Tuesday, December 31, 2013


"I sat in the gradually chilling room,
thinking of my whole past the way
a drowning man is supposed to,
and it seemed part of the present
part of the gray cold and 
the beggar woman without a face ..."

-- M.F.K. Fisher, 
The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition

Ceramic statue 12-31-13

"Th-th-th-that's all folks!"

-- Porky Pig

Monday, December 30, 2013

Memento mori

"All photographs are memento mori.
To take a photograph is to participate in another person's
(or thing's) mortality, vulnerability, mutability.
Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it,
all photographs testify to time's relentless melt."

-- Susan Sontag 

Self portrait 12-30-13

"It's being here now that's important.
There's no past and there's no future.
Time is a very misleading thing.
All there is ever, is the now.
We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it;
and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one."

-- George Harrison

"How did it get so late so soon?
 It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?"

-- Dr. Seuss

memento mori
"remember that you will die"

There's that beautiful song in the musical Rent, called "Seasons of Love." The entire cast sings over and over about the five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes that make up a year in everybody's life. They repeatedly ask the question "How do you measure" the minutes that comprise those years, and they offer some possibilities:

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife ...
In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died

They're all good suggestions. But I chose to measure the past year of my life in faces. 

And in doing so, along the way I simultaneously measured with pretty much all of the items on the Rent list: daylights, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee, inches, miles, laughter, strife, truths, tears, burnt bridges, death. 

I don't know how significant my life is in the grand scheme of things. I'm guessing not very. When my life is finally over, probably aside from my family, I won't register on the radar much. The universe probably isn't going to buckle at the knees over the loss of a middle aged (former) insomniac from Ohio who spent her days in a small upstairs room taking pictures of herself and her toys. 

It's unlikely that any of my photographs from 2013 will wind up in a gallery, or a book, or a museum, or a store. My blog will never get a million hits. That was never my goal anyway. I'm not interested in where my photographs end up. I'm interested in where my photographs take me, whether they take me toward something I have yet to discover, or whether they take me away from something I need to leave behind.

As Susan Sontag said in today's top quote, "All photographs are memento mori." They're records and reminders of what we all have to lose, evidence of somethings and someones that will eventually be permanently erased. I guess my photographs represent that tiny, tinny voice inside us all that cries "I was here!" "I lived." "I loved." "I struggled." "I tried." "I kept going." "I learned." "I saw." "I cared." "I didn't give up when I was too exhausted to want to keep living." "I found a way to survive." "I wrestled the demons." "I stumbled upon joy."

It's been an unforgettable year.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart to anyone who took a few minutes out of their five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred to stumble along with me.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gold dust woman

"Pulvis et umbra sumus."
(We are but dust and shadow.)

-- Horace, The Odes of Horace

Self portrait 12-29-13

"We're all more than the person we show to everyone else.
At least I hope so.
Because I feel like there's more to me than that.
I just haven't had the chance yet to show it."

-- Jessi Kirby, Golden

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."

-- Pablo Picasso

Saturday, December 28, 2013

End of days

"Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky."

-- Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds

Self portrait 12-28-13

"And the sunset itself on such waves of ether
That I just can't comprehend
Whether it is the end of the day, the end of the world,
Or the mystery of mysteries in me again."

-- Anna Akhmatova, The Complete Poems

"'One day,' you said, 'I watched the sunset forty-three times!'
And a little later you added:
'You know, when one is that sad, one can get to love the sunset.'
'Were you that sad, then, on the day of the forty-three sunset?'
But the prince made no answer."

-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Friday, December 27, 2013


"The feeling is less like an ending than just another starting point."

-- Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

Self portrait 12-27-13

 "Everything comes to an end.
A good bottle of wine, a summer's day, a long-running sitcom,
one's life, and eventually our species.
The question for many of us is not that everything will come to an end but when.
And can we do anything vaguely useful until it does?"

-- Jasper Fforde, The Woman Who Died a Lot

I'm feeling the end of the year bearing down upon me, and with it, the end of this 365 days project.

I always have mixed feelings as I face the end -- sadness, loss, joy, peace, fear, excitement, irritation -- the usual emotional cocktail.

But this time around, mostly what I feel is deep and immense gratitude for a project that became a lifeline during a very difficult and challenging year.

As I finish out the next four days, I have to make a decision:
Take a break and finally catch up on my ironing?
Or do another 365 project?
And if so, what?
Make more faces?
Make something different?

Waiting for inspiration to strike as the year winds down and the clock ticks.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Silly old bear

"The first of my father's illusions was 
that bears could survive the life lived by human beings ..."

-- John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

Miniature wood mannequin in a bear mask 12-26-13

"We invent what we love, and what we fear."

-- John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


"I'm always down for a Spice Girls reunion.
I love the Scary hair and platforms."

-- Melanie "Scary Spice" Brown

Medusa gingerbread cookie 12-25-13 

"There's nothing sadder in this world
than to awake Christmas morning
and not be a child."

-- Erma Bombeck

My son Sam and I baked cutout gingerbread cookies together, for two very specific reasons:

1. Sam wanted to eat the dough. He's been overdosing on Starbucks gingerbread lattes and wanted a hit of the real thing.

2. I wanted to make a Medusa gingerbread "man."

Our cookbook that we got the recipe from didn't call them gingerbread men, though. It called them gingerbread "people."  So our cookies weren't just delicious, they were also PC. (Which, as you probably already know, stands for "pretty cute.")

Sam likes to bake. He makes really delicious biscuits and beautiful pumpkin pies. He started "baking" when he was steady enough to stand on a chair beside me at the kitchen counter. He was about 1 1/2. I'd fold down one of my aprons and sort of swaddle him in it, then give him a bowl, some spoons and measuring cups, jars of spices, and let him go at it. He could put whatever he wanted into his bowl, and mix and stir to his heart's delight while I made muffins, or pizza crust, or cookies. I'd let him dump pre-measured cups of sugar and flour into whatever I was making. Sometimes it hit the bowl. Sometimes it hit the counter. Sometimes it hit the floor. There was usually a big mess to clean up, but it didn't matter. Being side-by-side together in the kitchen -- that's what mattered.

It still is.

Sam is all grown up. But something about baking cookies together brought back his little kid days, and that warmed me more than the heat coming from the oven or the spices in the gingerbread. While he licked batter from a spoon and piped faces and buttons on the "men," I made my Medusa cookie and cleaned up the bowls, the counter and the floor.

Some things never change.

Of course, I played with my food before I ate it:

Man. Person. Whatever.

I think I'll just call her a "Spice Girl."

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pieces on Earth

'"But I never looked like that!'
'How do you know? ...
You are the only one who can never see yourself except as an image;
you never see your eyes unless they are dulled 
by the gaze that rests upon the mirror or the lens 
(I am interested in seeing my eyes only when they look at you) ..."

-- Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes

Self portrait 12-24-13

"You cut up a thing that's alive and beautiful to find out how it's alive and why it's beautiful,
and before you know it, it's neither of those things ..."

-- Clive Barker

I look at myself.
A lot.
Not so much in the mirror, but through the lens.
As a self-portrait photographer, it's kinda part of the job.
Maybe I look at myself too much. Maybe not enough.
I am not exactly sure what it is I'm searching for.
What it is I'm chasing.
What it is I'm trying to reveal to myself.
But still, I look. I search. I chase.
I dissect.
And so often, when I pull up the images on my computer, I think, "Is that really how I look?"
Sometimes it's pleasing. Sometimes it's startling. Sometimes it's disappointing.
Sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes it makes me think. Sometimes it makes me angry.
Sometimes it makes me wonder. Sometimes it makes me question. Sometimes it makes me sad.
Often, I alter the actual image, I vandalize it, until it feels right. Until it feels real. Until the picture hitting my eyes matches the one hidden in my head -- like two dissonant, agitating notes, one sharp, one flat, brought into tune little by little by little until there is peaceful harmony.

I suppose that when I find the whatever it is, I'll stop looking.
It's like that "hot and cold" game, where you're looking for a hidden something, and another person guides you towards it. When you're far away from it, they say "cold." "Colder." "Freezing." 
But when you home in, they say "warm." "Warmer." "Hot." "Hotter!" "Boiling!"
And often, you don't know what you're searching for until you find it.
Until you see it. Until it's right in front of your face, looking back at you.
Maybe when my eyes finally land on whatever I'm searching for, the dissonance will quiet down and I'll find that elusive harmony. 
I'll find that peace.

Maybe that's the "what."

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a happy one.
If you don't, then I hope you have a really incredible Tuesday night.

Peace out.

Monday, December 23, 2013

All wound up and hopping happy

"To get the full value of joy 
you must have someone to divide it with."

-- Mark Twain

Wind-up hopping happy faces 12-23-13

"You've got to S-M-I-L-E to be H-A-Double-P-Y!"

-- Shirley Temple Black

"Find ecstasy in life;
the mere sense of living is joy enough."

-- Emily Dickinson


-- Van Halen

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I'm dreaming of a wet ... White. Wait. WHAT? Christmas.

"... only darkened trails of rain could paint your face upon a pane ..."

-- John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

Self portrait 12-22-13

"The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house.
All that cold, cold wet day."

-- Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

"'I'm still crazy. The rain feels good. I love to walk in it.'
'I don't think I'd like that,' he said.
'You might if you tried.'
'I never have.'
She licked her lips. 'Rain even tastes good.'
'What do you do, go around trying everything once?' he asked.
'Sometimes twice.'"

-- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I has been raining nonstop for days here in northern Ohio.

I went outside and played in it anyway.

I'd prefer snow. But sometimes you've gotta work with what you have.

If it was snowing, I'd be up to my eyeballs in it.

Oh, wait, I am up to my eyeballs in it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tangled up in b'loons

"We know that we come from the winds, and that we shall return to them;
that all of life is perhaps a knot, a tangle, a blemish in the eternal smoothness.
But why should this make us unhappy?
Let us rather love one another, and work and rejoice.
I don't believe in this world of sorrow."

-- E.M. Forster, A Room With a View

Smiley face balloon Medusa with smiley face balloon snakes hair 12-21-13

"Straightaway I was 'ware
So weeping, how a mystic Shape did move 
Behind me, and drew me backward by the hair,
And a voice said in mastery, while I strove ...
'Guess now who holds thee!' -- 'Death,' I said, but there,
The silver answer rang ... 'Not Death, but Love.'"

-- Elizabeth Barret Browing,  
Sonnets from the Portuguese 1: "I Thought how Theocritus" 

"Amarantha sweet and fair,
Ah, braid no more that shining hair!
As my curious hand or eye,
Hovering round thee let it fly."

-- Richard Lovelace, 
"Song to Amarantha, that she would Dishevel her Hair"

Happiest Medusa ever.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Waddaya think cookies grow on TREES?

"Sophie and I would use her Christmas break to make 
homemade treats from our very own kitchen.
I mean, if thousands of meth addicts can do it, why can't we?"

-- Celia Rivenbark, 
You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning

Self portrait 12-20-13

 "They were almond cookies,
although they could have been made of
spinach and shoes for all I cared.
I ate eleven of them, right in a row.
It is rude to take the last cookie."

-- Lemony Snicket, Who Could That Be At This Hour?

"The measuring and mixing always smoothed out her thinking processes --
nothing was as calming as creaming butter --
and when the kitchen was warm from the oven overheating
and the smell of baking chocolate,
she took final stock of where she'd been and where she was going.
Everything was fine."

-- Jennifer Crusie, Maybe This Time

The holiday candy has really been piling up around here, and nobody was eating it.

And the pool where I swim is closed for re-painting, so I had the morning clear.

So I chopped up all of the candy into chunks -- chocolate bars, chocolate candies, six little chocolate Santas from last year, an entire Whitman's Sampler -- some filled with nuts, some filled with caramel, some filled with peanut butter, some filled with toffee. I chopped up two chocolate turkeys, a chocolate cornucopia, some chocolate covered Oreos, chocolate covered pretzels, and a little bit of leftover Halloween candy (i.e. one fun-size Nestle Crunch bar, and a mini $100 Grand Bar). If it had anything to do with chocolate, it went under the knife.

I had a pretty big bowlful of chunks.

Then I mixed up a double batch of my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, but substituted the bowlful of chocolate-covered everything for the chocolate chips. So they were sort of like candy-bar cookies. Not quite chocolate chunk. More like chocolate junk.

And lemme tell ya, my house smelled pretty damn delicious.
(And baking is pretty effective therapy. Maybe that's why so many people bake during the holidays.)

Because people keep giving us plates and plates of cookies, and fudge, and bags of Chex Mix, and peanut brittle, and homemade candy, and ... well, you get the picture. It's the holidays, so people feel compelled to bake. And even though such gifts might appear to be gestures of kindness and generosity and good will, I'm starting to think these desperate folks are just trying to keep the crazy at bay.

(By the way, a note to anyone who has the urge to drop off any more sweets at our door: we'd rather have wine. Wine is also pretty effective therapy, with fewer calories and fewer dishes to wash. And just for the record, I am not leaving Santa Claus cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. I'm making him a Manhattan.)

Anyway, since we are all carbed-out around here, I popped my Chocolate Junk Cookies into the freezer for another day.

Costume? What costume?

Thursday, December 19, 2013


"I think Gummy Bears should be the universal symbol for peace,
because peace leads to prosperity,
prosperity leads to decadence,
and decadence leads to diabetes."

-- Jarod Kintz

Gummy bear Medusa with gummy worms hair 12-19-13

"Ooh, Gummy bears! Gummy calves' heads! Gummy jaw breakers! 
(sees a Gummy figure rotating on a red pillow in a glass case.)  

"Ooh ... What's that?"

"That is the rarest Gummy of them all, the Gummy Venus de Milo, 
carved by Gummy artisans who work exclusively in the medium of Gummy."

"Will you two stop saying 'Gummy' so much?"

-- The Simpsons
"Homer Badman," episode 112

I told you before.
The year's almost over.
I have to get them out of my system.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

You must have been a beautiful baby

"There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid."

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "There Was A Little Girl"

Medusa's baby picture 12-18-13

"Beware of her fair hair, for she excels 
All women in the magic of her locks;
And when she winds them round a young man's neck,
She will not ever set him free again."

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

OK, so I have a couple more Medusas to get out of my system before my 365 days project draws to a close. So please indulge me.

Today is Medusa's baby picture. And I know, I know, that mythologically speaking, when Medusa was a baby it was way before she had her hair turned to snakes by mean old Athena. I am fully aware that she didn't get her first slither-perm until she was all grown up.

But like I said, please indulge me.

Cuz Dude, I have been at this for 352 days now. 

If I want to pretend Medusa had snaky little hissing curls baby curls, well, then, that's what I'mma do. 

Cut me some damn slack.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Look 'em in the eye and speak from the heart

"We look at each other with shy relief.
It's the look two odd socks give 
when they recognize each other in the wild."

-- Fiona Wood, Six Impossible Things

Alien eyes in the snow 12-17-13

"Basic human contact -- the meeting of eyes,
the exchanging of words -- is to the psyche
what oxygen is to the brain.
If you're feeling abandoned by the world,
interact with anyone you can."

-- Martha Beck

Heh heh.

Alien eyes in the snow wearing little hats.

Heh heh.

Monday, December 16, 2013

I just figured out how to screen print my own t-shirts, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

"If you seek information, read words.
If you seek understanding, have experiences."

-- Cozonacci

Self portrait 12-16-13
"From the very beginning of his education, 
the child should experience the joy of discovery."

-- Alfred North Whitehead

When was the last time you got so excited about something that you literally jumped up and down, clapped your hands and squealed "I did it! I did it!" like a 4-year old?

For me, it was Saturday.

For my birthday way back in July, my son Sam gave me a screen printing kit. I asked for it, and I wanted it, but the thing has been sitting in its box since summer. I got out the instructions a couple of times, but in my then-sleep-deprived and anxiety-riddled state, I just didn't have it in me to figure the damn thing out.

But yesterday, well-rested and medicated, I finally took the plunge.

It was a process. But learning is all about the process, right? That's why it's called the learning process. Someone can tell you how to do something, but until you actually do it, you'll never truly understand it. Which meant I had to read through all of the steps in the instruction book, and then do all of the steps in the instruction book if I ever wanted to understand how to make an actual screen print. So that's what I did.

And when it worked -- when I lifted the screen and the t-shirt underneath it actually bore the exact image of the self-portrait stencil I'd made, it was like a little miracle. Leo was helping me out by holding the wooden frame down while I drew the ink squeegee across the screen. As previously stated, I jumped, clapped and squealed. We high-fived. We exclaimed "It worked!" "It worked!" My husband took a picture of the tender newborn on his iPhone and texted it to Sam, so he could see the first-fruits that came from his gift.

I made two t-shirts (one for me, one for Leo) and three posters. They all came out perfectly. Sam said he'd put a poster in his dorm room.

Now I realize there are folks out there who can do pretty sophisticated and impressive things with screen printing. And I acknowledge that my rudimentary little t-shirts and posters lurk somewhere in the far, far edges of the screen printing spectrum. But give me time. I'll get there.

Today's face isn't about the product. It's about the process. It's about expanding myself to learn something new. It's about not being afraid of the unknown, but diving (or tip-toeing) into the unknown and figuring it out. It's about choosing to grow a tiny little bit instead of shrinking back. It's about feeling that 4-year-old excitement of accomplishment -- like learning to ride a two-wheeler or tie your own shoes. Sure, a whole bunch of other people can already do it, ho hum. But this is the day I learned how to do it, and I did it all by myself!

That feeling never gets old, even if I do.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fine and dandy

"The dandy cleans his monocle every day,
a silver monocle with a lens of smoked gold,
given him by a beautiful lady but,
suddenly overcome with sadness,
he has lost the monocle case."

-- Erik Satie, 
Les Trois Valses Distingues Du PR Ciuex D Go T  
by Erik Satie for Solo Piano

Self portrait 12-15-13

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

"The problem with winter sports is that -- follow me closely here --
they generally take place in winter."

-- Dave Barry

Kids meal toy 12-14-13

"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake
I pray the Lord my toys will break.
So none of the other kids can use 'em ... Amen."

-- Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

"I love skating and sparkling
and flying around the ice,
and people clap for you.
It's an amazing feeling."

-- Johnny Weir

I went to out to lunch with my boys yesterday.

Sam is home from college and I took Leo out of school for a dentist appointment, and he was hungry afterwards, so he texted his brother and we all met at Wendy's.

When the boys were little, it wasn't uncommon for us to grab lunch at Wendy's. A couple of kid's meals for them, a salad and fries for me. I didn't have to make lunch, I didn't have to clean up, and the boys each got a toy. Good times. 

Times have changed. 

I still didn't have to make lunch or clean up, but this time, it was me who ordered the kid's meal. I just wanted the little bitty fries and the little bitty Sprite. (I gave Leo the burger to wash down his chicken sandwich.) 

Really, though, I wanted the toy. A specific toy. There were several possibilities on display -- some really good ones, and a couple of clunkers.

I was pumping ketchup into my tiny  paper ketchup cups, and one of the restaurant workers (who was on her lunch break) looked up from her food and said "Let me guess. The kid's meal is for you." I suppose she looked at the two grown men accompanying me and did the math.

Me: "Yes." 

Her: "You know you can get the same fries, drink and burger from the value menu for less."

Me: "But then you don't get a toy."

Her: "You wanted the toy? Which one?"

Me:  "The robot. Or the helicopter. Or the whistle. But I really want the robot."

Her: "What'd you get?"

I hadn't looked yet. I was saving the big reveal for when I was situated at our table. But she got my curiosity up so I looked in the bag and peeked. It wasn't the robot. Or the helicopter. Or the whistle. It was something dumb. I got one of the clunkers.

Me: (sad face) "I got this."

Her: "Give it to me. I'll take care of it."

Me: "What? Really?"

Her: "Yeah. Sure. No problem. Gimme it."

Me: (Speechless, I am suddenly 5 years old and tongue-tied at the kindness of this stranger and the random good fortune that has befallen little me.)

So I handed her my disappointment and sat down with my boys, who'd witnessed the entire exchange and were just shaking their heads and laughing. What else is new? 

A few minutes later another Wendy's worker carrying my toy upgrade walked right past us and eyeballed a little boy sitting at another table.

Her: "Kid's meal toy?"

Me, Sam and Leo: (in unison) "Right here!"

She spun around on her heel and handed me my prize. 

Me: (sharp intake of breath) "It's the robot!"

And suddenly I forgot all about my little bitty fries and my little bitty Sprite. The robot had all of my attention. I was all like "Food? What food?"

(Which led me to wonder, if the officials in San Francisco really want to fight the war on childhood obesity, they shouldn't ban Happy Meals and the toys they contain. They should encourage them. Because, as I witnessed with my own children and now with myself, once I got my hands on that toy, I lost all interest in eating my food. I wanted to assemble my robot, and stick on his stickers, and make him pretend walk and pretend talk in a pretend robot voice. The way I see it, instead of telling Fat Suzy "Eat your food and then you can play with your toy," parents should just hand Fat Suzy her goddamn toy, give her food to a hungry football player, and watch Fat Suzy's belly melt away. Just a thought, San Francisco board of supervisors, just a thought.) 

But I digress.

Remember how a few days ago I said we have a rule about hunting? The "don't kill anything unless you plan to eat it or give it someone who will" rule?

Well, I have my own rule about toys. (OK, I just made it up, but bear with me.) The rule is this: don't ask for the kid's meal unless you plan to play with the toy or give it to someone who will. Well, you can bet I wasn't about to give away my robot after that nice Wendy's worker bestowed it on me. And if I wasn't going to give it away, that meant I had to play with it.

And so I did.

I dressed him in a little winter hat and scarf, made him a little skating rink, and had a fun photo session in the backyard snow. It was cold and exhilarating and time flew and I was 5 and happy and lost in play and (ahem, heads up, San Francisco) probably burned quite a few calories.

Rewind back to lunch, which is now a pile of wreckage -- empty wrappers, boxes, bags and the lonely sound of rattling ice and slurping the dregs of soft drinks through straws.

Me: "Do you know why I wanted the robot?"

Sam and Leo: (in unison) "Because it has a face."

Friday, December 13, 2013

Carving out an identity

"Carving is easy, you just go down to the skin and stop."
-- Michelangelo

Self portrait 12-13-13

"We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others 
the image we long for, need, love or desire, 
often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment
because it does not fit them."

-- Anais Nin

The last time I carved a linoleum block to make a print, I cut the crap out of my finger.

And by "cut the crap" I mean eight stitches and almost a severed tendon.

That was June 29th. I have a scar on the inside of my left index finger to prove it, a scar that still twinges and tingles every now and then, and which hurts like a sonofabitch whenever I bump it just right ... or is it wrong?

It's taken me until now to muster the courage to carve another block. But this time I finally got smart and came up with a crazy, kooky scheme. 

I wore gloves!

I know. It's a madcap. It's extreme. But wouldn't you know? It worked.

Look Ma! No bloody slashed digits!

When I told Leo about my brilliant idea, you know, the one about the gloves, he just looked at me kind of deadpan and mumbled "What took you so long?"  (I'm pretty sure there was a "Duh" implied in there somewhere.)

Whatever. I'm back in the saddle and happy to report that no fingers were harmed in the making of today's face.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


"Inside a big cardboard box, a child is transported to a world of his or her own,
one where anything is possible."

-- "Cardboard Box," toyhalloffame.org

Self portrait 12-12-13

"The best birthday present is an empty box. 
Smile, it contains all my love for you."

-- Jarod Kintz, 
My love can only occupy one person at a time

"'I'm bored' is a useless thing to say.
I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you've seen none percent of.
Even the inside of your own mind is endless;
it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand?
The fact that you're alive is amazing, so you don't get to say 'I'm bored.'"

-- Louis C.K.

"I could party in a cardboard box with people who are funny and don't care."

-- Ke$ha

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


"She was made of fog and shadow until Kate caught her eye,
and then, all at once, she became human."

--Erin Bow, Plain Kate

Self portrait 12-11-13

"We only pass everything by
like a transposition of air."

-- Rainer Maria Rilke, Duino Elegies

"Extract the eternal from the ephemeral."

-- Charles Baudelaire

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In living color

"If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint."

-- Edward Hopper

Self portrait 12-10-13

"I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone,
because I am the person I know best."

-- Frida Kahlo

"No longer shall I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting.
I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love."

-- Edvard Munch

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hey big vendor

"A curt voice echoed in Nathaniel's head,
'Prep for impact. This is going to hurt.'"

-- Jonathan Marker, Spyder Silk

Toy duck calls in a vending machine 12-9-13

"Shoot me again! I enjoy it! I love the smell of burnt feathers,
and gunpowder, and cordite!
I'm an elk! Shoot me, go on! It's elk season!
I'm a fiddler crab! Why don't you shoot me? 
It's fiddler crab season!"
-- Daffy Duck, "Duck, Rabbit, Duck!"

Toy duck calls in a vending machine(2) 12-9-13

 "If you must mount the gallows,
give a jest to the crowd, a coin to the hangman,
and make the drop with a smile on your lips."

-- Robert Jordan

In a little twist of irony, I was hunting these duck faces while my husband and son were hunting real ducks.

I got two, they got four.

They like to hunt, and I'm OK with it. It's their thing, which is cool. And I don't usually mind if they bring home pheasant or goose or turkey or rabbit, but the ducks made me a little sad. Usually they field dress whatever they shoot, but it had grown too dark to see, so they brought the ducks home to butcher in the garage.

It was a little surreal seeing up close the four mallards they'd shot, three males and a female. They were still beautiful and glossy and colorful and perfect, except for the blood running out of the places where the steel shot had peppered them. 

I had mixed emotions.

I was happy for the guys because it was their first successful duck hunt and they were totally stoked.
I took the requisite photos of them, father and son smiling, all manly and proud in their camouflage, holding up their quarry, which hung limp and lifeless from floppy necks, and thinking "This is the kid I read Make Way for Ducklings to at least a million times when he was little?"

Who woulda thunk?

I gave them each one of the little plastic duck calls that I'd photographed in the drug store vending machine, as a prize, to show these hunter/gatherers that the female of the tribe acknowledged their victory.

The duck meat is now in my basement freezer. I will eventually cook it for the guys, just as I cook all the other wild game they bag and bring home. They'll eat it, because one of our rules is you can't shoot it unless you plan to eat it, or can find someone else who will (they stockpile skinned squirrels that look like little frozen fetuses, for a grateful lady named Edna, who grew up in the deep south and says things like "sho nuff.") 

I'll probably stick with vegetables.

Like Walter Cronkite said, "The perils of duck hunting are great -- especially for the duck."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lemme lemme lemme upgrade you

"When a woman teams up with a snake 
a real moral storm threatens somewhere."

-- Stacey Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life

Medusa mask 12-8-13

"Then Bernice winced as Marjorie tossed her own hair
over her shoulders and began to twist it slowly into two
long blond braids until in her cream-colored negligee she
looked like a delicate painting of some Saxon princess.
Fascinated, Bernice watched the braids grow.
Heavy and luxurious they were, moving under the supple fingers 
like restive snakes."

-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Bernice Bobs Her Hair"

Medusa mask (2) 12-8-13

"You have to snake the drain when my hair gets clogged."

-- Beth Murphy, He's Just Not That Into You

I made another Medusa!

This brings me to a grand total of eight Medusa faces so far.

I've used my own face, Barbie, my hand, plaster, paper mache, face paint, wooden snakes, rubber snakes, plastic snakes, a Pin Art toy and dreidel dreidel dreidel I made one out of clay.
(Just type "Medusa" in the search bar if you want to see them all.)

This time I re-purposed a terrible 99 cent plaster mask that I found at the thrift store. Someone had hand-painted it really, really badly with music notes and "New Orleans" and "Jazz." They tried to paint the lips and eyes, but was pretty stinking awful. It had a grubby pink ribbon on it, too.

But I saw potential in this sad little castoff and plopped down my 99 cents and brought her home for an upgrade.

I still have a whole bunch of bargain basement Halloween-closeout-plastic-glow-in-the-dark snakes from Target -- just like the ones I used for the Senor Wences Medusa face (which you can view by clicking here: Senor Wences Medusa)

I glued the snakes to the mask, then painted the whole thing in with a dark brown hammered-finish metallic spray paint, then hit it with a little matte spray to take down the shine, and finally, dry-brushed it with gold acrylic paint. Even though it's made of plaster and plastic, I think the metallic look is pretty convincing.

The mask is about a third the size of a wearable mask, so this one will have to live as wall art, which, I hope, is a more satisfying existence for her that laying forgotten on a dusty shelf at Goodwill. I left her 99 cents sticker on the back, though, so she doesn't forget where she came from.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


"You know, I've had my ups and downs."

-- Brett Favre

Self portrait 12-7-13

"I tried to throw a yo-yo away. It was impossible."

-- Mitch Hedberg

"You know what my problem is? I am not interesting.
What am I supposed to say? I went to magic camp?
That I'm an accomplished ventriloquist?
Oh, I am the Seventh Degree Imperial Yo-Yo Master.
'Ooh, do me, Yo-Yo Master,
I want you to do me cause you're the yo-yo guy!"

-- Andy Stitzer, The 40 Year Old Virgin

After two months at sea, the pilgrims were running out of food and water. Yes, Nelson?
Did they have any yo-yos?
No, they did not have yo-yos. When they landed at Plymouth Rock, 
they were greeted by the friendly Indians.
Did the Indians have yo-yos?
No they did not have yo-yos! That's it! I am sick and tired of talking about yo-yos. 
From now on I won't accept any book report, science project, dioramas, or anything else 
on yo-yos, or yo-yo related topics. Am I making myself clear?

--The Simpsons

Friday, December 6, 2013


"Be good to yourself when, nobody else will
Oh be good to yourself."

-- Journey, "Be Good to Yourself"

Self portrait 12-6-13

"Awareness is learning to keep yourself company.
And then learn to be more compassionate company,
as if you were somebody you are fond of and wish to encourage."

-- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

"I see you the way you may never see you
caught inside the lies told to you
You're beautiful you know
It would mean so much to me
if what I felt was something you could see."

-- Meryn Cadell, "Beautiful"

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Life is like a box of faces

"'When I die,' I said to my friend, 'I'm not going to be embalmed.
I'm going to be dipped.'
Milk chocolate or bittersweet was the immediate concern."

-- Adrianne Marcus

Self portrait 12-5-13

"What you see before you, my friend,
is the result of a lifetime of chocolate."

-- Katharine Hepburn

"Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that,
as far as chocolate is concerned,
there is no need to involve your brain."

-- Dave Barry

Today is my 21st wedding anniversary.

Happy Anniversary, D Ray!

I decided to buck tradition and skip the typical brass/nickel gift and go with chocolate instead.

Unlike my husband, who is consistent, rock solid and super dependable, I tend to be a little ... unpredictable.

I'm pretty sure he'd agree that being married to me for 21 years really is like a box of chocolates.

Hell, most days even I don't know what I'm gonna get.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Through a glass darkly

"Nature gives you the face you possess at twenty ...
Life the face you possess at thirty.
But the face you have at fifty is the face you deserve."

-- Karleen Koen, Through A Glass Darkly

Self portrait 12-4-13

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mr. Potato Face

"You can glorify God by peeling a potato if you peel it to perfection."

-- Rev. J.D. Liddell, Chariots of Fire

Potato face with peppercorn eyes 12-3-13

"Everything is more glamorous when you do it in bed, anyway.
Even peeling potatoes."

-- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: 
From A to B and Back Again

"Depression is like peeling a potato with another potato.
It just doesn't work out.
And people don't get it, 
so they say: 'Why don't you just use a peeler?' 
and hand you another potato.
No one gets it."

-- Unknown

You say tomato, and I say tomahto.

You say potato, and I say how about giving it a little potato peel mustache and a chin dimple?

After Thanksgiving I didn't think I could face another potato.

Evidently I could.