topiary cats

topiary cats

Monday, November 30, 2015


Mo's column was good this week.

The Holiday month has officially begun and the time has come to discuss the green and red elephant in the room - namely complex, seasonal emotions.

No matter how Holly, Jolly the season is, there's bound to be a sleigh-full of emotions as well. This is due to the what this time of year represents, and has represented in then past, to each of us. Some people love the holidays. Others hate them. Some people love to hate the holidays, while some simply hate the holidays and hate that as well. It's a complicated time of year, but it doesn't have to be miserable.

I just now realized why commercials demanding that we purchase new cars and expensive diamonds annoy me. It's because I take the season seriously and I don't want it to be about the price of the gift, or guilt and that's exactly what's being shoved down our throats. Playing emotions for greed is sinister.



This doesn't have to be a hard time of year, but looking at it realistically is important. The season is bound to be sprinkled with stress, irritations, joy, anticipation, competition, insecurity, hopes, wishes and dreams, as well as an occasional letdown, disappointment or bout of self-pity. It's this intense roller coaster that helps make it what it is, a wondrous and magical time of the year.
Stuff happens. We live in a world where stuff happening is a daily occurrence. While some stuff is worse than others. It's our ability to love the season, in spite of the stuff, that can make it so special. The key is to accept our reality and love our lives, tarnished tinsel and all.

Feel your emotions completely, without censoring yourself. Give your ups and downs as much latitude as they need. Experience your feelings to the depths of your soul and while you're at it, remember that everyone else is doing it too.

This has been a hard year on many levels, and the holidays, well, I just wish they were over.
Daya is having good experiences and that's what matters.

As for me, it is yet another year of getting over hard things. I have really, really had enough. I just want it all to be over.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Random Macros

Here are some random macro pictures from around my apartment.
My macro lens is really fun.

Pebbles Whiskers

Furball Whiskers

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Black Lava Salt

Cabernet Salt

Merlot Salt

Christmas Tree Tip

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Furball's Chance

Furball got to sit in the box! For about 20 seconds, but still.

But Furball has discovered that she can hide under the tree, which she likes better than the box.

Furball's Hideout

Friday, November 27, 2015


This year we got a new tree. I have always put up a tree for Daya, but it has been a little tabletop tree. NYC apartment and all. Our little tree is cute and white.

But this year I thought it might be nice to get a new tree. Daya picked one out and she chose well. It is a 7 ' tall tree and it has snow and pine cones, which we both like.

Daya is very happy with her tree.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Another Thanksgiving

It is another Thanksgiving.

It is good that the country takes a day off to, in theory, have gratitude. It is a good holiday.

Mostly, I'm tired of holidays. I go through them and get through them.  The time between them seems to get shorter and shorter every year The commercialism drains them of their meaning.  Buy this, buy that! Now!  Black Friday is obnoxious. All this holiday commercialism is obnoxious.

So, Thanksgiving.  Yeah.
I'm thankful for all the obvious stuff.  Health, Daya is doing well, job. And I know these are all significant things.

But otherwise, it is just another day to get through.

I wonder a lot why some people have things, blessings, family, people, in their lives and others do not.
Though I suppose humans have wondered this through all ages in every culture.
There isn't really an answer for it.
It is a true life reality that we are not always taken care of, Needs are not met, and things just don't work out. There aren't answers. We can only change ourselves; never other people. We can never make other people want to be with us. And often that has absolutely nothing to do with us at all, it isn't something we can change in ourselves.

I wish I knew what it is that causes another person to want to be with someone else. What it is within a person that makes someone else want to be with them.
Not in a need-based parasitical way, or grudging obligation; I want to know what causes a person to want to be with someone else just because they want to.

Whatever it is, I don't think I have it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

State-of-the-Art Home Security

Carey sent me the most wonderful present ever. Because she is a good friend, she was concerned for my home security. Specifically, Zombie Invasions.

So she sent me my very own peashooter!!!!!!!!

This is how big he is in relation to Furball.

I love my pea shooter MADLY.

He is too big to fit on top of the bookcase next to Bastet, in direct line to the front door, so I had to put him on top of the rats.  This is still an excellent strategic position.

The Zombies must have intercepted my box, because there was a note on the base of the peashooter.

I have received notes like this from the Zombies before, so I was not fooled and I did plant my peashooter!

Sure, not the Zombies.

Now we are safe from zombie attacks forever!

Thank you Carey!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mad ACEO: The Moon

Raise your eyes to a moonless sky
and try to wish upon a rising star
Search all you want for her blessing
but you won't find her sparkling there
Now cast your eyes to a part of the sky
where nothing but darkness unfolds
and watch as all around you
she reveals the brilliance of secrets untold
-Cowboy Junkies

Our theme this week was The Moon.
What a great theme. So much can be done with the moon.

All my cards are various sorts of pastel on Bristol, some colorfix primed, some clear gesso primed.

Moonscape 1

Moonscape 2
panpastels, unisons, rembrandts

panpastels on colorfix

panpastels on colorfix

The Moon
(based on Rider-Waite tarot)
pastel pencils on colorfix

The panpastel cards are very shimmery and sparkly...the effects are a little easier to see here.

Here are Carey's!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cactus Monday: Last Century Edition

When I was in high school, I did a lot of art. My high school also had a video production studio, and I was pretty involved with that, too. This was back in the days of VHS. We produced a video annual.  I co-hosted it. Someone converted it to digital and put it on youtube and I'm absolutely NOT sharing the link here!

What does this have to do with Cactus Monday?  Well, here is an image of me, in high school, drawing a cactus from life. It was probably for AP Art class- one year my concentration was Cacti. (I took AP art for 2 years)

I still have that pencil tin!  And probably several of the pencils. And that Shakespeare book, too.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Take Your Turn

Several years ago, when Daya was very little, I took singing lessons.  It was one of those things that I *had* to do before I die.

Actually I am a very musical person.  I come from musicians. I played piano through my entire childhood.  I sang in chorus. Once, in 8th grade, the chorus teacher- while yelling at the entire class- singled me out for having one of the best musical ears she ever encountered.  I was really embarrassed at the time but I still recognized it for the compliment it was.

I always wanted to sing.  Although I do not have a magical voice, I can carry a tune and I have "tons and tons of range"* but I am a painter at my core.  Now, I no longer need to sing. Those issues have been resolved.

But singing used to be important to me.  For many reasons, and I know what those reasons are.  Now, I am much happier as a painter and I do not need to sing.

But I had to get Voice out of my system. So I took voice lessons for a while from a singer named Breck Alan.

When discussing self-consciousnesses, Breck's answer to people was "Take your turn".
This is truly excellent advice. And Breck was an excellent teacher.

"Take Your Turn" has stayed with me through the years.

Breck Alan

I think about this a lot.  Take your turn.
Last year I put this into practical application, but it didn't work out.

It truly wasn't any fault of mine.

Sometimes I still grieve it.
I shouldn't, but I do.

*Breck Alan

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Box Challenges

Pebbles has been happy to get a chance to be in the box. She tries to lay on her back, but it is a challenge.
Can you find the kitty nose?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Old & New

The first set of real-deal nice soft pastels I ever got was when I was in college. A teacher had recommended Rembrandts, so that's what I got.

Here is my set of 60 Rembrandt half-sticks from last century, complete with original insert.

Last weekend I had a 40% off coupon at Blick.
I have a lot of pastels (no such thing as too many!) but most of them are really soft, like Senns and Unisons. Those are great for upper layers of a painting, but sometimes a harder soft pastel is nice for underlayers.  Rembrandts are harder soft pastels.

I got this new portrait selection set at 40% off, so now I have Rembrandts from this century!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cat, Cubed

Dru sent Daya a really amazing birthday present.
It arrived in a box, as do many packages.
It is perfectly cat-sized.

Isis is addicted to the Box, and has taken mostly-sole ownership of it.
Pebbles occasionally gets to sit in the box.
Furball has never gotten a chance to sit in the box but she seems ok with that.

When Isis is in the box she is a cube-cat.
She does not mind where the box is, as long as she is in it. Daya and I have been having fun sliding the cat-filled box around. Isis does not mind going for a ride.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

France, etc.

Bring me thunder, bring me steel, bring me coat of iron mail 
Bring me diamond-hardened will and let my courage never fail 
Bring the Lightning to my sword; flashing, living in my hand 
And bring warning to the horde that here, the Battle Raven stands  

I will sing to bring the thunder crashing down from out the sky 
And I'll sing to light the souls of all the warriors soon to die 
And I will sing in battle, bloody songs of power and pain 
And I will sing tonight for War to never come again
                                                                     -Battle Raven, Catt Kingsgrave

Current events generally don't appear on my blog.  But here are my short thoughts on France and the deeply sad recent events there.

I am a New Yorker. I have lived more than half my life in NYC.  It is my home and as much as it is love-hate, I love my city. I also love Paris. And I understand what they are going through because I also lived through it.

I watched that second tower fall with my own two eyes. Not on tv, not even through glass. Just a straight unobstructed close-up view in real-time. I was directly across the Hudson. I had just been in there less than an hour and a half earlier.

It roared.
It stank.
It only took seconds.

NYC today is very different from pre- 9/11. Yes, in many ways we recovered. Yes, people were really nice to each other for a while. Even to this day, strangers waiting for something will tell each other their stories about that morning.

But there is a new culture of mass fear.  We have announcements on the subway constantly.  There are police checkpoints in the subways. You can't take a glass water bottle anywhere.  Going to the Statue of Liberty is a more intense security process than going to the airport. I don't mind complying because that's just what you have to do, although I no longer carry a knife on me, as I did for many years.

Anyhow, I guess what I want to say is I truly understand what it is like to go through something like this, and what I also want to say is that living in fear and hate is never the answer. And I hope that doesn't happen to Paris.

The prospect of war is deeply disturbing to me.  But war is nothing new to the history of humanity. I can only hope it doesn't happen.

As always, I refuse to participate in collective hate and fear.

It is not apathy- I do, in fact, care very deeply. It is just that I choose peace with my energetic choices. So I am standing quietly in the peace corner, consciously projecting it, and that is my energetic contribution. Yes, that certainly IS a contribution. From a position of empathy and total understanding, it becomes all the more powerful.

More hate and fear is never the answer.

Carey said this:

If you think that terrorists can be stopped 
by appealing to their humanity, 
you're a little crazy.

And I agree to an extent. You cannot, for example, fight off hornets with the scent of lavender. You must burn the nest. One can agree and still cultivate/maintain peaceful energy without not falling into fear and hate. It is a powerful thing to have compassion for someone who is actively causing harm.

But violence plus violence never equals peace. It cannot.

There are no "good guys" and "bad guys". On the high-level government view, none are innocent no matter what ideologies they have sold to the masses to justify anything.

If it comes down to it, and someone is trying to hurt me or someone needing protection, I'm going to invoke a Warrior Goddess and do my damnedest to take that threat out.  But until that moment comes- and I pray it never comes- I'm not going to live in fear of it. I am not going to hate anyone. I will practice loving them.

I wrote more about this several years ago.
Another post here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mad ACEO: Narrative

This week Carey and I did a 5 part narrative for our ACEO theme. The task was to tell a little story with no words.

Mine are all acrylic on Strathmore textured paper and black Artagain paper.
I usedsome iridescent paint which never scans or photos properly.
2.5 x 3.5"

Salsify Journey
based on a true story

Carey's mad ACEOs are here!

Monday, November 16, 2015


Today Daya turns 10 years old.
Ten years.
An entire decade.
I have been doing this for an entire decade.

Daya is great. She is doing well, growing up nicely. Healthy.  She is ok. She has a peaceful, stable life.  For all the imperfections, it could be so much worse.

When I was pregnant my stupid ex told me that "the baby will be suicidal by the time she is 10 years old and it will be your fault."  Yes he actually said that. As absurd as it is, these things stick, like diseased ticks. But it isn't true.  I'm here, she is here, and it isn't true.

Daya is well and happy for the most part, and clever, she works hard and loves dance, learning, the cats, and me.

Daya wanted to go on a little shopping spree instead of having a party, which was great with me. She got a few dance things at the Capezio store, then we headed over to the American Girl shop.  She spent her money well and she is very pleased.  Tonight we will go for sushi.

Dru sent her a WONDERFUL and very sparkly dance bag!

It's so sparkly!

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Daya is working on her fouettes in Jumps and Turns class.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Official Portraits

There was no school Wednesday.  I went to work and left Daya home.
It is a wonderful thing to be able to do.

I told her she could sit at my drawing table.
I told her she could use some of my stuff.
I told her to do official portraits of the cats.

So she did.
All are 6x8 Inktense blocks on watercolor paper