this wonderful tripod.

My Yellowstone box and my old tripod are NOT FRIENDS.  This is understandable though, as my old tripod doesn't like anything heavier than 13.2 lbs.  I LOVE my old tripod, and it is perfect for my 2 smaller boxes, but my fully loaded Yellowstone is much heavier.

NOTE:  I very highly recommend my old tripod.  It is a fantastic tripod for a fantastic price. I have been using it for the last five (5) years and it has held up perfectly.  I will keep using it for my small boxes. This is great because I leave the quick release plate screwed into the bottom of my box.  Now I don't have to worry about forgetting it.

My new tripod holds up to 26.5lbs, and can happily withstand even my fully-loaded Yellowstone.  It is a good price- these things can go for $500+! I like the carrying bag, and it isn't heavy.  Setup is fine.  There are more tilt options which is nice in case I'm on uneven terrain or something. And I still need to test this, but my umbrella might attach to the pan handles.  That would be really fantastic.

WARNING: The quick release did not want to release the first time I released it. No matter what. I leaned in for a closer look to make sure I was doing it right (I was), and I punched myself in the nose.  That was a one-time incident, however, as the quick release is now behaving properly.


Panpastel jars are the most awesome solvent cups EVER for plein air.

Left: panpastel jar  
Right: jar that came with my Belly River box
Card today Education (reversed)

My interpretation: Hmmm... I'm trying to think of an interpretation for a reversed meaning here. All I have is holding on to old lessons that do not serve in the present, the need to open the mind to new experiences, not getting stuck in old outdated thought/knowledge, not applying lessons learned to current circumstance.  Need to learn new things, or no new learning taking place.


Booklet says:  "Life is filled with lessons.  Be teachable."  Desire to know it all and be right, Not-knowing being a magical place.

Hmmm.  I'm going to ponder this one.  I don't know a whole lot more than I know.  In general, I couldn't care less if I am wrong.  Really.  But I might not always come across that way.  In fact, the friend who dumped me said to me (in all caps) YOU ARE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT...though I never claimed to be.  I am cool with being wrong. (and I'm not even sure what she was referring to when she said that)

However, when I speak my viewpoints I am confident and very direct. I can see how that might be misinterpreted.  And I am honest. If asked, I will say what I honestly think.  Anyone who really gets to know me should know better.  I don't have any particular need to be right or correct.

But I will not apologize for being confident.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Slinging Paint Around in Poughkeepsie

Yesterday i met up with Dru and Branwen in Poughkeepsie.  We had an amazing walk.  There is an elevated river walk crossing there, which is amazing and spectacular and all things wonderful.

While I have always loved the Hudson, I have mainly done so from the bottom to the top of Manhattan. Loving the Hudson from outside NYC is just as amazing.  Basically, I am deeply in love with the Hudson River.  

Fishies in the creek

The elevator up.  It is glass!

Looking North

 Looking South

 Bird Poop Rock

Wall of Shale

 Pretty Dandelions

Lots of signs.


I made a painting.
6x8 oil on panel.
About 40 minutes.

Card today is Wishing Well (upright)

My interpretation: Make a wish, holding on to hope, dreams and wishes.

Booklet says:  "Desire is the sacred impulse for life. Feel it but let go of all attachments to ownership."  Relationship between desire and inspiration.  New life.  Soul mate or child. Presence of unseen forces which enable new beginnings. Set intention, then step aside and let it happen.  Prepare to be amazed.

Wow, I like this card, too!!

Friday, May 15, 2015


Carey said something in this post:

It's more than I am wont to share to begin with, 
honestly, as I am so extremely internal.

Me too. Oh, me too!

This blog, and sometimes my paintings, are my inside-out.  It is really ironic that I write internal stuff and it is out there publicly. Because I am such a private person, and I am so deeply internal.  I think about this, and wonder.

Perhaps this blog is somehow my balance to that.  Maybe on some level it is my way of being brave in a way which I find to be very scary and facing that fear. That fear of internal exposure. Sometimes it does make me nervous.  But truly, I'm not scared of very much these days.  I have Perspective.

These are the things I fear most:

*A health crisis, either mine or Daya's
*Losing my job.  Even though I get regular job offers/leads through LinkedIn, and I have not looked for new employment for the last nine (9) years- but I really like my job and I want to stay.
*Physical disability/dismemberment
*Going blind

As far as the usual fears people have, I'm not really afraid of dying, except that it would put Daya in a very bad place. I have paperwork in place but.....well, there are some issues there and I have to change it but I don't know what to change it to..... So I can't die. At least not until Daya is an adult.

Public speaking doesn't bother me; I used to do that for my job.
Being alone doesn't bother me. I am always ok alone.  That does have its scary challenges, particularly with a young child involved, but being alone in and of itself does not scare me one bit. 

Well, that is as internal as it gets.

Card today: Golden Palace (upright)

My interpretation: Attaining reward at the end of a long journey/struggle/effort.  That Golden Palace does not look like an easy place to get to.  But it does look worth getting to.  Efforts and struggle being worthwhile, end of a long journey, rewards for efforts, light at the end of the tunnel, struggles and hardships coming to positive end.

Booklet says: 'There is always enough" Good fortune, ambitions fulfilled, emotional fulfillment, a time of happiness that is long-overdue, material gain, tangible rewards.  Self worth is not what you have, it is what you are.

I quite like this card.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


I recently finished an amazing book...and in that book was a blurb about NYC that I have so very often thought:

It's one thing to see New York City on tv or imagine it 
as an author brings it to life on the page, 
but it's another thing entirely to be in the midst 
of the action and energy.  
It pulses out of every crack in the sidewalk, 
from signposts, and from mortared bricks. 
 It's like everyone who's ever been there left a little bit of themselves behind, making the city itself a living organism.
                                                                         from Sugar by Dierdre Riordan Hall

from the top of the Central Park Reservoir. 2014

Central Park
Conservatory Water, 2014
It's all true, but that last bit especially- it is so very, deeply true. It is actually a tangible feeling; a presence. The city holds all of its history and all the people who have ever been here.  It is something I have consciously noticed and been aware of during my whole life here.

from 59th Street Bridge. 2015
Rockerfeller Center 2014

I have said it before, this city is the ultimate love-hate relationship. And sadly, it has gotten more and more generic over the years.  9/11 changed the city forever.  Gentrification is a problem.  There are a whole lot of other problems too. (The horses in Central Park are NOT a problem!!) However, NYC still contains all cultures, all languages, all frequencies of humanity. All different levels of life and lifestyle. It is a micro-cosm of the entire planet. 
from Central Park Reservoir, 
looking West 2014

From the top of the
Empire State Building, 2013

Grand Central Terminal
3 days ago
I remember when the ceiling was black, 
before they cleaned it up so nicely

My Work Neighbor,
who says hi to Carey

And if you are here, and if you drift around for a bit, whether it is down 5th Ave along Central Park, the cobblestone streets in SoHo, or along the Hudson on the West Side, anywhere really- you'll feel it too.

Lower Manhattan 
from Governor's Island, 2012

Statue of Liberty, 2003

Card today: Slow and Steady (upright)

My interpretation: Keep moving forward, keep following the lights, patience, don't rush, coming out of a shell, things in their own time.  The mask in the card which is coming undone- new perspectives.

Booklet says: "Slow and steady wins the race"  Easy movement, unhurried steps, steady heart, take life at a leisurely pace.

I don't like to rush. Which is odd since I live in NYC which is a FAST city, and I do go fast a lot- I walk fast, my mind goes fast, I think 4 minutes is a long time to wait for the train......however- I like to consciously be in the moment of whatever I am doing.  I might be walking fast down the street, or over the bridge, but that's because it is comfortable. It is my natural pace.  Not because I am hurrying to the next thing.  I am fully present in the moment. It's a mental thing.  And I meditate a lot, which slows me down and balances the fast.