Sunday, March 30, 2008

All I got were Free Socks

Running season has begun here in Chicago. Today I ran a very popular 8K run (Shamrock Shuffle). I ran it with my buddy Brian Mc (physchologist in trianing - literally). I work out like a maniac (2 hours, 4 times a week) and have to say that I did better than he did. No disrespect, Scrub. Hey, I'm in pretty good shape. Seriously folks, I'd like to give major snaps to Brian who picked up running again after a long hiatus. He is a total rock star and kicked the Shamrock Shuffle's butt. He also has some big runs under his belt notwithstanding a Chicago Marathon. He's the real deal. All that while being married, paying a mortgage, getting his Psy.D and planning his internship at Stroger Hospital. He's been my un-blooded bro since high school. Sorry that he is off the market gals. And his wife, Ann, is super-scary smart. I love her. But she knows how to stealthily kill me in my sleep. I'm so glad we get along -- Annicakes! :-)
Nothing like stinging rain to at 36 degrees to get you movin'. We finished the Shuffle in under an hour and then went out for brunch and ate like truck drivers (sidebar: I can do this anytime if the food is good. I like food).
The race was great but I need to vent about getting screwed over by buying a second-hand racing bib. A bib is simply a number on a piece of paper that you safety pin to your shirt on race day. It allows one to "legally" participate in a race. You are really paying to get the t-shirt. I searched high and low on hoping to find a Bib for the Shamrock Shuffle. I was hitting it hard; morning, noon and night.. They were getting scooped out from under me. Finally my number came up. "
"Shamrock Shuffle Bib for Sale - Women's Small" -
Eureka! The seller (a female) wanted me to meet her on Fri night at an estimated time. I was an hour late calling her after our "estimated" time. She sends me a nasty email telling me how rude I was. I call and email back with apologies and that I am still "in". She calls me the next AM and wants to make a transaction. I was swamped and sent my husband Rob and two kids to fetch this bib. She takes $5 off of the already inflated price of the bib (by $15) Rob comes home with a Men's med shirt rather than women's shirt. So I just paid $45 to run an 8K - no wearable tee - !*@$!. There was a coupon for free Nike socks which I redeemed that morning. Ok so I got socks out of it. Oh yeah, and the sweet satisfaction of "thinking" I'm in better shape than Brian (he's like a brother). Next time, I'll skip the tee and run like Forest Gump on the streets. It was fun running around downtown. Chi-town is lookin' sooo good. I love this city.
Next up is the Pilgrim Kid Care Fun Run/Walk (5K) on April 19th! All proceeds go to Pilgrim School KidCare; an organization that educates elementary school kids about homelessness in Chicago Did you know the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old! Shocking. The Pilgrim kids are making a difference. Kids helping kids. Come out an run!
After that, Soldier Field 10 miler. The finish is on the 50 yard line at Soldier Field - May 24th! You can come out and cheer me on! I'm training! Wow, look at me; I'm like the Tasmanian Devil. Any takers??

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Night Painting

I'd love to say I painted plein air at night in a snow storm, but I'd be lying. I was out in the snow on SuperBowl Sunday and snapped this shot with my camera phone (I wrote about it here). It was a challenge to paint. The only way to render snow in watercolor paint is to not use paint but paint the things around the snow. Negative painting. I think I blew a pupil. The photo of the painting DOES NOT capture the true colors. The colors in the the painting are so much more intense and clear - my camera could not translate this. If Gloria Gaynor can survive, so can I.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ahh - Blinding White

I heard a statistic that darkness cannot be measured. Darkness is the opposite of light, which can be measured. So the only way darkness can be defined is to be "less light". Kinda of cosmically optimistic of God to make it that way, eh? I love being outside in inclimate and severe weather. I'm drawn to it like a moth to flame. The weather evokes passion in me. Sometimes it evokes thoughts of lost loves or instills longing for new ones as well as unseen lands. I got a weather fix today. Well a mini one.

This morning, I bundled up bigtime and headed out into the snow. It was overcast and gray. But the snow was still quiet, white and intact. It hadn't turned to noisy grey slush. Laden down with all my plein air painting stuff I headed to Wood and Division - our meet-up spot. I drove around there the other day hoping to find some inspiration for my painting. It was difficult for weeding out the noise of modern man and yuppies. Arrgghh, where was the beauty? Division, west of Damen, is looking really good - BTW. Lots of cute shops and eateries. Not too intimidating like the shops of Bucktown (have a decent sale already for Beck's sake).

Today I walked all over Wood/Division-area looking around, checking the light, looking for neat shadows, etc. Good thing I had a hot latte in my hand or else I would've been abysmally disappointed. I was having a tough time. There is a lot more foot and car traffic in this part of the city and the snow had been disturbed. The snowscape idea was losing it's appeal quickly. How many more days would I have to actually paint snowscapes (see some of my previous attempts here)? Today really counted to me.
I came to a place across from an alley next to the post office at Marshfield and Hadoon. The alley revealed the rear side of shabby frame housing and remnants of small businesses. But above it all, the scene gave way to some amazing architecture notable of our fair city. In the distance was the John Hancock, masonry church basilicas, old brick apartments and new ones. There was a lot going on. To the side of me, out of this view, there was a small crowd of post office employees on break getting their food fix from a "roach wagon". You know those pick up trucks with the quilted-looking stainless steel cabs (Okay, catering truck). Restaurants have modernized this idea by simply packing up heated/cooled mini pick ups with their restaurant food. You can find a lot of these around the campus at Northwestern Hospital (one of the Italian places had a good meatball sandwich... but my favs are from Soprafina and Costello's - in that order - so get one if you're near those places. Or take me to lunch and get me one).

A roach wagon has been around forever. I should know. My Dad owned one when I was a kid. I remember he used to have to charge the battery in the truck everyday in the winter. He just plugged it into an outlet in the garage wall. In the old days battery chargers would often electrify the entire truck. I'd sneak (along with my sisters) into the garage to steal an RC out of the truck. Only when I went to pull up the heavy steel door, I was jolted with electricity. It didn't stop me, let's just say I built up a tolerance. That is until I learned to simply unplug the truck before touching it.

I'm writing all this simply to walk you through the artistic conundrum of what to paint! oy vey. I chose to to paint the above scene. As I sketched it out on my cold press paper I realized I forgot my paints! *Sigh*. I think I'm going to draw in the roach wagon to make it more interesting. I'll be sure to post the finished product if it turns out. Now that I have you on the edge of your seat as to how I'll creatively express my view of the above scene...I'd like to invite you all to the Annual PAPC Exhibit. Reception is April 4, 2008 @ the Palette and Chisel, 1020 N. Dearborn 5- 8 PM. It'll be a hoot and a holla and you can see how I'm progressing (I AM improving- and style takes time folks). Have style? Come to this event. Need some style? Come to this event. Remember to shout out, it's good to hear from ya'll.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Psychic Blackness - The Glass is Half-Empty Today

Today, for reasons unknown, the psychic blackness in my mind overflows. On days like today, I’m proud to say, that I’ve managed to cope in healthy ways; work out at the gym – hard, spend some time rough-housing with my kids (or as Indi calls it “rough-houseling”). I paint. I enjoy sunshine and inclimate weather. Gray and cold is a stupid combination. Sometimes I like to eat - something smooth and sweet or savory and hearty. OK, cupcake or cheeseburger… both are in the diet red zone.

What is psychic blackness you nutcase? Pyschic blackness is an overarching force precipitated by poor circumstances that cause your brain to drive on the fear-track. It temporarily changes you from an optimist to a pessimist of the venomous kind. If I weren’t a mature woman I’m sure I’d be drooling in a dark corner rocking back and forth.

My dad is dying in hospice care. He is being cared for by my youngest sister, Abbey. He’s suffering. He can’t breathe. He’s wondering why it takes so long to die. I concur. I haven’t spoken to him in 10 years… and only then because guilt asked him to attend my wedding. There’s something mystical going on there regardless. My mother-in-law was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s fortunate in that she has a small cancerous lump that requires a lumpectomy and radiation therapy. Pfft, radiation therapy sucks. My own Mom had it and now she is extremely vulnerable to heat and the sun. How sad when one can’t go in the sun to warm your face and shoulders. Bad news comes in threes right? (or is that death… I can’t remember). My 1 year old came down with a case of pink eye. It turns out it’s not just pink eye, it’s pink eye with cellulitis. The surrounding skin tissue is infected. She required a shot of antibiotics and woke up with AM with her eye crusted shut again, left side of her face swollen. She spit her oral antibiotics all over me. Of course, we’re both wearing black. Antibiotics are a chalky white suspension. We look like white spot- spattered Johnny Cashes. Then the kids are picking on each other

I can’t exercise, eat, shop, talk or rationalize this blackness off of me today. My mind is vulnerable to other unfinished business too. It’s like a flood of longing. Maybe if I just run outside in the snow, nude, and get back in the house I’ll feel better. It may come to that kids. I’m all for creative coping tools. Maybe that will silence the kids’ bickering and I’ll go back to being regular old pensive.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Welcome New Family Member

While Plein air painting this past Saturday morning, I was packing up my gear to high-tail it outta there (cold and a bad day in the "office"). Lo and behold I saw something small and twig-like crossing my path. It was a sizeable (8 inches) salamander of all things! Crawling through icy, wet mud. A one-eyed eastern striped salamander. I did a double take. Thank goodness it was moving slowly. Being the wuss that I am I dumped my water reservoir and let "spotty", as we affectionately refer to him now, to slowly crawl inside. I threw some dead leaves in there for good measure.

I arrived home announcing a "surprise"! My 4 year old thought I was great for bringing her a pet. I was excited to show the kids. My 1 year old kept saying "no like, no like" and didn't want to even look at it. To be fair, it looked kinda slimy. I can only imagine that a 1 year old thought it was exactly that: moving slime. Yikes, I would "no like" that too. The great news here is:

1) The kids like it (well most of them)

2) My wussiness in not picking it up paid off. According to my Google search, the State Amphibian of Illinois (aka: eastern striped salamander, aka: spotty) emits toxins that are harmful to humans. I have no idea how harmful. But I'm glad I didn't find out while driving home in traffic on the Kennedy.

3) Bitchin' exit strategy.

What's amazing in all of this how much a good deed really pays off. You see, as Spotty is toxic, I and the girls don't have to doddle around and hold him or pet him. He likes to burrow himself in dirt, so he's kept in a large fish tank with mulchy dirt from our garden. As the dirt already has grubs and creepy crawlies, I don't have to buy food or feed it. In fact, when I put spotty in his habitat he immediately burrowed and was undetectable. This is a built-in exit strategy. The girls won't be physically seeing him often so they will soon forget he's taking up space in their play room. If I ever have to send him back to the swamp I can do so with minimal collateral damage. Darn, I'm good. All you skeptics can stop asking "then why have a friggin' pet". Duh, because kids like it!

Oh, one other bonus. If the kids get outta line or drop the f-bomb I can always threaten that they'll have to lick the salamander. (Like in the episodes of "The Simpsons" where Homer licks a toad and goes on a psychedelic trip). When the kids are teenagers they'll probably do it just to impress their friends. Maybe there's a sedative quality. Maybe mommy needs to lick the salamander? (Uh, er? - moving on...) Seriously folks, the toxicity is minimal. They secret a toxin behind their hind legs. If a person touches this small, hard-to-get-at area, then ingests it somehow (eating w/0 washing their hands) it could be harmful. How harmful? I can't seem to find that on Google (gasp!*!).

Use your boobs for a good cause

Finally ... La Leche League started marketing bras. They've been around for how long? Breastfeeding is such a wonderful motherly right of passage. There was a time when it was shunned by the medical establishment (a mere old generation before us). So what do these bras look like? Hmmmf, here's the best one, and it has underwire. What were they thinking (milky hooters with underwire?... maybe if you're huge). But hey it's black, woohoo! Sidebar: I'm sporting a milk factory in my profile photo to your right - thank you very much. But my nursing bra was flame red or cerulean blue thanks to my fav nursing bra designer Eve Alexander.
There was a story in the paper -(here in Chicago) approximately 4 years ago, about a mom who was nursing her inconsolable infant in a health club nursery. The manager of the club asked her to stop. Say what? The manager was a woman too. There was a lawsuit - that got settled out of court. Legislation passed 3.5 years ago making it legal to nurse in public in Illinois. So girls, keep fighting for your girls - yes, the gravity-challenged ones. :-)
Now that La Leche is marketing bras -- I'd like to poll my audience: Who among us has used their hooters to make a buck or two? (free drinks don't count) ;-)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Just to let you all know you can access my blog by going to

This is not a RSS compatible site. You will continue to get your RSS blog feed from This will most likely be temporary as I will, eventually, be using to post my art (and not bore you all here :-)