Wednesday, December 28, 2005

More News on Chocolate

A bit of dark chocolate may do more than just tickle your taste buds.

Eating about 3 1/2 ounces of dark chocolate helped relax people's blood vessels in a recent study, which could help protect cardiovascular health. So go ahead and indulge, but don't overdo it; dark chocolate is still high in calories and fat.
-RealAge Tip

Andrew and I definitely indulged in some special chocolate in our stockings this year.

From Chocolove we found

  • Rich Dark (65%)
  • Strong Dark (70%), and
  • Extra Strong Dark (65%)

From Vosges we found
  • Red Fire Bar (65%), and
  • Oaxaca Bar (75%)

You know what would be exceedingly fun?
A Yoga + Chocolate Retreat in Oaxaca, Mexico!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Festivus, Everyone!

A declared holiday for the rest of us announced by Frank Costanza on Seinfeld. Festivus can be celebrated any day, but December 23 is the preferred day.

Festivus Pole
The tradition begins with a bare aluminum pole, which Frank praises for its "very high strength-to-weight ratio." During Festivus, an unadorned aluminum pole is displayed, apparently in opposition to the commercialization of highly decorated Christmas trees, and because the holiday's creator, Frank Costanza, "find[s] tinsel distracting." Local customs vary and you may be able to decorate your pole with non-threatening plain decorations, or ordinary green garland

The Airing of Grievances
At the Festivus dinner, each participant tells friends and family all of the instances where they disappointed him or her that year.

The Feats of Strength

The head of the family tests his or her strength against one participant of the head's choosing. Festivus is not considered over until the head of the family has been pinned to the ground. A participant is allowed to decline to attempt to pin the head of the family only if they have something better to do instead.

Festivus Poles on Sale | History & Celebrating Festivus

Thursday, December 22, 2005

If You Claim to be an Artist, Start Thinking Like One

Recently, a fellow artisan came to me upset. She conveyed that a close colleague of hers had repurposed her work. Unfortunately, this wasn't the only time this appalling act had happened to Sue by this thief, and this thief had committed this unethical act to other unwitting artists.

Have you ever heard an artist, whether in theater or fine arts state, "One day I'm afraid that someone will wake up and discover that I am a fraud?" Well, I've got news for Miss Unprincipled, it's time to wake up and smell the code -of conduct.

It's a shame that people in many walks of life make a decision to become lazy. Laziness is a choice. Sure, plagiarism saves time, but it doesn't save face. Imagine the deepest rewards one can gain by playing with materials or words, then soon discover that it becomes a product -a real product of your own play process. Only you can claim it.

If anyone needs wants a glimpse into the thought process of an artist, Milton Glaser profoundly states:

“Drawing is not about representation but about thinking. Trying to understand what you're looking at ... The brain sends a signal to the hand and the hand sends one back and there is an endless conversation between them.”
There ain't no shortcuts in creative thinking. Production is a result, a by-product of thought -and that's something to put your name on.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

2005 Final Show: Carroboro, NC

Well, my portion of the show installation is complete and awaits hungry art collectors for Christmas. Oh, and I'm introducing birds!

Fur & Feathers
Carrboro Arts Center
December 15, 2005 - January 31, 2006

You can find more of my work on these sites:
ECStewart Collections

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wizards of Winter

Last week, in the midst of the harried winter blues, my husband sent me this link. It's fabulous -guaranteed to put anyone in a good mood.

Evidently, the origination of this file is from an engineer in Mason, Ohio. I hope he gets his due credit since I cannot seem to find his name. Please send me his name if you know it.

Art Show #2, 1 to go

I'm exhausted, painfully exhausted, but relieved that it didn't rain Sunday as promised during the Boylan Heights Art Walk. The first hour I could forecast that foot traffic wasn't going to be as good as the previous year; I'm going to blame that on the administration -they're easy targets.

Here's the meager kiosk my husband built for me 2 years ago that has serviced us well. It's evolved, but like anything, we forgot the camera for documentation as well as the sacks for purchases.

You can learn more about our recent revealations and specials on my CalligraphyPets site.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mickey Sighting

While pouring coffee this morning, I stepped away from the counter with my cup and behold!

Granted he's upside down, but I'm convinced!

Update: My friend Jim sent me a link to another Mickey Siting. Hilarious!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

But you can sleep at night.

I found it! I was looking for an address to send my 4 Humors of Political Horror to Jon Stewart & the Daily Show team and accidentally came across his guest appearance on Crossfire.

If you never saw the clip, it's here:
I love it. Absolutely love it.

BTW, I can't seem to find the address (snail or email) to the Daily Show. Does anyone have it or a better way than the front door thru Comedy Central?


Sunday, October 30, 2005

4 Humors of Political Horror

A friend of Andrew's turned 40 this week and was holding a party tonight for the auspicious event. Within her list of rules, we were not to bring gifts. However, if we wanted to bring something ghoulish to eat or perhaps, dress up for the occassion, we were welcomed. I was too tired to dress, even after Andrew and I decided we needed to bring something wicked for her.

It was 3:30 in the afternoon when he realized we needed to bring a dish to pass. Yeah, right, like that's going to happen now. He then brought up the option of a bottle of wine -well, at least we'd enjoy it. Additionally, it was Halloween and it was a milestone birthday for her, so why not make it a bit frightening -afterall, we do have fodder.

After 15 minutes of doing a little brainstorming in our alchemical lab and charging our talisman, we derived this gift of a bottle of wine with a label that reads:

4 Humors of Horror

Whole Label (click to enlarge):

click to enlarge

Well, originally, we know that the theory of the 4 humors were the origin of medical science, and later, they were linked to personality temperaments, becoming the basis of psychology. For centuries, the life's juices were:

  • Red blood that flushed a person rosy, feverish, & sweaty
  • Yellow bile that jaundiced flesh a carrot orange
  • White mucus that originated in the nose and lungs
  • Black formed deep within the body and indicated rotting organs
What are the 4 Humors of Polical Horror?
  • Red Represents the Red States
  • Yellow Represents Republican Cowards
  • White Repesents the Official Color
  • Black Represents the color of Republican Souls
Oral Traditions written by Andrew:
The Four Humors of Political Horror haunt the land every few millennia, stealing elections and bringing forced war and fiscal ruin wherever they rule. When attacked they respond by freezing while reading "My Pet Goat" and define an axis of evil to be their enemies (including those who "tried to kill their daddy"). In response they send inadequate forces of unprotected peasants to an insignificant land. Once in power they handsomely reward their friends with huge tax breaks and medals of freedom, defend their actions through lies and deceit and pay for it all by flaying the souls of the less fortunate (taking away their food stamps and healthcare, leaving children behind and making it almost impossible to recover from personal financial disaster).

Libby, Delay, Abramoff and Safavian - Indictments be damned for martyrdom is the price they must pay for blindingly supporting the Four Humors of Political Horror. - Hey guys, you're on your own!

Our friend Diana (& friends) was impressed and I was delighted as to how well it turned out. Then again, I am a sucker for aged parchment paper.

Would you buy this wine for yourself? How about for your friends?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Weird & Wacky Londoners: British Invention Show

The Invention show sounds like great fun, but not at my expense. A few of the items revealed this weekend in London were:

  • The Egg (offers a full body massage + aroma therapy, music)
  • A coolbag that behaves like a fridge
  • A rubber hat that keeps cut cucumbers fresh
  • A new take on umbrellas.
  • The wackiest: A SidewaysBike
However, one invention that exuded much discussion was 'The Patch.' Excreeting dopamines to recharge a woman's libido is at a cost: it blocks cravings for chocolate.

I can tell you right now that this chick will not allow anyone to reduce sex and chocolate to a mere coke vs pepsi debate.

Obviously a man invented this little device; he's still pissed that Adam took the penis while Eve took the multi-o's from the grab bag.

An icy-cold beer chaser to the shot of whiskey

Okay, so I drink neither. However, I do drink in The Daily Show and now the new spinoff, The Colbert Report. I'm floored at how much material these guys can spin in 20 minutes, but then again, real newscasts and political speeches will keep them forever foddered.

Perhaps that's not a real word, but I'm guessing it's French, bitch.

Read the NYT article:

Sunday, October 23, 2005

NYC: Quiet Observations

As we rested on a bench drinking Porto Rico coffee, we spied these gents hanging infront of ironic signage.

NYC: Eats

Our favorite pasttime in NYC is the food. Man, do we love to eat so we'd like to share some of our favorite haunts with you.

Penang, SOHO - Malaysian Cuisine
Beverage: Beer
Appetiser: Roti (curry potato & chicken)
My main: Buah Mango (Shrimp or Chicken)
Andrew's main: Rice dish with Scallops, Shrimp, & Squid
Dessert: Malaysian Coffee (the secret is condensed milk on the bottom, then coffee)

Oh yum!!


Warm, creamy, succulent.


Savory, sweet and tart, with a pepper after-taste.

Butterfly Grill, Greenwich Village - Vietnamese Cuisine
Appetiser: Shrimp Summer Roll
My main: Grilled Chicken (stir fried w/lemon grass & chilly)
Andrew's main: Tamarind Shrimp (jumbo cooked in wok w/tamarind sauce)
Beverage: Organic Tea

Very savory.

Focacceria, Greenwich Village - Italian Cuisine
When you're in the mood for excellent red sauce, this place has it. Stay for the dessert -you won't be disappointed.
Appetiser: Mozzarella in Carrozza (we splurged)
My main: Chicken Ravioli (divine)
Andrew's main: Homemade Lasagna
Beverage: Merlot
Dessert: Warm Chocolate cake w/homemade ice cream (a different time)

Get there between the rush and you get great service. The food just melts in your mouth.

Unparenting: The sign of the times

Andrew & I found one hiliarious book this week in NYC: Baby Not On Board A Celebration of Life without Kids.

I knew when I was younger, about the age of a zygote, I definitely did not want children. I tried to fit in with the other girls at school who had already plans for the number of children they wanted as well as names -all without the help of their yet-to-be-snagged husband. All of this pre-planning just gave me the heebie jeebies.

My mantra has always been, "If I want to hear the patter of little feet, I'll put shoes on my cats." Actually, I have put clothes on them, just check out 3WiseCats.

Fortunately, most of my friends believe my steadfast stance but are visibly disappointed. "Oh, you must have at least one!" I've been sent guilt trips via overnight mail and announcements have been made on the 6 o'clock news about how selfish I am or how completely unreasonable I'm being. Some have tried to trick this ol girl by stating, "It seems that those who are completely well-adjusted don't want kids and those that aren't, do!"

Sorry! 'Won't be fooled again!

As a stepparent (~3 years) I didn't find the role all that rewarding or tantalizing. Moreover, we're confident that we won't be saddled with the 24/7 fear as parents.

Meanwhile, my latest concern is how to throw an unbaby shower. If you're wondering what color balloons to attach to the mailbox, it's not the color of the balloons that matter, but that they should be deflated to symbolize an empty womb.

Recently, my MIL has worn this shirt w/pride, "Let me get this straight, my grandchild is a cat." We topped that by getting a collage frame from Target that had lasered text reading, "Grandchildren make us proud."

Oh, and you know we filled it with our pussycats.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Creative Strategy: Mindmapping

Teaching old dogs new tricks is actually easier done than said -spoonerism not intended.

Using mind mapping techniques are used to effectively organize large amounts of information, combining spatial organization & dynamic hierarchical structuring. This technique allows a person to retain information and ideas than by using traditional 'linear' note taking methods. If you have several projects that you'd like to accomplish, mindmapping can be a source of creative freeflow thought that will enable you to generate ideas in a flash. Thus, one doesn't risk being stymied by the notebook ruled paper. Ack!

Some literature makes claims that it allows greater motivation to complete a task, allows one to tap the deeper levels of consciousness by using mind map techniques and these may include developing intuitive powers, combat bullying, create global harmony to working out a business plan. Mindmaps can be drawn by hand, either as 'rough notes', for example, during a lecture or meeting, or can be more sophisticated in quality.

For example, locate a large piece of paper or your wall, draw a circle in the center with the name of your theme in the center of that circle -we'll call this a lake. Begin to build on that theme with bubbles (ponds) with thoughts, ideas, and sketches that flow like tributaries to puddles.

Basic Simple Structure

Adopted Structure

I learned of this technique several years ago via Michel Gelb's Mind Mapping: How to Liberate Your Creative Genius.

Additional tools to aid your mindmapping quest:
  • FreeMind Cool Productivity Tool
  • Post-It Notes: They allow you to reposition in accordance to importance
The trick is to keep the mind fresh, free from restrictive measures. Waffling your time with fancy tools only hinders and creates a crutch out of them whilst a pocket full of index cards will do.

Creative Authenticity

Hugh MacLeod's work was one of my first posts initiating my new position within new-laden land of the blog-o-sphere.

Well, I've recently discovered his manifesto on How To Be Creative. The value of authenticity and hard work are often shoved in the closet for a shortcut and it's heartbreaking to see this happen to fellow human beings. This manifesto is a definite read for those who:

  • Find themselves bitching around the watercooler (stop hanging w/crowds)
  • Have relinquished their creative sovereignty (be true to yourself)
  • Believe they will suddenly be discovered (your plan is already doomed)
  • Don't understand the balance of the 'sex & cash' theory (don't quit your day job)
  • Refuse to acknowledge the existence of their private Mt Everest (everyone has one)
  • Use fancy props as a crutch (needing state-of-the-art _(fill in blank)_ to accomplish x)
  • Adopted another's business plan as their own (our paths are not the same)
  • Compare themselves to others (practice = authenticity)
  • Insist drugs & booze make better artists (never a happy ending)
  • Underestimate competition & overestimate personal chances (hardwork = reward)
  • Are married to the medium for the wrong reasons (payments to Satan aren't cheap)
  • Seek inspiration in a vacuum (the creative block needs fuel)
and need help in understanding the challenges and rewards of being creative.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Of Course, Global Warming is a Myth!

For this Halloween, Horseback Salad has created a flash video based on the perennial Halloween hit favorite "Monster Mash" called "The Climate Mash."


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

After the pedicures....

We head to Tuesday Morning so that honey can realign his manliness by collecting Maistro diecast racing cars for his office.

Tonight, we squeeled when we found, I kid you not, an Art Director Ken Doll. Truly hilarious.

Our monthly dates

Andrew and I took some time out late this afternoon to get our toes done.

Yes folks, pedicures.

I love that Andrew comes with me since the disk between L4 & L5 vertebrae is completely AWOL, his toes have needs that I could remedy. But why should I when we can both enjoy a couples pedi together? Queasy at first and now a convert after his first experience, we have monthly dates for toes.

Once, I arrived alone and the manicurists were curious and disappointed with my solo adventure. Many women customers comment about how jealous they are that their husbands won't partake in the hedonist adventure.

One day, I will take the men out who participate on my advisory board and force them to enjoy a footbath & pedicure; they will never be the same.

Inking my fingers to the bone

Occassionally, I take a hiatus from certain activity then come out with a blustery storm of news.

When I focus, as introverts often do, I bury myself quite deep until I get one project complete. In this case, it's been a deluge of contacting those manufacturers for licensing. Last week, I got a nibble and hence, had to pull together almost 75 images for review. Realizing I had only a few images of one series that wasn't quite up to par, I pulled an all-nighter to get (sketch, ink, scan, & upload to layout) the images I wanted to complete the series.

A day later, I earned the well-deserved headcold as a reward. Where's my MIL's chicken soup when we need it? Bleck. I feel like crap.

The overnight package was delivered as promised. Now, I sit and wait. Actively wait. But first, take it easy for the next couple of days to let my body catch up.

Halloween Swap

I am getting psyched about Halloween. My alter-ego, Phaedrus de la Felidae Isle is hosting our first stamp swap: Halloween!!

Bonkers for Burton

I love Gorey and I love Tim Burton. I cannot wait to see the Corpse Bride and I believe that Johnny Depp (ohhhh what a heart throb) and Helena Bonham Carter make a GREAT cinema couple.

Please don't tell me how it ends!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Halloween Vote

My question to y'all... Since I'm the creator of CalligraphyPets and have expanded my calligraphic line art under ECStewart Collections, would you be interested in:

  • Halloween Greeting Cards that include Cats, Bats, Pumpkins & Witches
  • Postcards of all
  • Postcards & Stamps
  • Virtual Postcards
  • Other _____________
Tell me your vote as this is the first time I am personally deviating from my actually CalligraphyPets line into my absolute favorite holiday.

Vote now!

Gorey Details

I don't know how I happened upon the Gorey site tonight, but I do know it's been a while since I've been able to actually indulge in personal adornments. Tonight, I am finally purchasing the silver sterling cat skating pin. I am completely thrilllllllllllllllllled.

Update: I got it! Isn't he a beauty?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Whoopsie Gras

I couldn't allow this maddness to pass without comment. However, I believe Mark Fiore did a better job than I could ever do.

It's frightening.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Top Gear: A Nun's Vocation Vacation

Andrew dragged me downstairs to watch a clip from Top Gear last week -and I'm glad he did. Top Gear is an original BBC program that test drives the best and worst vehicles known to man and covers other interesting bits about the industry. With Jeremy Clarkson and his british humour, it's definitely an enjoyable hour; one doesn't waste a perfectly good hour listening. Ah, but we love CarGuys, don't we?

The two funniest back-to-back clips revealed that a Nun could pull her weight in by crawling over several cars in a monster truck!! Second, Jeremy taught a few elderly women how to drive donuts on dry pavement.

Sept 2006 Update: See the Grannies Doing Donuts

I desperately looked for video clips on their site, alas, you'll have to wait for the repeats on Discovery.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Wedding Anniversary

Being married for 730 days now and 15 hours, it seems like only 2 weeks. When you've found the right partner, the world could just melt away. Commulatively, we've been together for over 4 years, thanks to

Since, I have contacted the pastry chef, Jennifer, at the NCMuseum of Art to bake us an anniversary cake each year. Because the cake we had for the wedding was so fantastically delish, I decided to make it tradition to enjoy it every year -and this year wasn't different.

Informing Jennifer that we would be requiring this cake every year, I gave her my business card to ensure that we would never lose contact.

Our cake this year:

First Anniversary Cake:

Our wedding cake:

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I love George Seurat. I absolutely adore his Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte; I always called it 'Sunday Picnic' for short.

Just recently, I have found Yewtopia. Actually, George Seurat gone 3D -in Columbus, Ohio.

If you enjoy taking virtual trips, you'll like this one.

You're Not the Boss of Me!

There are folks who really don't like Hillary Rodham-Clinton, but I do. Hillary's a strong individual with conviction.

There are many who like Laura Bush as, "...she's got morals -and values." Frankly, I don't care for her. However, she recently tried urging her husband to name a woman or minority to replace Sandra Day O'Connor; he wouldn't listen.

W's morals are based back in the 18th century and probably still views his wife as property. Hence, his decision to nominate John Robert to the Supreme Court.

I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.

Mad as Hell

I wrote a flaming email to ABCNews on July 11. I was mortified by their incredulous act of negligence and flagrant use of hypocrisy between their articles on the video game 'Grand Theft Auto' article and the running of the bulls in Spain. After I wrote it, I realized I had to write the same damn letter to ET (Entertainment Tonight) as they were airing the same horrific footage.

After the news reporting on 9/11 regarding those poor souls who tossed their lives into the hands of the asphalt pavement, one would have thought that news reporting would have been a little more "meaningful."

I think there's a lesson about learning history and repeating it.


I made the mistake of watching your news program tonight.

You reviewed the article about the video game 'Grand Theft Auto' regarding the violence and now open-source coding for adding pornography to one's personal software. The violence was removed and the naked animated people were pixelated so that we don't see 'graphic content.'


Now, the very next scene is the running of the bulls. You don't tell us "Oh by the way, there is graphic content in this story, so sensitive viewers may want to avert their eyes." NOOOOO. You begin with, "There was blood shed in today's 4th day during the running of the bulls as written by Hemingway in Rising Sun..." you cut to a bull goring a guy, raising him in the air with his horn shifted right thru him -and he wasn't the only one shown.

I didn't need to see this, I don't like seeing images like this. I really didn't and it suddenly made me EXTREMELY angry.

You don't juxtapose the pixelated animated human figure and then show me some guy getting brutally impaled. I'm tired of the hypocrisy -damn tired.

As I said, I made the mistake of watching your news program tonight and I certainly won't make that mistake again. I'll be relying on the fake cable news, The Daily Show, as if you had to be reminded and the BBC for my news reporting.
God I was mad.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I am Nietzsche

I scored as Friedrich Nietzsche. I am Friedrich Nietzsche. I am a sweet philosopher who belived that humans are caught up in "herds" and need to break free and be individuals. Also, there are no standards to judge against, because "God is dead." I also probably suffer from a mental illness, probably due to some form of an untreated STD, and will most likely suffer a mental collapse.

Friedrich Nietzsche


Martin Heidegger


Soren Kierkegaard


Jean-Paul Sartre


Albert Camus


Not An Existentialist


I feel like I've just read a Brezsny's Free Will Astrology.
Which Existentialist Philosopher Are You?
created with

Friday, July 15, 2005

Inuit Legend Barbie

So, to my surprise, I discover that Mattel has release the Inuit Legend Barbie. I wonder if she comes with her own inukshuk?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Naughty Chocolate Pudding Cups

Okay, so we've been doing our best to stay away from that big cheesecake house down the street. It's tough, admittedly, especially with their chocolate mousse double layer cake. Oh yum!

Since we've been really trimming down our excesses, even though we eat pretty darn well (fish + veggies), we really do love chocolate. We made a rich and tasty substitute with very little fat, albeit a few calories: Naughty Chocolate Pudding Cups.

One large Jell-O Brand Sugar Free-Fat Free Chocolate Pudding Mix (2.1oz)
Follow directions
Where it says to use 3 cups cold fat free milk, use 2.5 cups milk and .5 cup of Sambrosa Coffee Liquer.
Mix and pour into 4 small ramikins or small coffee cups
Let sit for 24 hours (directions say 5 min, but we found it becomes dense & rich)


Kahlua vs Sambrosa
We did use Kahlua, but Andrew decided one night to use more and it became bitter. The sambrosa was a happy accident and when he used more, it remained very smooth and rich.

We've also used Mint Schnapps, but too much can be overwhelming, too. We cut that back to only a couple of tablespoons rather than a full .5 cup.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Illustration Friday: Metropolitan

I feel like I'm cheating here since I didn't really sketch it, but modify it with Photoshop. I promise I won't take the easy way out, but this was the hurried effect since I really should be downstairs painting my husband's new office.

BTW, I will be moving my illustration friday & photo friday assignments to Lisa's Atelier. This space will continue to rant, rave, and highlight special events.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Take Two Viking Kittens and Call Me In the Morning

Ye-haw! I finally found it. A few years ago this crazy Brit, Joel Veitch decided to put kittens and Led Zepplin together and create one of the world's most hilarious animation. He's got more, but this by far is my most favorite.

For a bellyache: Viking Kittens
My second fav: Northern

Why is it on my site? Well, after the world linked to the Viking Kittens playing out the hammer of the Gods, the ISP couldn't handle the load. A couple years elapse and suddenly everyone has this flash animation ready for download for those who want it. I wouldn't normally do this, but Joel's got full copyright credit and this does nothing but promote his work.

To see more kittens stomping thru Europe, visit Joel's site

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Church for the Masses

Abston Church of Christ

Time spent better than watching TV? Well, this undertaking took well over a year & a half to plan and construct; it's too bad she doesn't get some kind of commission or donations for her kitty fund.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Maxims for the Self

I've learned a number of things in my mere first 40 years of life and wish there were more than 40 remaining. Weaving through-out my life, I've created maxims for the self.

Maxim 1 Never to make rules for oneself; they only limit your experience as a human being. You never looked good as a curmudgeon anyway.

Maxim 2 Don't become an arm-chair theorist; get out there and do something about that very thing that makes you mad. No one likes a whiner.

Maxim 3 The word "No" is a full sentence.

Maxim 4 Travel. This will make you appreciate what your home has to offer and it will also expand your life beyond your own shortsightedness. If you decide your homelife isn't meeting your expectations upon your return, then change it.

Maxim 5 Find Your Passion. If you don't know what that is, read. Reading a variety of materials and experiencing life will help you begin to develop your personal philosophy.

Maxim 6 Enjoy Risk; don't fear it. Expedite your time awfulizing about how bad things could get by asking yourself, "Could one die from this little adventure?" If the answer is no, do it!

Once in awhile I'll assess my life and count how many risks I've taken in any given time. If my life is feeling stale, I look at an area that needs to be shaken a little and give it a good throttling!

I've made great strides in the last 10 years (specially the last 5) and I certainly wouldn't change any of it. I'm definitely looking forward to the next 10 and hope to double my experiences with aplomb!

Turning 40

I've decided to do something different on this milestone occasion: celebrate my birthday with my beloved and only him. The entire weekend was a wonderful and quiet reflection without the unnecessary noise of chaos to measure my perceive popularity.

Meanwhile, I adore Chez Hayden. I requested Andrew's famous rosemary babyback ribs, fresh sweet corn to be accompanied by Joseph Phelps Vintage 1988 Merlot.

Wow! You want lip smacking goodness, Joseph Phelps never disappoints.

For dessert, my personal culinary alchemist made for me molten lava chocolate mini-cakes baked in individual ramikins. I promise to yank the recipe from his private book soon for you to enjoy.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Extinction of Big Bird: Saving NPR & PBS

I am sick to death of watching crap like OJ travel for hours in CA inside his cozy vehicle claiming not to be the killer of his ex or Michael Jackson 'getting off' the fact that he sleeps with young boys ad nauseam.

Through continued corruption, the House is threatening to eliminate all public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street" to "Rick Steve's Travels Through the Back Door." I love these shows because they're not telling me how to succumb to ridiculous peer pressure, but instead remain the free-thinking individual that I am.

Through, I've been able to tell my reps that we need publicly-funded media that will inform the public, ask hard questions, and focus on stories that affect real people.

Fortunately, has reached their 400,000 signatures and now they're pushing for 500,00.

Will yours be one of them? I know mine is!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Velvet Scents of Her

Sweet velvet scents eminated from the corner of our au natural yard. Finally, after all of the uprooting of choking english ivy, we saved most of the two huge gardenia plants reaching at great angles toward the sun.

I found several blossoms in full bloom when I decided to take 'Nay Nay outside to visit the big blue room. Two fireflies danced among the camilla bushes, giving me reason to pause and enjoy summer's night air.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Perfect Timing

While talking with Angelique, I asked her a barrage of questions about my flowers and overnight package. She simply didn't know. It seemed selfish, but I needed to know that Mrs Yalda knew she was in my thoughts and waking memories.

I decided to call the attending nurse at Riverbend. She didn't know about the flowers, so she put me on hold. As I waited, eventually, the call got dropped.

Pushing redial, I decided to talk with the receptionist at the desk because they sign for everything, including my flowers and package. The receptionist pushed my call to the 'activities' center. Mia picked up my call and assured me that she received the packaged, opened it and read everything inside. She asked me about the calligraphy, she talked about the Christmas card and the Valentines Card. She said she read the letter to her. As she opened the contents and showed them to her, Mrs Yalda acknowledged everything she saw. As Mia told me this, my eyes began to well and I began to lose composure. She told me everything I needed to hear and I thanked her for all that she did.

I'm taking a giant leap here, but I'm thinking that my sense of urgency and the sway between having the package arrive before 10:30 or in the afternoon was insightful. Moreover, I think that Mrs Yalda was waiting to hear from me before she said goodbye to the world. I'm thinking for one small brief moment, me and my art mattered.

Deadline Duo

This morning I awoke with red, puffy eyes -as though I had been crying heavily. Andrew and I had a fine evening last night as there really wasn't any overt emotional crisis -unless you count my concern for Her.

It was about 1:40 this afternoon when I decided to shower. I was at a stopping point and I was getting hungry. Thoughts of her began to swarm, so I acquiest to grabbing a protein bar from the pantry; I couldn't manage anything else.

God, I hoped someone had read my letter to Her and showed her the greeting cards I had made for her.

You know when people talk about loved ones appearing as they die? It never happened for me. But one thing that kept resonating the last 24 hours and that was to get the overnight package to her with the letter because I knew that timing issues would not allow Him to read the same note I attached to his email.

Thank God for UPS.

With a half-eaten protein bar, I turned on the water for the shower. As I showered, I thought of the ways people are told about death. I imagined feeling her leave the Earth and being cognizant of her departure. I imagined her ghostly stance among the crowd at the SURTEX booth with pride and enveloping warmth. I imagined receiving a call an hour later acknowledging her death. I imagined having to reveal this to Andrew as we stood among buyers in our booth. I imagined an overwhelming scent of roses in the booth.

1 An hour after my shower, Angelique called. Mrs. Yalda passed away.
2 One day when Andrew ran an errand during our stint at Surtex, he returned with a bag full of goodies. An overwhelming scent of roses filled the air as he claimed that the Chinese women forced him to take these scented soaps as a freebie for his purchase.
3 My lucid dreaming kept taking me to the lower level (main hub of Surtex) of the Javit's Center, not upstairs where my rented space was in the sunshine. This week, I got a call to move my booth to the main hub of Surtex -we took it.


I awoke with the anticipation of tracking the UPS package and the flowers. They indeed arrive at 10:10 and 10:48 respectively. Deep sigh of relief. Now, I still hoped that someone at the home at the sense of urgency to open the package and reveal the contents. Further, I wanted 'the letter' read to her.

He had responded to my email I wrote last night. He was surpised that the staff was as tight lipped as they were. Surprise, surprise. I wrote him back asking him not to turn her case into another Terri Schiavo. After her issues with diabetes, being overweight, her heart attacks, the death of her dog and her husband last year, and the fact that she conceded to give her house to the kids, she had finished her work. I had asked him to be aware of that because she had no more concerns with life in general.

I continued to work feveriously on my illustrations as I was so far behind on the series and SURTEX is only next week. I still have yet to stylize them, put them into layout compositions for each page and create suggested prototypes for them. I managed to finish inking the gardening, topiaries, and patio for scanning.

The Calling of My Name

For the past several days after hearing she had been moved to an assisted care facility, I wanted to call. I didn't have the number but that was no excuse, Google works for every person. Perhaps I didn't want to hear the worst.

I called Riverbend to learn that I was not on the 'need to know' basis as I had requested long ago. I told the attending nurse that I wanted to know of her condition but she was bound by law not to divulge. Am I family? How does one define family? If anyone knew me, they would know that family is not only defined by blood, but also by choice.

Earlier yesterday, I was still snoozing as I often do for about an hour after Andrew rises each morning. I am also up later than he and require more sleep. He shuffles out of the bedroom, preventing the cats from racing in to pounce on me and routinely annoy me by scratching at my head buried under the sheets. I could hear some add'l activity but the sheets muffled my ears so my brain couldn't decipher the noise.

Clearly I heard my name. The calling of my name was crystal clear but I couldn't remember by what name I was called. Andrew and I have nicknames for each other (Punkin and Muffin thanks to Pulp Fiction) and I've grown up with several nicknames as a kid. My brain heard all of them simulatenously and clear as a bell. I still couldn't tell if the voice(s) I heard calling me was male or female, but I assumed it was Andrew. The summond sounded intense, hurried, and desperate.

I called out to respond, but no answer.

Minutes later, when I finally slipped out of bed, I found Andrew standing near the sink pouring me a cup of coffee. I asked him why he called me but he insisted he did not.

Later in the day, when I returned from the post office dropping off 120 pieces for my SURTEX mailing, there was a pull, a tug like someone was either grabbing my sternum and walking me toward my PC I have dedicated as my mail machine or pushing me toward it. I realized I was Googling the number for Riverbend so that I could finally call her.

As I spoke to the attending nurse, I understood the 'bound by law' and confidentiality for family, but I thought Steve has the sense to put me on the freakin 'need to know' list as I requested several months ago. Musta slipped his mind. The nurse encouraged me to visit as she indicated all family members do because she wasn't doing well.

Wasn't doing well?

There wasn't more she could say so I resolved to hang up because it made no sense to harrass her -she was 'bound by law.'

Within the next hour, I cried, I reminist, I pondered, and I decided to act by calling back the nurse to see if She could receive flowers. I was reminded the facility was much like a hospital except they didn't have TV or a phone and she indeed could receive flowers. I asked the nurse again about what she meant when she said the She wasn't doing well. She said it wasn't imminent, but she could go either way.

Imminent. Either way? Now that's vague and strong.

She also said that after my first call, she ran into Her room to tell her Brat called. Evidently, upon hearing that, her spirit picked up with recognition. I asked her if She was cogent and the nurse indicated that Her eyes would open when someone entered the room.

I found proflowers and bought two dozen assorted roses for her to at least smell if she couldn't see. I just didn't know her situation because I wasn't being told a damn thing. The roses were being sent overnight and anticipated arrival the next morning.

Knowing the flowers were being delivered, I quickly put an overnight package together that contained a belated Christmas Card, a St. Valentine's Day Card, a mother's day card and a letter. The letter was a quick and dirty stationery filled with most of the illustrations I was creating for SURTEX so that she could see what I've been doing with my days and inspirations as a successful artist. The letter was to remind her how much her love, guidance, patience and belief in me meant over the past 24 years. I hoped that someone in the home had the sense of urgency to open it and reveal all of the goodies to her and read the letter. I hoped the package would be received in time.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Is this where we come to recapture our youth?

A wonderful sound came streaming thru the neighborhood tonight. We had just finished a glass of red on the deck and Andrew began preparing dinner. The sun was setting later tonight, due to the benefit of Daily Saving Time occuring yesterday.

Our back screen door thwacked shut, echoing thru the wooded backyard into the peace of day that I most enjoy, as I stopped and perked my ears. "Was that...? Noooooooo." Silence. "Wait, there it is again!" I threw open the abused screen door to stroll out on to the deck to get a better listen. "Hark! I think me hears annnnn ICE CREAM TRUCK!"

The music danced among the newly budded trees as I desperately surveyed across the backyards to spot a hint of the traditional white truck. It's driving slowly but it's still in the 'hood. At the same instant, Andrew and I spied the very white truck driving thru our T-zone and down the street.

I thought it soooo cool that I beckoned Andrew to join me in stopping the truck for 'old time's sake.' We stood on our lawn for only a moment when he saw it parked in the nearby cul-de-sac. Woo-hoo! Let's go get ice cream!

There was only a small family of 3 claiming their prizes standing by the opened window of the truck. We approached the van nostalgically and asked, "Is this where we come to recapture our youth?"

Ahh, a fond memory -relived in my own neighborhood. We had to purchase two chocolate tacos (very new to me) and we promptly put them in the basement freezer to forget.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Creative Living as Luxe?

I am an artist. I believe we are all artists. I've been caught saying this before and have influenced other thinkers on this matter: No matter how one thinks of oneself, one is an artist. Even while doing dishes, the very act of doing the dishes is performance art -every act thereafter is just derivative of that act. Composing music, writing, illustrating, acting are just imitations of that act caught two-dimensionally.

So why is it after 40 years I've just confessed to myself that creating art was a luxury? I knew that year 40 would be a magical year. This year is the coming of age story of myself where I take direction with the knowledge I have experienced and acquired and put it to go use. Very good use.

I find myself frequently saying, "Thank God for Andrew." He was the one who has enabled me to focus and create art work worthy of other's adoration. As I played with paints, beads, and ink, we both found unique statement that begins a series worthy of reproduction.

I now believe creating art is not a luxury, but a mandate ordered to fulfill my promise to the world. I am liking this mandate.

Monday, March 21, 2005

What is a fate worse than death?

Having the Bush Administration decide when one lives and dies.

Today, I signed into law a bill that will allow federal courts to hear a claim by or on behalf of Terri Schiavo for violation of her rights relating to the withholding or withdrawal of food, fluids, or medical treatment necessary to sustain her life," Bush said in a statement.

Just another reason leaving the US is a good idea. Canada is too cold, although I never met a Canuk I didn't like. Perhaps Spain? Nah, then I'd really learn to hate the British -the Gibralter issue and all that. Italy? Nah, the highest appeals ruled that women wearing jeans can't be raped. Any place North of those two is just too damn cold.

My little icon to the right states that I'm in an imaginative mood. That may be, but I'm getting really very angry.

This is my public statement: Being of sound mind and body, I hereby ask anyone to pull the plug on my life support after a reasonable time of incapacitation. Allow me to define reasonable: If I am in a coma, allow 3 weeks, then pull feeding tubes and other man-made objects from my body. I cannot conceive of providing a fulfilling life to myself or to my husband if I have brain damage of any extent. I am an artist and if I cannot create, I am not living a productive life. I do not want battles over sustaining my life. Just pull the damn plugs.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Quote from The Incredibles

"Luck favors the prepared."
Edna, the designer to ElastiGirl

Monday, March 14, 2005

10 Things I Have Learned by Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser was a mentor of mine in college, although he didn't know it. Upon design class enrollment, we were to learn his name, study his philosophy, and emulate his passion. God help any of us if we could be so enlightened and talented.

Meanwhile, Professor Milton has created a collage of learned ideas influenced by artisans all over the world. Cultures include African groups to the Balinese whose approach to art is not a separate activity from daily life. I believe life is performance art, and if this is true, I'm almost always embarrassing myself onstage.

Here's a list of Milton's practice of design repackaged attractively from the past 50 years:

1 - You can only work for people that you like
2 - If you have a choice, never have a job
3 - Some people are toxic, avoid them
4 - Professionalism is not enough or The Good is the Enemy of the Great
5 - Less is not necessarily more
6 - Style is not to be trusted
7 - How you live changes your brain
8 - Doubt is better than certainty
9 - Solving the problem is more important that being right
10 - Tell the Truth

How tunes get stuck in your head

BBC NEWS | Health | How tunes get stuck in your head

Don't want that song swirling in your brain like an eddie? The key is to finish listening to the song before turning it off!

If you can't do this, we've come up with a couple of songs that will turn your brain station channel:

Karma Chameleon
Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

Do you have any to recommend?

Monday, February 28, 2005

Fake Passports Finally Returned

Fake Passports Are Returned
Posted February 28, 2005

CINCINNATI-As written in last week's Breaking News, posted on Feb. 21, the Austrian artist, Robert Jelinek, had his fake passports confiscated from his luggage at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport after a customs agent thought they may be harmful if imported. The Contemporary Arts Center reports that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has confirmed that the items will be released and returned to the artist. These "passports" were supposed to be included in the exhibition "Incorporated: a recent (incomplete) history of infiltrations, actions and propositions utilizing contemporary art," under the group "Sabotage."

The exhibit is a group of six artist groups who have adopted pseudo-institutional fronts to engage in political and socio-economic activities. Other artist groups included "The Atlas Group," "Institute for Applied Autonomy," "Newsense Enterprises," "Temporary Services" and "The Yes Men."

Saturday, February 26, 2005

6th Annual: Open That Bottle Night

Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005

OTBN was created in 1999 for a simple reason: All of us have that one bottle of wine that is so special to us that we plan to open it on an important occasion, but never do. On OTBN, as a world-wide community, we prepare a special meal, finally open that bottle, and celebrate the memories.

We found this article on the Wall Street Journal and thought it embodied a great amount of merit.,,SB110747617716745627-search,00.html?collection=wsjie%2F30day&vql_string=wines+with+a+past%3Cin%3E%28article%2Dbody%29

Quick notes for the evening: (add'l notes can be found in the link)
1. Stand the wine up
2. Both reds and whites are often better closer to cellar temperature (around 55 degrees).
3. With an old bottle, the cork may break easily.
4. Otherwise, do not decant.
5. Have a backup wine ready for your special meal, in case your old wine really has gone bad.
6. Serve dinner.
7. Talk about the person who gave you the wine, or the circumstances under which you received it. This makes the wine resonate in a very sweet and personal way.
8. Enjoy the wine for what it is, not what it might be or might once have been.
9. Save one last glass in the bottle.
10. After the dishes are done, drink up, and enjoy those very last moments of a special night. asks that you drop them a note about your evening, although, we'd like to hear about it, too.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Chinese Horoscope for 1965

My MIL is hilarious. She's more pious than superstitious, but more often than not, she's humourous. Once in awhile, Andrew & I will find ourselves on a conference call with both of them, discussing work matters, etc. She'll continue with, "Well, I've been reading your horoscope."

"Who's?" we'll chime together.

It so happens, I found my Chinese horoscope 2005 forecast during Year of the Rooster.

For those born in '65:
Your lucky sector is the Southeast (142.5° - 157.5°) of the home provided it does not house unfavourable time energies. This year is the best for you to carve a niche for your career. You must be able to differentiate between good and bad friends. In order for you to show off your talents, you must have a strong determination. Be extra careful when dealing with documents and contracts. Your wealth luck is good and there will be gains in your investments. There will also be chances in striking the lottery.You will become a popular person this year and you will go on many dates. Do be faithful towards your love partner. "

Hmm... if I really believe that I didn't have options in my life and that I didn't control my fate, this looks pretty damn good. Let's see what happens with both the forecast and my determination combined. Stay tuned.

For your personal forecast, you can go here:

Status du jour

After pestering him about her condition, I learn that her health is steady but not necessarily on the rise. I encouraged him to at least send out a quick note to inform the rest of us -not immediately in the circle- because we just can't get the hourly updates. I just received a note yesterday that she now needs a tracheotomy to relieve the stress on the vocal cords. God, a trach...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

New Zealand Unveils Stonehenge Replica

Celts, rejoice! A full-scale replica of Stonehenge has opened in New Zealand.

C|Net - Located roughly 90 minutes from the capital city of Wellington, Stonehenge Aotearoa is designed to educate the public about astronomy and the technical capabilities of the ancients, as well as draw tourists. It doesn't look like the present-day, crumbling 4,000-year-old stones in southern England. Rather, it tries to re-create how the structures may have appeared at the time of their ribbon cutting.

More than 1,000 hours of astronomical calculations and surveys went into the design of the structure, which took about a year to erect, according to the Phoenix Astronomical Society, which came up with the idea for the replica and built it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Artist's 'fantasy passports' confiscated at airport

CINCINNATI, Ohio (AP) -- Fake passports created by an Austrian artist for a contemporary museum exhibit were confiscated at an airport after a customs agent thought they might be harmful if imported, government and museum officials said Tuesday.

"I think it says a lot about the condition of our world today, that everyone is understandably on the alert," said director Linda Shearer.

The items were supposed to be included in the museum's exhibit titled "State of Sabotage," which focuses on government or corporate power over the individual, Shearer said.

The items belonged to an art group headed by Vienna artist Robert Jelinek, and included what the government described as "fantasy passports," along with ink pads, rubber stamps and ink. They were taken from Jelinek's luggage February 9 in Detroit as he headed for Cincinnati.

You can read more of the ridiculous story here but also note, I believe art effectuates truth. Or is it the opposite?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Valentine's Day Treat

Both Andrew and I have our fortés, specially when it comes to the kitchen: he cooks, I eat. Simple. Luv that! However, I do enjoy concocting ingenious chocolate decadence every once in awhile.

My culinary alchemist and I shared an evening of pork tenderloin with wine reduction sauce, baby aspargras, sweet potatoe and a luscious bottle of Ravenswood Zinfandel; inspired by one of our new favorite Atlanta restaurants: Vine. Additionally, I made every exception to get my carcass into the kitchen to do something nice for my beloved and decided to create something totally new.

Manhattan's ice cream parlor, Serendipity 3, gave me impetus to attempt their Frozen Hot Chocolate. Realizing that the prep time was minimal and we'd have fun sharing a little chocolate tête-a-tête, I can see how this was 'the bomb' 50 years ago.

Frozen Hot Chocolate Recipe

6 half-ounce pieces of a variety of your favorite chocolates
2 teaspoons store-bought hot chocolate mix
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups ice
Whipped cream
Chocolate shavings


Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted.

Add the cocoa and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended. Remove from heat and slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a blender place the remaining cup of milk, the room temperature chocolate mixture, and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Enjoy with a spoon or a straw.

Our recommendations
We shopped at our local Wholefoods and picked up hazelnut milk chocolate, Ghirdelli's double-chocolate chip and dark chocolate bar. We also used only 2 cups of ice since all 3 cups taxed our blender.


I just had to make my Valentine a card:

Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York Chocolate Cafes

Hershey bars are for the weak - one needs to travel to NYC to get a taste at a local chocolate cafe! Each cafe has its own personality and at most cafes, chocolates from the display case are $1 to $3.50 apiece; desserts requiring a fork run $5 to $8. Hot chocolate so thick you'll need a spoon and a cold water chaser runs $3 to $7.

The Chocolate Bar, in the West Village
(48 Eighth Ave., near Jane Street).
Specialty: Chocolate tea. light, palate-clearing alternative to the thick hot chocolate.
Treats: creatively flavored -- rosehip chocolates and seriously spicy brownies.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven (350 Hudson St., near King).
Specialty: Chocolate is made from scratch, starting with the cocoa beans. Window show of candymakers in white gowns assembling goodies amid the mini-factory's gleaming silver tubes and vats. The spacious, light-filled, unpretentious cafe has a warm and welcoming staff. Cookies and other treats are also available.

Payard (1032 Lexington Ave. near 73rd Street).
Specialty: Masterpiece collection of chocolates named for painters. Picasso is dark chocolate flavored with Earl Gray; Van Gogh is chocolate with pistachio, and Chagall has pralines.

Chocolate Chess, anyone?

La Maison du Chocolat (1018 Madison Ave., near 78th Street).
Specialty: Togo, dark chocolate filled with mousse ($6), is a nice alternative to individual chocolates. There's another Maison at 30 Rockefeller Plaza if you're ice-skating or visiting the newly reopened Museum of Modern Art (53rd Street near Fifth Avenue).

SOHO Boutiques
Vosges Haut Chocolat(132 Spring St., near Greene).
Specialty: The unusual combinations, like white chocolate with olive oil and Kalamata olives, and "Budapest" -- dark chocolate with Hungarian paprika.

Lunettes et Chocolat (25 Prince St., near Mott).
Specialty: Eye candy. The store sells eyeglass frames -- $225 to $1,000 -- and MarieBelle chocolates -- two for $7. Chocolates here are miniature works of art, topped with colorful, edible geometric designs and silhouettes, all silkscreened on cocoa butter with natural food coloring. Wash them down with spicy hot chocolate, containing cinnamon, nutmeg and chipotle. (Another MarieBelle is located at 484 Broome St., near West Broadway.)

The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park (Two West Street, at the foot of Manhattan, near the Bowling Green subway station):
Specialty: Chocolate Bar. Fridays and Saturdays in February, at 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., plus 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Feb. 14, Valentine's Day.

Finally, if you've got an extra 100 bucks to blow, go to FAOSwartz(58th Street and Fifth Avenue).
Specialty: Volcano. A chocolate-and-ice cream concoction, with candy boulders and chocolate caramel lava, serves four; kids get hardhats and shovels before digging in.

We've love to frequent Marie-Belle on Bloome. They've got thee best hot chocolate served up European style. We enjoy bringing it back as a gift to our kitty sitter.

Marie Belle

Why Darker is Better

We don't have to avoid chocolate altogether on St. Valentine's Day.

My daily South Beach Diet Newsletter confirms that limiting the milk chocolate consumption and head straight to the dark. Why?

Darker is better and frankly, milk chocolate tends to contain quite a bit of sugar. Choosing the plain chocolate bars are often labeled with a percentage of cacao (50%, 70%, etc.) shows the higher the percentage, the more antioxidants it contains. One can find these at your local Wholefoods stores and other specialty spots.

Woo-hoo! We've just purchased a combination of sweet dark, milk chocolate hazelnut, and double chocolate for a special dessert I'm making for my honey tomorrow night. I won't reveal it until it's made, so hold tight and I'll disclose the recipe Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Pheadrus de la Felidae Isle Poste

Year of the Rooster 2005
It has been my penchant to procrastinate in the most creative ways. I've just joined an artistamp group and have finally busted hump to combine both my calligraphic endeavors with layout. Aside from the fact that I've wanted to begin a series of Chinese New Year animals...

Here is my first official release from the Felidae Noir Press:

Additional components of this overachiever include:
*Contacting the director of this group to assign a personal AML#, mine happens to be #223.
*Personally create a fictitious 'Issuing Authority' and 'Issuing Country'. I am Countess Phaedrus de la Felidae Isle (Protectorate of Baccharoo) and my issuing authority is the Felidae Noir Poste.
*I will soon have my own authentic mail cancel stamp with my real zip code. Details forthcoming.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Optical Illusions

One would think I am ransacking the net for the strange and bizarre. However, it just seems to be my lifestyle to point these things out while others believe certain products and beliefs 'just exist without question.' It's a designer's creed to create and understand optical illusions in pursuit of the client's final product.

Here is the classic example of an optical illusion. Do you see a young woman or an old lady. Bonus point if you see both.

Now, I have to ask, do these cheese spreaders look like mice to you... or do they look like members of the KKK?

The reinforcment of this illusion is that the product is large and faded against the stark white background, while appearing to loom over the landscape like a cross on a landscape. Moreover, the contrived product with rounded arms seems like a friendly introduction for a KKK larve playground.

Swatch "Bunnysutra"

The makers of this particular Swatch want us to believe these bunnies are just actually snuggling together. Well, if that's what they call it these days...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Cask Wines

As aspiring oenophiles, we're reading good things about boxed, er, cask wines. "Cask" wines are the new name for "boxed" wines with the quality from the wine-in-a-bottle but at the fraction of the cost. We've begun to open our minds and our palates to vineyard and technology experimentation. With the evolution of plastic, it's amazing how they've been able to stave off the oxidation process for almost nine months; the boxed wines are now in the ring with the better of them.

We're delighted to report that one has definitely passed our taste: SE Australian BoxingRoo Shiraz.

It's dark purple with a creamy, berry nose. It's rich and soft with distinctive spicy berry and gentle currant flavors. It's about $18 for a 3-liter box, equivalent to 4 bottles. They've even got a measure on the side with the number of bottles displayed. One can't see how much remains since the box is, well, cardboard. I like it because it looks like software packaging.

As far as we know, there is only one place that sells it in Raleigh -but we're not revealing the location.

Georgian Wine

Okay, we bought this Georgian wine strictly because of the bottle. Asking a few questions, we learned it's a sweet red -which suits us perfectly. We haven't tried it yet, but I have scanned the tag attached. I'll take the photo later and we'll definitely post our reviews. I just need to learn more about it before I open the ceramic bottle -I get only one attempt at opening the bottle correctly.

What I've recently learned about the Kindzmarauli: Red, naturally semi-sweet wine, 100% Saperavi varietal, from the Kindzmarauli microzone of the Kvareli area in the Kakheti region, Republic of Georgia. It has a distinguishable varietal bouquet, intense aroma, harmonious and velvety flavor.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Calling Cards Reinvented

I had been talking about this idea for a long time now and it's come to fruition. Actually, I didn't do anything about it, someone else has.

Street Cards are a great way of keeping in touch. Not to mention, a blessed way of breaking the ice for those of us who can't seem to open themselves to new people.

This is just super cool and super easy.

We love that!

gapingvoid: inspiration

I've just discovered this book gapingvoid: how to be creative by huge mcleod and I love it. Additionally, on his blog I found a fabulous collection of bizcard art. I wish he'd print up t-shirts or something because I found the one I want.

"Wolf vs Sheep"
No, I don't have an answer to which option is better. Both exact a heavy toll, eventually.

Monday, January 31, 2005

The Creative's Way to a Chronicled Life

Second Title: The Wine Lover's Calendar

There seems to be a friendly competition among humans to find creative ways to register their day-to-day activites. Aside from the boring Gregorian calendar we hang off the fridge (yawn), I'm certain that there are other forms of register that we can covet as our very own.

Some have used personal diaries (based on Gregorian system) that include an emotional characteristic. Others have used their personal checkbook to maintain a timetable. This may be useful since it is also based on the Gregorian system, but includes a monetary characteristic, bundled with emotional ties. Were we grocery shopping just before an ice storm? Were we shopping for an obligatory birthday gift? Were we using shop therapy to temporarily minimize the hostile work environment to which we're to return after lunch?

Meanwhile, I've got my own method for calculating time passage: wine corks. I discovered this the other night when I gingerly dropped a cork on the convex mound of already accumulating inside a silver wine cooler on our dry bar. Suddenly, the precarious mound spilled like the story of the last straw and the camel. This proverbial camel was accompanied by another beast of burden: a 2 gallon glass jar primarily purchased for the trove of colorfully stained reminders of dinners and celebrations together.

It was official: unless we wanted to add another ox to our beastie collection that was already crowding the bar, we just needed to begin anew -and that's when it hit me. Use the corks to verify our existence, but in a personal, unique way. They are the elements of time passage and by God, I wouldn't want it any other way.

As we separated the corks -real vs plastic- sweet memories abound through categorizing. The dinners at home that Andrew would cook or the foolish times we opened that cursed second bottle because his parents were visiting. We reviewed the first month of the year and began to count backward, removing sick time, out-of-town travelling time and evenings we just didn't drink.

Proudly clean and sporting fresh corks, our glass jar sits prominently on our dry bar, awaiting the days to include new memories over the next year. (photo coming soon).

Now we need to find new ways to use our corks crammed into 4 - 1 gallon bags resting on our kitchen island. Actually, we have plenty of ideas, we just need to find the time. I'm not heading back to the Gregorian calendar any time soon, it's a dysfunctional calculator that subtracts -it doesn't add.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Don't Turn Your Back on Your Fellow Goat - Family - Goat Invades Man's Home, Won't Leave

I just had to blog this. I've heard of animal rivalry before, but this is hilarious.

VENETA, Ore. -- An Oregon man says a goat has horned in on his home.

Randy Cox came home from work to find a goat in an out building he uses for a recreation room. The goat was just hanging out with the family dog, Dandy.

Cox said the dog and the goat seemed to hit it off well, until he started petting the goat. Dandy, apparently jealous, started barking.

Cox said he called animal control, the sheriff's department and an emergency number for loose livestock, but no one will get his goat.

That has left Cox with a goat following him around and chewing on his jacket.

Cox said the goat's friendly, "as long as you don't turn your back on him."


Anyone have issues with a forced adoption by a four-legged fuzzy?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Mrs. Flying Squirrel

Before Andrew got home last night, I had decided to open a bottle of Crock Rock. He was bringing home dinner for me from BoneFish Grill and he was late.

Meanwhile, the boys and I were hearing some strange sounds coming from the deck. Poor Mrs Flying Squirrel , who makes her nocturnal visits on our bird feeder, had entered the emtpy feeder (thanks to the freaking squirrels) and closed the cap on herself. Thus, she was incredibly desperate and frightened -specially seeing my huge face coming at her, jumping up and down, frantically butting her head against the plug, but not releasing. I could hear the chain inside rattle against the copper and the light from the flashlight caught her sweet face and white underbelly against the glass.

"Aww, Mrs. Flying Squirrel, I bet you're scared to death. Those damn squirrels pulled out the plug, availing the dangers of getting trapped to you. I'm going to remove the plug and let you jump out."

After a few minutes, she peaked her head out of the birdfeeder and scrambled back to the trunk of the tree. Immediately, I refilled the bird feeder, hoping she'd find food to come back to, if her little beating heart would allow her. Damn squirrels. I've got to find a way to secure the plug closed.

Any ideas?

Status - redux

Received a note indicating that she'll be heading back into surgery Thursday (last evening) due to her breast bone that split when she coughed. God she's got to be in pain. My hands just sweat thinking about it.

I can't send flowers since she's in ICU. Crap.

Her Status

Received a vm stating that her condition is fair. Crap. What was their number? Thanks to Outlook, it deleted everything from my address book at the end of the year.

Life Outside Raleigh

By mid-month, Andrew and I found ourselves in Atlanta, attending a tradeshow on behalf of the CalligraphyPets.

I hadn't heard anything more on her pending heart surgery.

When we returned home, I discovered an email that indicated she had gone in Monday, Jan 17th. I should not have told the rents to check my email by pressing F5. I should have conceded weighing thru my spam to find the note from Steve that indicated her condition.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I didn't even ask about Christmas

Niestzche said, "Life is a terminal illness."

On January 2, she answered the phone. I, for some reason, had not found the time to call on the 1st to wish a happy new year. When I asked the customary, 'How are you?' she somersaulted into one of two responses, "Doin' okay," or "Ohh, not very well." Today, it was the latter.

"I don't understand," I'd considerately replied. She was feeling okay on Christmas when we talked. Or did she? She began to tell me that she just spent a week in the hospital due to her heart. She continued to describe how it came about in the bathroom of the bingo hall with no one around her. She was alone, utterly alone. She continued to the car, waiting for the self-diagnosed 'anxiety-attack' to subside. After weighing her options, as all people do when they feel they're 'well-enough' to continue, she drove home. She should have driven to the hospital as it was not only closer, but she needed it more than she needed to go home -only to have the ambulance drive her 40 miles back into town to Hurley.

She's got to have open heart surgery she informed me. I have my doubts. Her health, her weight, her loss this last year with her beloved Westie and then her beloved husband. She's made immediate plans to finally, finally! move into a home where she's got 'round the clock care and peers who understand. For that, I'm elated. I also understand after tonight's conversation, that if something should happen to her during surgery or recovery, that she can swiftly move into the group home -minus the waiting period.

A month for waiting period is a great waiting time, unless your life is against the clock. Again, I exhibit doubts. My heart weighs heavy on the thought that she should shoulder my complaints about the lack of communication I'm receiving from her son. The dynamics between he & his wife and the woman and late husband who treated me as their daughter during my ripe years are deep.

After 2 glasses of shiraz (my winter's choice), I found the courage to call Steve, although, I decided to 'call the house' instead hoping to hear her voice. I didn't want to talk to Steve 'cause I thought I'd, well, I wasn't sure what my motive was. Just say hello, offer my condolences and remind him of the email I sent on Sunday. Yes, I'm here, I exist, remember me dammit. We made a pact 20 years ago when we were kids that he'd contact me should anything happen to his/our parents. He hasn't lived up to it. As an ex-Marine, I thought we'd have some kind of fellowship.

I broke down during my conversation with her tonight telling her everything I thought I needed to say should I not have the opportunity to say it again. (I need to tap into the vocal blog as I need to pause to grieve). Thoughts run rampant and now I cannot collect them into a cohesive measure to make music -I always sucked at writing.

According to my plans, I told her how I thought life should have gone and it started with college, a career, someplace where I could sell my art and make a remarkable difference. I wanted to make a difference by 30 so that I could provide my family and friends the comfort they deserved during their golden years because I knew damn well the government wasn't going to do it. It wasn't turning out the way I had planned -nothing had.

Then again, perhaps...

I continued telling her about my updates to the Atlanta show, careful not inundate her with minutia. I could hear her heart begin to wane of enthusiasm for life in general. She had acknowledged that moving out of the house was timely and was comforted with the end of this phase in her life as she knew it. As I knew it, too. Steve and his wife were making plans to move into the house and take over mortgage payments. These plans not only assuaged her sorrow, but allowed her to move on to Act III. I desperately told her that I had plans, too, and that she was included within; she was part of my only original and inclusive family I had choosen.

I so was frustrated with Steve, but understood the dynamics of the immediate and extended family. I even went so far as to paraphrase some of the conversation I had with Andrew after speaking directly with her on Sunday. "Pardon me for being arrogant, " I stammered after finishing my second glass of wine, "but I think I set a benchmark for Steve's wives. I didn't mean to, but I remember long ago you said that I was the daughter you never had. How can they live up to that?" She admitted that she didn't know. I wasn't looking for answers, but had to spew some rhetoric that may otherwise never see the light of day.

I also explained that while we hear -while I hear- that families are so important, so are the close friendships we consider family. I won't be ignored -I don't give a rats ass what your wife's issue is, grow a spine -dammit. While I look for family among friends, many people already have friends among family.

Her tired voice assured me that he read my email imploring him to keep me 'in-the-loop' but had it on his 'to-do' list. Is that the list that your wife keeps? My cynicism never won me any friends, but it made the ones I had stand up and take notice. I don't like to see my friends slide under the confines of self-imposed restraints, nor do I want them to allow me to slip under mine. I then confessed the pact that we had made when we were kids -20 years earlier to her.

I reminded her several times that I didn't want to burden her with pithy comments from me, the outsider. An individual who didn't want money or anything else except to make sure she was living well. She understood -she told me so in her weary voice. I hung to desperation as I needed her to hear that I wasn't going anywhere and I didn't want anything. I strived to remain strong but my voice cracked a couple of times. God, 40 is around the block and my voice is cracking. Wait... that's the sound of grief.

I just wish people could return to a primal level where jealously and animosity disappeared and we came together as a people to help the ones we love.

I also realized that 20 years later I might be at the point where I can finally help my family/friends in their golden years. My hopes had sprung a leak into the pond of idealism once again. It wasn't often, but I'd have my moments of optimism and yearnings regain momentum. Perhaps, while her late husband has passed on, I could possible still help her -send her a monthly check to alleviate the strife of being cold, hungry, including prescription drugs. Oh wait, perhaps her community home will do that for her...? Wait, there's Medicade. I just dunno; I'm just not in the loop.

Why does reality butt its nose into my dreams? I just want to help -I need to help.

We synchronized our calendars and I learned that she'll be seeing her doctor on Tuesday and the heart specialist on Wednesday to schedule open heart surgery. "Intriquing," I said aloud. "That's when we head to Atlanta." Hopefully to sign on a couple of large deals so that my dreams can finally meet reality and I can finally do for the people I love.

"I know you'll knock 'em dead." she encouraged.

Oh God, don't use that word.