Abstract laundry

Just got back from holiday vacation with family and now in the post-vacation laundry onslaught. Reminds me of some paintings I did recently….

The assignment was to take a portion of a painting and make it into an abstract.

This is the original:

Valley of Dreams                                           oil                                         10 x 20


The new abstracts still look like laundry.

laundry line 1        oil     8 x 10
laundry line 2        oil              6 x 6

Despite my best efforts, a representational core. Sigh…just can’t get away from that laundry!


Harvest Pumpkin

solid pumpkin                                        oil                                                        20 x 20

What are the warning signs of an obsession with squash? The pathology of gourdomania.

A Squirrel Ate My Internet

Got back from running errands late Friday morning and when I logged onto my computer, soon saw the internet connection was not available. Grumbling, I proceeded upstairs to our modem and noticed something new- a bright red light on the control panel. Usually if our internet goes out, there is a blinking yellow light. Solid red was something new.

After confirming that our land line, cable television and Alexa-cloud-stereo system were down, I called my husband on the cell. “Do you want to walk me through re-booting the system?” I asked him.

“No, it’s too complicated. I’ll do it myself when I come home this evening.”

But after following the usual protocol, and being put on hold for twenty minutes by AT&T and again going through the usual protocol, my husband was forced to make an appointment with a cable technician for the next day.

When the kids asked Alexa to play a song, she sadly replied, “I don’t understand the question. Please ask again later.” Cloud disconnection leads to device dementia.

That night my 16 year old stayed up and read an entire book. He couldn’t cruise YouTube videos.

The cable guy came the next morning, and after he confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the modem nor on the property connection (relieved exhale, we weren’t responsible for footing the bill on this repair call), he would have to look for culprits further down the line.  He said the problem was likely a case of ‘new-guy-itis’.

“Some new guy is adding another customer and forgets to plug back in the old customers.”

Forty-five minutes later, the diagnosis of newguyitis was incorrect. Something else was going on but a second cable repairman would have to be called.

We were going on 24 hours without internet service. My daughter peered over her book. “Mom? Was it like this when you were growing up?” Indeed.

Two hours later, the second cable guy knocked on our door. My husband went to answer, I ran up to the modem and saw all the yellow lights turned on. Our internet was restored!

The cable repairman explained that squirrels had made a nest in the foam insulator surrounding the internet relay station two blocks away. Apparently, they selectively chewed through our fiber optic connector to build their winter retreat.

It sounds like a bad homework excuse, “the squirrels ate my internet”, but we survived. Somehow. Just like the pioneers, but with electricity, running water, central heat, and plumbing.

Lifestyles of the 1%

My new idea for a tv show: Take a city in America and show the lifestyle of a top 1% family and a bottom 1% family. Show their home, the neighborhood where they live, what they do in their leisure time. Ask each family what their biggest problem is for that week. Ask the top 1% what charity they support, ask the bottom 1% if they have ever received help from that charity. Go to every major city in the USA and burst open these bubbles.

A Ride Across the Desert

I am reading through Quran, trying to find inspiration, and I find Jacob’s response to his sons, when they bring the bloodied shirt of their brother Joseph to him. They tell their father Joseph has been killed by wolves. Jacob replies that he will have faith in God and have “sabr-en jamil”, which translates as “beautiful patience” or “graceful patience”. I’m a bit puzzled by the word choice- “jamil”? Typical me in these circumstance, I run to my Quranic vocabulary book to search for the vowel roots “jim-mim-la”.

The first word with this root is “camel”. Camel?

Then I start to think about how important a camel would be to someone on the Arabian Peninsula.

I tell my kids that now is the time to have “patience like the camel”- and by that I mean that they have to cling to patience just as a Bedouin would cling to his camel in the wide open desert. You just have to pray that that camel is going to get you to water, to safety, to where you need to be in order to survive. You have to have faith that the camel will get you there, no matter how bad that desert may seem.

Rewards of Speaking Your Truth

The day after the election I went to paint with my friends in the southern suburbs. I felt awful, like I had been beat up with a baseball bat- but I thought it would be better to be around people than hole up in some cave.

My friend Corrie has founded a painting group. We are nine women of different ages, background and faiths, but what we all have in common is we are artists. We meet each Wednesday and paint together. And yes- we are even diverse in our approach to art. Some are realistic still life oil painters,a few do pastel, watercolor, collage, and abstract acrylic. I really love these women. Corrie has created a supportive atmosphere where one is free to make art. Even though I know that Corrie and her whole family are ardent Republicans and Trump voters, I know that Corrie is my friend and I love her dearly.

The day after the election, we weren’t talking much politics. It was still too raw for most of us. Corrie turned our attention to a potential venue for a show. She really wants all of us to put on a show together.

Corrie started talking about this beautiful church she had found in La Grange and how the programs director was enthusiastic about our group exhibiting there. I didn’t say anything, but a warning flag came up in my mind. This was a church. I listened closely. Corrie said that our work would be exhibited in the central sanctuary (where they pray) for everyone to see. She said the venue was beautiful: the church was built of gray stone with imported dark wood carvings from Italy. They exhibit shows regularly, so the lighting is really good. A lot of people would be seeing our work, and that’s what artists want, right? As many people as possible looking at their work.

I felt my stomach go into knots. She was so enthusiastic and hopeful- who was I to rain on her parade? Is quashing my friend’s hope sufficient reason for me to smother my truth? I decided that I had better get used to speaking up and suffering the consequences because I might be having to do a lot of that over the next four years. In my head I repeated to myself, “Never ask a question where you are afraid to hear the answer.” I would be testing my friends.

I said, “This sounds like a beautiful venue, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t feel comfortable exhibiting my work there.”

Corrie looked at me in shocked disbelief.

“It’s just that I’m Muslim. And the people you spoke with at the church, they are assuming that all of us are Christian. There are some people in that church who may not be comfortable having Muslim paintings in their sanctuary. This sounds like a great opportunity for all of you to exhibit, so you go for it. Don’t let me stop you. I’ll do another show with you.”

Corrie said, “Well, I don’t think they would object.”

I replied, “I don’t think you understand the political climate right now.” She stared at me in disbelief. “I think you at least have to tell the people in charge the situation. They’ll know their parish better than you, they’ll know how people will feel about it.”

Corrie looked thoughtful. Then she said, “We’re not doing this show without you. We are going to show together, all of us. That is what this group is about. And if this church doesn’t want your work there because you are Muslim, then I don’t want my work there either. It is against my Christian principles to have this kind of discrimination.”

I thanked her. Tears welled up in my eyes. Although I had initially been afraid to speak up, after I found the courage to do so, I was rewarded with a demonstration of my friend’s love and solidarity.

Sometimes it is ok to rain on someone’s parade. Those puddles can give off beautiful reflections.

As a postscript, I’m sharing the paintings I made that day in Corrie’s workshop. Not my best effort, but considering the emotional circumstances, I’m ok with them.

I recently read of one meditation technique whereby you keep focused one image for a full minute, trying very hard to not think of anything else, blocking out all other competing thoughts. Looks like I am going to be doing a lot of still lives in the days to come….


Wearing My Pin

I’m taking a cue from Kate Brunner over at Feminism and Religion:

” For the foreseeable future, I’ll be wearing a single suffragette “pearl” on a safety pin, fastened over my heart to let anyone who crosses my path know I am a safe person to ask for help should they ever feel unsafe or threatened in my country. And notice I said anyone — I mean it too. ALL of my fellow Americans. Even the ones who would seek to strip me of rights and protections. As challenging as it may be, the service my faith demands of me does not discriminate.”

She was inspired by the Australian and Brexit movement.

I’m not going to wear a single pearl, instead I’ll be wearing the pins that my mother used to wear. They aren’t white, but I feel they better embody the message I am trying to convey. Added bonus, they will remind me of my mother and the values she tried so hard to pass on to me. I know if she were here now, she would be wearing a pin. I mean, look at how many she left me!

You are safe.

I’m looking forward to giving someone a much-needed hug.