Monday, December 25, 2006

Carrots left behind

Santa has come and gone. My 2-year-old nephew shows me the remainder of the carrots the reindeer left behind on his front porch from the night before. In his tiny hand, he shows me the teeth marks that remain on the half-eaten carrots.

He was so worried Santa would get stuck in their fireplace. But he made it just fine. --We all did.

Oh the magic of Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve


I just spent most of my morning and part of my afternoon digging around the tape with my fingernail looking for the end so I could tape and wrap gifts that looks like a one-armed-blind-person has wrapped.

I'm out of tissue so the shirt I am giving my brother looks quite bare and cheap, folded in that large box. Except for the tags attached, it almost has that used look to it. I'm out of gift tags so I'm writing on the wrapping paper. Every other gift is missing about an inch of wrapping paper on the bottom because I underestimated how much to cut. As I neatly placed the many items for my college-age nephew in a box, I thought so long and hard for ... now looks like a lousy idea so I added a $20 dollar bill along with it to make it look more valuable. The earrings I am giving to another, wrapped in tissue without a box looks like I found it in my own jewelry box. How old am I? By my wrapping job, I would guess about eight.

Oh, I know in the end, when I go to bed tomorrow night, I will look back on Christmas and think back to the wonderful day. They will hardly notice in the excitement of opening presents that my gift wrapping wasn't just right. Inevitably, someone will accidently open the wrong gift addressed to another. And another gift will have gotten thrown out by accident when someone becomes over zealous throwing out the wrapping paper to clean up the mess.

Every year I vow to plan sooner. To buy gifts through-out the year. To take more time with the gift-wrapping. Each year comes and goes... and I still haven't made good on my intentions.

I admire those who had their shopping done a month ago and who have time to decorate and have clean houses and perfectly wrapped gifts and entertain guests.

One year in my early 20s, I decided to make cookies. Bad idea. After spending about $80 in ingredients, I ended up only giving out a pathetic plate of 4 or 5 cookies to each person. "Those cookies cost me about $5 each!" I wanted to tell them... and I probably did tell them.

When I was 6 years old I gave my mom a box of love . She opened it up and said, "Shawn, there's nothing in this empty box." I said, "Sure there is! It's a whole box full of love!"

She still has that box. If I had known she would keep it a lifetime, I would have decorated the inside of the box a little bit nicer.

I'm off to the stores for a tiny bit more shopping. And I've procrastinated enough... wishing you all peace and joy.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I've been tagged!

I've seen others tagged to answer a questionaire, but this is my first time and by two people at once! Crunchybits and Doodlestreet both tagged me so here goes:

Four jobs I have had that were not related to my art field:

1. SALES. I sold children's records door to door all over the country. Boise, Idaho - Des Moines, Iowa - Salem, Oregon - Portsmouth, Virginia - Downey, California - Spokane, Washington - Houston, Texas - Lincoln, Nebraska - Bartlesville, Oklahoma - Edina, Minnesota - Reynoldsburg, Ohio. I hated it. Especially on cold rainy days. Sometimes I would sit on the curb and draw out my experiences in comic strip form. One time I won a free shirt for selling the most records in a single day. That was the only reward I got for going door to door. Oh yeah. My other reward was building lots of character in me.
2. RECEPTIONIST. The Company was Strategic Pacific. That was the hardest two words for me to try and say over the phone. I could never get it right. Over and over and over again, the telephone would ring and I felt like Lucy trying to say Vitametavegmin. "Good morning. Spacific Strategic, Suspific Pustific...". My job lasted only one very long day.
3. SALES CLERK. When I was a young adult, I worked at JC Penneys in Olympia, Washington. They only gave me 12-hours a week to work, so I starved, living off air-popped popcorn until I finally got a job at a film company. (well. actually. I was pretty hungry during that job as well).
4. MASSAGE THERAPIST. I would carry my table and lotions and music and sheets to people's homes all over the Bay Area giving massages. Eventually I quit because I needed a massage.

Four websites I visit daily:

1. Apartment Therapy. I LOVE this website. You can visit it ten times a day and there will always be something new posted.
2. Ikea Hacker.
3. Design Sponge.
4. Print Pattern.

Four places I have lived:

1. Pennsylvania (Norristown and Lafayette Hill)
2. Texas (Lindale)
3. Washington (Olympia, Tacoma and Fife)
4. California (San Rafael, Fairfax, San Ramon, Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa)

Four movies I can see over and over again:

1. The Secret. (I've seen this already 3 or 4 times in the past four months).

2. Fifteen years ago, I watched Hook three times in 11 days. So many people I know hated that movie. But it touched something in me and kept grabbing at my heart and soul.
3. Goldie Hawn movies always makes me laugh.
4. Kathy and Mo (not really a movie but an HBO special) "you look vera vera perty tonight".

Four TV shows I have enjoyed as an adult:

1. 30Something
2. Melrose Place
3. Survivor and The Biggest Loser
4. Lost

Four TV shows I have enjoyed as a kid:

1. The Brady Bunch
2. The Mary Tyler Moore Show and later the Rhoda show.
3. The Carol Burnett Show
4. The Doris Day Show

Four places I have gone on vacation:

1. Boston, MA
2. Oahu and Maui, Hawaii
3. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
4. Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Four favorite foods:

1. Cheese
2. Salty things and chocolate covered salty things, like pretzels. Or chocolate covered nuts. or chocolate covered peanut butter. I'm not particularly fond of chocolate on its own.
3. Barbecued filet mignon or salmon
4. Artichokes and avacados and salads, too

The people I am tagging:

Janet and Monica

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Lady in Red

This adorable illustration was drawn by the talented doodlestreet who so graciously sent this to me while I was in NYC and gave me permission to post it. It's a picture of me in my red coat walking down the streets of New York City. I brought the red coat because everyone suggested I wear the red, and I suppose I did stand out more for the cab drivers to find me, but there were times, I sort of felt like maybe I looked like a clown.

I'm not sure what it is with me and airplanes. The last time I flew back from New York, we had an emergency landing in Salt Lake City. This trip, while flying into JFK, we were only a few feet from landing when the huge plane with double aisles, thrusted its engines and the nose of our plane raised it's nose high in the air and we took off again to keep from a near miss of hitting another plane taxing in front of us on the runway.

But, in the end, we all landed safely. The driver holding the sign with my name on it was late to the airport so I had to wait for him on the curb outside. I never saw the sign with my name on it. I had my camera set to take a picture.

I stayed at the Park Central New York in room 1608. I recommend staying here and requesting my room. It's close to everything and from my hotel window, I could see Times Square and all of it's bright dazzling lights. It reminds me of Vegas.

Besides being close to Times Square, I was around the corner from the Ed Sullivan Theatre and just a few blocks from Rockefeller Center and Central Park. And just two doors away from the Carnegie Deli that has the largest sandwiches you will ever eat!

There was so much hustle and bustle outside that I never went into my room very early. The energy of that City kept me awake for hours much longer than I usally am. Each night I would wind my way down the crowded streets to take in the experience. I can't seem to get enough of that City. I can't express in words how it feels to suddenly turn a corner just beyond Radio City Music Hall and see the famous christmas tree in Rockefeller Center for the first time, and feeling it catch my breath. --It was enormous and beautiful. I reached for my camera to snap a quick shot of the tree, when I lost my grip and it slipped out of my hand, crashing down hard onto the concrete sidewalk.

One very significant piece broke off. I sat down on the bench near where it broke and stared long and hard on the ground, hoping to see a reflection of the metal. I looked under the table. And then down into the grate in the ground. Nothing.

To console myself, I walked into the NBC store close by but instead, the security guard at the door pushes me to step back. "We're closing." So I backed up outside and stared into the glass window into the store.
She repeated her words, "We're closing!" I looked back at her and mouthed the words "Can't I just peek in the window?"
She opens the door an inch away, "What'd you say?"
"Can't I stand here and peek through the window?"
"Of course! I was telling the folks behind you that we're closing."


I wander around a bit more. And then return to the place where I dropped my camera. I was hoping to see something glisten from the reflection of the lights, but instead the only thing I see is a young couple in love, sitting on the same bench I sat early, staring at her brand new shiny diamonds in her engagement ring.

"Yes! Yes! I will marry you!" she cries and they embrace. Both are crying. And laughing. And staring at the sparkling ring.

I decide to let them be as I continue along the sidewalk back to the hotel. Grateful they created a new memory for me on that bench I only sat on just 20 minutes earlier lost in my search of the broken pieces to my camera.

After work on Friday, I hailed a cab in Chelsea to a friend's home near Times Square. The doorman had a key waiting for me and I carried my bags up to her apartment. And from there, I walked a few blocks to catch the subway. I was supposed to get off at W4th Street/Washington Square to transfer to another train, but when we arrived, I remained standing there on the train, holding on to the pole. We stopped at the Spring Street station and I stayed on. Finally, I decided at the Canal station to jump off and catch a train back to W4th Street/Washington Square. Eventually, I found my way back and got off at Broadway and Lafayette and headed down the street towards Houston to meet her in a neighborhood book store. I loved SoHo and its cobblestone streets and its eclectic neighborhoods in lower Manhattan.

It was a weekend filled with cabs, buses, trains, subway and cars and lots of walking. I missed the rickshaw ride. The weekend ended in Long Island visiting my precious relatives. I'm so happy I didn't fly home on Friday to spend the weekend back in California to start my christmas shopping because the gift of my experience there this weekend, was truely the best gift. And there's still time to shop. But, I'll think about that tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm off to New York City!

I'm somewhat set for New York City. I have a small suitcase packed. I am about to embark on a brand new experience I have yet to experience on my own.

I will arrive at JFK airport alone and then look for a driver to have my name spelled out on a small sign waiting for me at baggage claim. I hope.

I have seen this so many times in the past but I have yet to see my own name on those signs. This will be the first time I will have my own name printed out. I wonder if they will spell it correctly.

I might say, "Take me to Carnegie Hall!" because I will be staying across the street. If I am lost, I will ask, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" I wonder if anyone will answer: "Practice, my dear, practice!"

On Tuesday morning, I will roam down to the lobby and out on the street and hail a cab to go to my new place of work for a week. I will sit in the back seat of the cab. Take in the views of the towering City out of my window. Count and make sure I have enough money to pay the cab plus a tip. I will try and pretend to look confident and experienced. I will say say "thanks!" to the cab driver and then push the button to the 5th floor. I will step out into our office and wonder if anyone will recognize me from last September or the Quilt Market in Houston in October and know I'm an employee there, too. But, a west-coast employee.

Will I feel bashful? Oh sure, I will! A little bit afraid? Yup. Wish me well.

As I will be the lady in red. If you happen upon New York City and see a woman in red... give me the thumbs up and if I return it back, then you know it will be me.

Monday, December 4, 2006

My Childhood Diary from the 70s

A month in the life of me when I was a kid:

March 1: Roxy and I spoke in our fake language while at the store. No one understood, not even us. Watched "Here's Lucy" at 9:00 nite. It was about Lawrence Welk, the old ladies Love him!

March 2: It rained all day. I watched one little bird all by himself, drenching wet, on a little branch in a tree outside my bedroom window, watching all the other birds, 'cause his little wet head is all twisted around looking at them. But he is all by himself and this makes me sad for him.

March 3: Got my B-Sting shot. Me and Terry went to the Library. I got out 3 Books: "Addie Pray", "Go ask Alice" and "Life with Mother Superior." Saw "Paper Moon" again. Starring Ryon O'Neal & Tatum O'Neal (his Daughter).

March 4: Went to Coddingtown. Me, Mom, Kelly, Roxy and Uta. Roxy bought a 45 record of the Defrancos, "Abba Ca Dabra", and "The Most Beautiful Girl". Met a crippled boy.

March 5: It rained today. I got tested in Self-Defense today. I got graded V+ in the Side Kick today. Whatever that means! Overall, I got a V+, V, V. I goofed up in one of them. I forgot to scream and I had to think on it.

March 6: Saw Jimmy Boriolo. This family has 10 boys. No girls! Their house smells like the bathroom does. Had homework!

March 7: Ate dinner at Annette's house. Taped songs from, Carpenters Album. Had fun.

March 8: Me and Roxy played Hocky, on Roller Skates, and used Brooms for a Hockey stick, and a coke can for the Puck. Had fun. Uta & Roxy came by.

March 9: Going to Lake Tahoe! Mom rented me ski-pants for 3.00. Bought me some mittens for $3.99 and Bought some ski-boots for $5.00. Left at 6:00. Me, and Annette sat in camper the whole time. Outside of Placerville we ate at "Sams Restaurant." Real old fassion! Then went to Crazy Horse Ranch. Stayed there for the night & we squaredanced!

March 10: Me and Annette went to a tree-house. Neat-oh! Then went all over the place! Fun! Then left for Heavenly Valley. After we skied, we went down hills on sleds, discs's and intertubes. At night, went to Recreation at Harrahs, cassinos in Nevada. It was cold that night!

March 11: Went skiing from 10:30 - 4:30. Went on JUMP TRAIL. It's only for ski-patrolmen! Left for home at 10 - 6:00. Got home at 11:30. Ate Dinner at Denny's in Roseland at 8:00.

March 12: School! Blah! Had club meeting, today, Had B-Sting shot. I was mad at Roger today. So was Roxy. We had a war. It was fun!

March 13: After school, me, Annette, Roxy, Roger and me played ARMY. When me and Roxy were captured, we had crackers to eat. Because the day before we stuck them in there.

March 14: Went up in Roxy's attic! We found a cubby-hole that fits about six people. We mite have it as our club.

March 15: Me, Wally, Roxy and Roger went to see the show, "Magic Boy" and "adventures with Huckleberry Finn." It was great. Got my bird today. Watched the Waltons! It was good. I haven't missed one yet. I am going to name my parakeet, Pete.

March 16: Went to Blue and Gold dinner, with Wally's cub-scout. Had fun. Annette came with us. Our table won for the best decorated.

March 17: Saint Patrick's Day! I sent the nite at Roxy's. Julie and Grama spent the nite at our house. Had fun! Played blindman's bluff. Made a tent and slept in it. Made Breakfast for her mom. Then we went down to the FAIRGROUNDS. Saw Horseshow. Came back. Played Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and Wally was Joe Harper. We made a clubhouse out of sticks and grass. We babysitted Roxy until 10:00! Then her mom picked up her. First time taking a bath in 3 years. I've always taken showers. It was fun.

March 18: Rode Mini-Bike around and skied down Roxy's hill on our shoes. Then went iceskating all day. Well, 3:00-5:30. That's as long as it is. Grama spent the nite, again. Got all washed up for school.

March 19: Made our clubhouse in Roxy's Bedroom! Well in her closet. The closet, is neat-oh! It's pretty big, too! We're going to add on, pretty soon. Annette didn't come, so we won't show her until Thursday.

March 20: Adding on some rooms in the closet! 2 offices, 1 meeting Rm, and secret hideout Room for Roger. Roger busted Roxy's door frame, when he was chasing us! Later on, at my house, Roxy and I played EMERGENCY!

March 21: Made MoonRock Cookies. They're good. Janie and Corey Porter came by. They brought us, WHOPPERS, and FUDGE CYCLES. Delicious! Had fun.

March 22: After school, cleaned my room, and Birdcage. Then Wally, me, and Annette were riding on John's tractor, Annette said, "I'm alway's going to ride this!" I told her, she couldn't. Annette went home, without saying, Good-Bye!

March 23: Got my B-Sting shot. Christina and Kevin came over. Did some spying and Detective work. They left at 6:00. Didn't eat until 7:00. I have a sore throat. I think I'm catching a cold. Watched Tom Sawyer on TV.

March 24: Me, Larry, Roxy, Kelly and Wally went Bowling. Went to Rose Bowl. Lanes didn't work. So the man blamed us. And we got KICKED-OUT! Sat on Water Beds, waiting for Mom. They cost 200 Dollars! Expensive! Frames only cost 30 Dollars. But that's a lot!

March 25: Cleaned up house, Nana and Aunt Sister and Buzz came up. Me, Roxy and Wally cleaned up their volkswagen van up. It's like a house! Neat-OH! Then went to Movies with Annette. Saw "The Worlds Greatest Athlete". It was great! Comedy - about Nanu could do any thing in sports good. TOO GOOD! Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha

March 26: Didn't go to school. Too bad a cold. "Death Valley" was Great! Didn't play today, since I was sick. Got Bee Sting Shot.

March 27: Went back to School. Used all my Kleenex in two hours! I can't breathe in any of my noses.

March 28: M.Y.A. came to our school. (Mexican Youth Association) And held an assembly about how they got to be, where they are now.

March 29: In gym, ran 6 Full minutes. Average - 10-11 laps. I made it 12 laps. Almost 13.

March 30: Diane Pedrotti's slumber party! It wasn't as good as Sallie Leaches! Went to bed at 4:00 morn. Had a FUN TIME.

March 31: Came home at 10:00 morn. Everyone did. Woke up at 20 minutes to 8 o'clock. Cleaned up my Room. Then Roxy and I SPYED ON These two boys. They finally saw us an HOUR LATER. And started chasing us! We hid in a secret room in our cave-like clubhouse. They couldn't reach us.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

California in December

This photo shows exactly where I spent a great deal of my afternoon today. I spent it with my lovely mom enjoying the warm outdoors. It was such a beautiful and relaxing Saturday... well, until she discovered she lost her right shoulder pad.

"Oh nooo!" she exclaims while pounding herself all over. "What if it was when we were in that beautiful Tuscany home and someone thought it was a kotex?!"

I stared at my mom with eyes the size of tea cups. I completely understood her fear. What if someone saw it fall from her and then seeing us enjoying our time together, they didn't want to ruin the moment, so they kicked her shoulder pad under a table or into a corner to save herself?

Then I thought, "Mom, at your age, be proud that someone would think it was a kotex!"

My mom thinks the shoulder pads are the best things to ever be invented, though most haven't seen them much since the 1980s.
"Be proud you have your father's shoulders..." she says to me. "I don't have shoulders. Just arms growing out of my neck."

As lopsided as she felt, we spent a day, admiring Christmas decorations and talking to wonderful people... I like to call them unknown friends.

Everyone was out and about putting up Christmas decorations. It really was beautiful.

It confirmed my idea of posting holiday photos for December's Inside Peek, so if any of you would like to participate and send a photo of your holiday decorating, I will post it. (And, thank you by the way, for you brave souls who shared your refrigerator photos). Next month, through-out the month of February, I will post the inside peek of medicine cabinets...

Also, thank you for those who have left me comments. It really is rewarding to have a connection out there in cyberspace. It really does help to have a warm soul saying "i hear you" from across the miles.

I am feeling so grateful today. And my heart feels warm. And, you are a large part because of it.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Planning for New York

I just booked a flight to NYC.

I will be there all week on business and and at an office Christmas Party, but considered extending my stay through the weekend for some added fun.

So, I contacted a friend who lives off Times Square.
"You going to be around that weekend?"
"I should be around, but I may be going to CT because it'll be the last weekend before the Simon's leave for the holidays. So, we may have Christmas then."

(That's Paul Simon and wife Edie Brickell, so who can possibly compete with that invitation?)

I contact a friend in Springfield, New Jersey.
"Hey, you gonna be around that weekend? I'll be flyin' out of Newark on Sunday."
"You are not going to believe this, and I hate to say it, but I have to go out of town, again, on Dec. 14, and I'll be gone for the weekend."

I call my aunt in Lindenhurst, Long Island.
"Are you gonna be around that weekend? I'd like to take the train in and see you and the cousins." (who live in nearby towns).
"Oh sure! We have nothing on the calendar and we'll be in town that weekend. But you should think of flying in and out of JFK because it's so much closer. Just 10 minutes from Rockville Center."

Okay. So I book my flight in and out of JFK instead, and before I receive the email confirmation, my phone rings.

"Shawn? I hope you didn't book your flight yet. I just talked to Camille. She's flying to Florida that weekend. I'll talk to Jerry and Annette and Linda and see what's up with them, but it's so close to Christmas, they might be going out of town themselves. I will be here, though. Would you be bored with just me? And what time is your flight? 5:45? That's dark then and I don't drive in the dark."

"Yes!" I reassure her. "I will miss everyone, but I still want to see you. I can take a train or a towncar or a bus or cab or a shuttle to the airport."

We hang up. And a cloud of unsettleness comes over me. I'm excited but feel a bit of apprehension and worried that I might have booked my flight too soon without really waiting to formulate my plans more.

If this hick-up is an indication of what I'm about to embark upon in a few weeks, then I better settle in, put on my gloves and buckle up for some unexpected adventures. Life has a way of repeating itself.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Faith and Fate and Friends

I was 19 years old when I spent a hot summer in East Texas at a bible boot camp for young teens. (That's my own affectionate name for it).

I wasn't raised religious. I was born catholic and attended catechism when I was small, but my parents pulled us out when the church began charging money for it.

When I was 17 and on a summer vacation traveling across country with my family and friends, I picked up a tattered-up little paperback book and read it while sitting in the back of a Dodge Van traveling somewhere between California and North Carolina.

This lovely book made me see things in an entirely new way and would undoubtedly change me forever. The book was called Mr. God, this is Anna. It's the story of a 5-year-old girl who's found wandering the streets of London who turns out be quite extraordinary and insightful. It hit such a cord with me and so I longed to have that same close friendship with God as she did.

It was because of that book and two years later, I decided to spend my summer at a bible boot camp in East Texas. I was like fish out of water. Everyone carried around leather bound bibles with their names engraved on the cover. I had a paper-back catholic teenage bible called THE WAY that had faces of teenagers inside the words. I didn't know any of the songs they sang, I didn't know how to pray and was confused by bible stories... thought it was Gepetto living in the belly of a whale and who was Jonah.

One morning we were called into a meeting and were told we were going to be put on teams of four and venture off into small towns around East Texas for a long weekend called a "Faith Outreach". We would be entirely on our own with nothing but a small overnight bag with a change of clothes and $5. We had a week to start exercising our faith by praying in $5. We could only use the $5 dollars that came to us in an act of faith.

I prayed for $5 to come in every single day. Every morning when the mail would arrive, I would eagerly check my mailbox and every morning, I came up empty-handed.

A week later, on the morning of the Faith Outreach, I saw the white school bus circle around up the drive to take us on our adventure. But I still hadn't received my $5. I was embarrassed and disappointed and felt foolish having my small overnight bag packed with clothes. I was convinced everyone would see right through me and know I'm not loved by God as much as they were.

"Does everyone have their $5?!"
I felt my face sting from shame. I raised my hand and was relieved to discover a handful of others who also didn't have $5. We were told to bow our heads and pray once more and then go to our mailboxes to find the money. Sure enough, there was an envelope in my box addressed "To Shawn from Jesus" and there was a $5 dollar bill in there. I recognized Roger's handwriting on the envelope.

Off we went on our adventure! I was let off in the oldest town in Texas called Nacodoches near the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University.

Along with three other girls, I stuffed my overnight bag inside the girls' locker room and then walked blocks and blocks down to the K-Mart and ordered All-You-Can-Eat fish sticks for our meal, bought baby ruth candy bars for dessert and umbrellas on that rainy summer day and before we left K-Mart, we realized we had spent nearly all our money.

Back on campus, we met some girls who invited us to stay with them for the weekend.

One of the girl's boyfriend was named Basillio, but they called him Bo. He graciously offered us his Pontiac Trans Am to drive around in during our short stay.

Once the weekend was over and after the white bus picked us up along the highway and drove us back to the bible boot camp, we sat around in a circle and told our stories to each other how we learned faith in our unforgettable adventures. Sitting there in a glowing silence, feeling good how we were all protected and learned of God's faith, the leader passed the offering basket around asking us to thank God by putting the $5 back in the basket. We didn't have our $5. So it cost us another $5 to thank God for teaching us faith. Imagine that! $10 dollars. It took me weeks to pay that off.

Fourteen years later, I become best friends with a girl who lives nearly 2,000 miles away from where I live and who somewhere in a conversation, tells me she went to Stephen F. Austin and one of her room-mate's boyfriend was named Basillio, but they just called him Bo. And she talked of some girls staying in the apartment one hot summer weekend and Bo loaning them his blue Trans Am.

Did I learn about faith that weekend when I was 19? No, of course not. But fourteen years later, I DID learn we live in a small world. And I learned more about fate than faith and even though we didn't meet up that weekend and become fast friends, we did so years later.

I guess what I'm tryin' to say is... I believe that some friendships are meant to happen to each other and no matter the time or the place or the distance in years, if its meant to be, it's meant to be. Its the faith in friendships and the fate that brings it altogether that is more powerful than a 3-day outreach on the backroads of East Texas. And this Thanksgiving I am grateful for such a friendship as this.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My car turns 66666 miles tonight

I don't know why, but this sort of thing thrills me. (I also get excited by seeing the digital clock read: 12:34 or 3:33 –– even 7:23 because that's my birthday. And I don't even like math!)

I was driving home from work this evening and became fixated on my mileage. I wanted to pull over to take the photo, but I was on a dark and windy road and it didn't feel safe, so I snapped this photo, driving around a sharp corner instead.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Me in my bathing suit

So I walk into a Marin County Physical Therapy Office for an appointment. A Seattle friend had recommended a wonderful physical therapist 45 minutes from where I live. "He's wonderful, Shawn!" she told me. "And be sure and wear your bathing suit underneath your clothes because he might want you to sit in a hot tub or put you in a pool to swim laps or sit in a sauna during your session".

"WOW!" I thought. "This is going to be fun!"

Marin has a reputation of being perhaps a bit more holistic, intuitive and spiritual than it's neighboring counties.

I happened to be in the area, so I just walked in to make my appointment.

When I told the receptionist who I wanted to see, she pushed her mouth to the far side of her face and whispered, "he's only working part-time these days." She leans in closer, darting her eyes back and forth, making sure no one is within listening ear: "He's only seeing celebrities at this time..."

I rolled my eyes at her in an amused disbelief and then focused them on the long line of physical therapist's business cards along the counter. From Hellerworkers to Reiki to Reflexology to Sports Medicine. How could I possibly decide which specialist to choose?

My eyes finally stopped and softened upon a woman's name, Sophie. Such a sweet, beautiful name. I picked up her card and plunked it down on the counter saying, "Then I would like to make an appointment with Sophie."

She stepped back and said in a distant voice, "I don't make appointments for Sophie, but I'll give her the message when she's through with her 1 o'clock appointment and she'll call you."

"Fine", I said and drove home.

An hour and a half later, she called me. She was comfortable and inviting as I expected her to be. We made our appointment for the following Tuesday.

Sophie was on time when she greeted me warmly from the waiting room. She lead me down the hallway into one of the rooms and I sat across from her in a chair. She seemed so genuinely interested in me.

I began to tell her about my injuries and how it hurt when ... I did this ... or whenever ... I did that ... and she was extremely kind and gracious. Just as I knew she would be with her beautiful name. She asked me a lot of questions. Her face showed such concern and even sadness when I expressed to her my story.

I glanced down at my watch and worried she wouldn't have enough time to do any bodywork on me as my 50-minute appointment was closing in on us, when she asked, "Can I give you a cup of tea? A glass of water?" I remember being told to drink lots of water before and after a massage because the body can become dehydrated after bodywork, so when she left the room to bring my water, I believed this was my Que to quickly dress down to my bathing suit.

She returned shortly after, and without a change of expression continued asking me questions about my life. I smiled under my breath, thinking, "How "Marin" is she!" Finally, she asked me, "Are you seeing a physical therapist?"

I said, "Well, no. That's why I'm here."

She looks down at me, sitting there, stripped down to only a bathing suit, and without blinking an eye, or a flicker of an expression, she handed me her business card and said, "I'm .. a .. clinical .. psychologist."

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Yes, you can

This video is for you to watch and listen. If you feel your luck is down. When you feel the world owes you something. When you feel uninspired and feel like quitting, please don't. You really can go on. You're much stronger than you know.

I believe in you.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Inside peek of things

I'm sorta bashful to mention this other blog I started, but then I thought, maybe you can help. For the entire month of November, I will post a photo of the inside of a different refrigerator each day. In December I'll pick a different topic for us to peek inside.

I think it'll be fun to post an inside peek into other people's lives. If you would like to take a photo of the inside of your fridge and send it to me, I won't publish your name with the photo. It'll just be yours and my own little secret. But it would help me out and I just think it could be fun.

You can email your photos with the subject title: Fridge Photo to If you would rather peek inside and not participate... I welcome your visit there anytime.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Mimi and Starbucks

My friend Mimi supposedly has a very difficult name to spell.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Houston Quilt Market

Here are a few of the Dick & Jane designs I created.

I have been so busy! I just returned last night from the International Quilt Market in Houston. It's a huge wholesale trade show event of the year for quilt shops and other quilt and fabric business people from all over the world.

There was an estimated fifty-thousand people roaming around nudging one another, elbow-to-elbow, viewing the newest and latest quilts and fabric.

I really enjoyed my time there. I also happily bonded more with the folks in the New York City office who I met and worked with last month. That was a treat in itself. Getting to know them on a more personal level outside of the office. They are all such wonderful folks and I felt as though I have known them for a much longer time.

And besides that, it was particularly fun for me because my own fabric pattern designs were being showcased. It was so encouraging to see the company I work for being so well-known and so popular at the Quilt Show. I felt so proud to be a part of them. It was a dream come true for both of us. They got the license for Dick and Jane and I got to put it all together. It was fun taking the artwork and recreating it into something new and then finding it later being transformed onto fabric.

I so hope it is a success for them.

It was an amazing show. I found it inspiring to see so much talent and creativity under one gigantic roof. It didn't feel overwhelming. It felt very comfortable. Though I felt a bit out-of-place among quilters ... (I don't sew or knit)... I did feel in-step with the pattern designers. And as I looked from one end of the George R Brown Convention to the other end ... through all the many people down the long aisles, I thought, "I am exactly where I am supposed to be right at this moment."

I really believe that.

I know I have said that before, but it's like a boomerang. This belief doesn't wander far from my thoughts. It keeps returning to me over and over again. That I am at the right place in my life. And that feels really good.

Tonight, I am feeling ultra creative. Here it comes again. The vague feeling that I'm about to embark on some really wonderful creativeness. For a large amount of the day, I felt as though I was sitting in a waiting room, waiting for this incredible idea to erupt forth. My thoughts are swirling around inside my head at a very fast pace, yet hardly visible and just beyond my reach. I can't keep up with it. I want to quiet myself long enough to explore what's there so I can grab it when I see it. But alas... there is housework to do and my suitcase to unpack and bills to be paid and ringing phones to answer and I'm enormously tired and Halloween is here and there is not enough time in the day to be still and invent my creation.

Obligations have made me feel so guilty until a quiet voice inside me said, "You are doing enough."

I am doing enough. I am doing all I can. I am doing the best I can. And I need to believe in that voice. I want to believe in that voice because I want to trust myself, my intuition, my spirit, my creative side and the power of my thoughts.

The time to create will come when it is ready to come.

So tomorrow when I awake, I will just keep my regular pace and believe in the dream.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The leaves are turning

I love this time of year. The temperatures soar near the 90 degree mark and I love having picnics in the wine country. I spend most of my weekends here. Taking in the sunlight because I know in another week we will have less of it.

This weekend, I didn't have anything planned, which was a nice surprise. I trimmed tree branches, mowed the lawn and pulled weeds. I went on outdoor picnics both days and stared out onto endless vineyards, listening to laughter of others who had the same idea of relaxing picnics in the wine country.

This is my home.

Its so beautiful this time of year. And, all I want to do is be outside in it. So. Off I go.

"I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air." ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Don't be so hard on yourself

If you made a mistake today. Or you're feeling like a failure of sorts, please don't. We all make mistakes at one time or another. Things don't always happen the way we have dreamed them to be. Even pyschics get it wrong some times.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Charles Schulz

I adored Charles Schulz. Did you know that precious, unassuming man always had his personal phone number listed in the telephone book?

For five years, I lived in an upstairs apartment drawing every day about my life and feelings and insecurities and daydreaming of becoming a comic strip artist. I would be drawing and then stop and look out my window and send my wishes and hopes and dreams across the park and roof tops. Never knowing, that one of those roof tops I stared at was the roof top of Charles Schulz's art studio!

He and I lived in the same town and it wasn't unusual to see him out and about from time to time. But there was a moment, where our lives crossed and I will never forget it for as long as I live.

I was in a book store flipping through some Calvin and Hobbes comic books, when he gently tapped me on my shoulder and suggested I buy a Peanuts book instead. I looked over at him, gasping, recognized him instantly.. blurting out, "Hi Mr. Browwwn!"

I was wearing a t-shirt with my own comic strip on the front and pointed it out to him, saying he was my inspiration. And being so nervous, I jumbled up my words and expressed I wanted to become a comic stripper because of him.

He smiled and seemed to connect with me and invited me to his studio a few days later.

It was a dream come true.

He gave me a tour and showed me his latest strip he was drawing. He pulled out an unknown, not-yet-published Mutt's comic strip and said, "Patrick McDonnell will have the best strip out there" and I felt warmed that I was seeing all this before it went to print.

He spent a great deal of time looking through my comics and spoke kind and hopeful words to me about them and offered suggestions. Though I arrived there in such a cloak of vulnerability, his kindness wrapped a woolen blanket around me and warmed me to the bone. I believe he recognized parts of me in him and felt a kindred spirit between us.

He personally sent my rough comics out to his syndicate. He even called me a few times. Left messages on my answering machine that I still have on cassette tape. He wrote a couple of notes to me of encouragement. Gave me an autographed book called 40 Years of Life and Art. And, if I wasn't so bashful and if I believed in myself more, who knows what would have happened with my comic career with the help of Charles Schulz? I know he wanted to help me. That's the way he was.

I certainly don't have any regrets today of what happened then, because I'm exactly where I want to be, and I no longer carry the same dream of drawing a comic strip as I once did.

When he died, my heart broke. I went to his Memorial Service and sat up on the left-hand-side of the balcony and cried my eyes out. Santa Rosa felt more empty.


About a year after his death, I was showing a friend his studio.
"I don't think this is a good idea, Shawn", she said.

"Oh, c'mon. We'll just peek in the windows."

I pulled into the driveway at One Snoopy Place and the electronic doors swung open and let us through. We parked near the front door and peered into the windows and his studio still looked just like it did when he was alive. I was thrilled!

"Look over there! That's his drawing table!" I shrieked, pecking the window with my finger.

My friend was still nervous, looking around. "Isn't this private property? I think we should leave now..." she said.

And as we got into the car to drive out, the electronic doors didn't open for us.

We were locked inside the gate!

We called Security. They couldn't help us. Their contract ended two weeks earlier and they didn't know who had the code or key to let us out.

It became dark and cold and we sat in my car with my engine and heater on to keep us warm while my friend had that look of "I told you so" on her face.

After a couple of hours, headlights from an oncoming car blinded us for a moment as it drove up through the electronic gates and they opened for us. I darted out as quickly as possible never looking into the oncoming car. I'm sure if I did, I would have seen a face of an angel.

Back at home, she and I talked about our experience of being trapped inside, but it wasn't a scary experience.

We actually felt comforted and safe being there locked inside the gates. Which isn't surprising, really.

Because he was comfortable and safe.

And the world is different without him in it.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Rewriting Burt's autograph

I'm just a kid spending the weekend at Napa's Silverado Country Club when I glance up from collecting lost golf balls when I see this mustached man who recently caused a stir, posing nearly nude in a centerfold. I feel dizzy seeing him in real life. He and his girlfriend, Dinah Shore are chatting with James Brolin about appaloosas when I asked him for his autograph.

I am giddy with excitement when he scribbles his name down for me, but am horrified by what I see. His name isn't legible at all. The kids in school won't believe that I actually got his autograph!

In my childhood brilliance, I rewrite his name over and over again until I write the way I imagine his signature to look. I carry his autograph inside a sandwich baggy to protect it on my way to school to show my friends. They stand around the tetherball pole staring at his neat penmanship with envy while his real autograph is wadded up in a heap of rubble inside the garbage can.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Mac is unstable

I love my Mac, but it's been giving me some problems. It's not even two years old and for the past few months, I've hauled this large computer to our local Apple store three times already for the Mac Genuis to take to test it out and each time, he says, "it tested out okay" and then deletes everything off it and reinstalls my system.

Each time I lose everything I have.

I miss my itunes. (especially the ones I paid for and the free ones I download on Tuesdays that I never made backup copies of). I miss even more my personal photographs I store in iPhotos. Losing email addresses of friends, letters I have saved, personal illustrations and designs and then, what really catches me by surprise, is the loss of the bookmarks of blogs and inspiring places I visit during my free time.

I really do miss these unmet people who's lives have touched mine in such an intimate modern way.

I miss the woman back east who kept posting her home improvement projects online. And the artist's work who walks a mile out of town everyday to draw a picture of what she sees. There was a couple in Seattle who was trying to sell their house and I enjoyed reading their progress. Did they sell it? I won't ever know now. Another blogger who kept me entertained by drawing the backs of people's heads while she attended church. And, another blogger who was stricken with breast cancer. The last time I read her blog, she was going in for another round of chemo. How is she now?

The season has changed from Summer to Fall. I can feel it. The air next to me is warm but when I extend my hand, I feel a touch of cool nipping at my fingers. Soon the leaves will turn from green to yellow and red and orange and then slowly drop to the ground.

And this season begins another cycle. A new season. A new season of blogs I will enjoy and bookmark until the computer might crash again and the cycle begins again. I know this sounds silly (even to me) but I really do miss those whos lives have touched mine over the internet even though they may not be aware they have. And the days feel a bit cooler because of my loss.

Friday, September 22, 2006

New York, New York

I'm home from the Big Apple without a hitch! Well,--unless you call experiencing an emergency landing in Salt Lake City a hitch (!)-- everything else went smoothly.

I LOVE New York City. It really is an amazing city. I loved every single moment I was there. Hailing cabs, walking, riding the train, walking and walking. Did I say walking? Looking up was so powerful and it made me dizzy when the clouds passed over the large towering buildings above, looking as if they were toppling down on me.

The first few days I lived and worked in Chelsea. I worked with some really interesting people and I felt so comfortable working there. When my business trip was over, I spent the weekend in a large 5-story brownstone in Midtown, where on a warm evening, we sat on the rooftop talking and taking in the view. The Empire State Building seemed so close, I felt I could reach out and touch it.

On Saturday, we walked from Bryant Park to Rockefeller Center over to St Patricks Cathedral and Trump Towers down to Central Park and Tavern on the Green to the Dakota, over to Times Square and wandered through the large Macy Building and the Empire State Building. It was amazing, zigzagging around people as we walked the busy sidewalks and then stopping to turn a corner and suddenly discover we're on a street I've only seen in movies and tv.

A year ago, I received a pair of my first expensive polarized sunglasses. And seeing through these wonderful glasses, I see things so much more clearly. The colors appear more intense. For instance, this morning I saw clouds in the distance that I couldn't see when I had my sunglasses off.

And that's what New York did to me. I saw things in a newer and clearer way. It gave me a new perspective of seeing life and this world of ours we live in that I would not have normally seen. I'm still unsure of all the feelings stirring about me, since my experience there is still new. But I know I'm not the same.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

What's all the buzz?

My very first illustrations on fabric have come in from the Mill!!!

Several days after I made my wish that I wanted to see my illustrations on fabric, it came to pass. I drew these girl silhouettes and now it's in a zillion different colors!

The vestas say "buZZ around" but originally everyone thought it was "buGG around" because the z looked more like a g before I changed it.

I thought that was so cute! "BuGG Around". Though it doesn't really make any sense, unless you drive a VW Beetle as I do.

So now I think of myself bugging around town instead of driving.

I fly out to NYC in a week and a half to work in the office there a few days and meet my east coast coworkers. I look forward to this new adventure.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Nana lived in a San Francisco neighborhood across the highway from Candlestick Park and Little Hollywood in Visitacion Valley just above a barber shop and nextdoor to a dry cleaners. I LOVED visiting her. She'd serve me coffee loaded with sugar and milk and didn't worry she was stunting my growth. We'd play black jack with real money she saved up. She always left her kitchen door open and the wind would whip around and feel so chilly, but she would wipe the sweat off her brow complaining of hot flashes.

Her boyfriend was named Meryl. And he smoke tipperillos and drank Olympia beer. Nana smoked Kools and drank burbon.

One day, Nana happily agreed to let my cousin style her hair and give her a permanent. When it was time to pull out the curlers, all of her hair came out with it! Nana laughed so hard when she saw herself in the mirror.

That afternoon she went shopping for a wig.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My place of work

I'm really loving my new place of work. It feels so comfortable. I LOVE the people there. The compatability is extraordinary. I love coming in each day. I feel so blessed.

The art studio is filled with fabric. Some fabric came in today that I designed. I stared at it when no one was looking. I felt it with my fingers. My heart felt so warm, I felt as though it was about to melt into my skin.

It was something I wished for and it came true.

I pinched myself to see if this was a dream. And then I realized it still is a dream. A dream come true.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Yay for my sparkling floors

My floors are finished. My unpacking is not. The loveseat in the photo belongs in another room. But it is heavy because it's a pullout bed and the heavy bars underneath have already scratched my floors. So for now, it stays there, until some strong men help carry it to its destination.

My large TV still sits on the floor as well. Everything feels in a disarray.

If I could only wave a magic wand.

Or, even if I felt better, I could plow through my lists of things to do. But instead, I just keep adding more to my list.

I love going to a place to work. There, I can focus on things at hand. Here, at home, it's like I am wading through thick mud. I feel as though I'm losing my footing under my To Do List that is weighing me down. I can't seem to climb my way out of it.

I just stare at all the things I need to do. And then. I add more to my list.

I need to call a plumber. My car is dirty. I have weeds everywhere in my yard that I need to pull. My house is a mess. My backyard lawn has turned yellow. I have phone calls to return. I'm out of shampoo. I need to buy groceries. I need to do laundry. I have emails to return. I need to bring my lawn mower to the shop. I need to take a truckload to the dump. I'm still having computer problems. It's the second time, I have lost everything on my computer in two months. (Apple thinks its my logic board failing). I'm sick about it. But not nearly as sick as I've been feeling.

I am thinking it wasn't the beef jerky I ate afterall.

I'm still going through numerous medical tests and I hope we can find what it is so I can start the road of recovery. It's been five long weeks of intestinal distress and after two separate antibiotics later, I still fight a fever from time to time. oy.

I know when I feel better, my list won't seem so overwhelming. There is nothing I like more than to cross things off my list. Now I'm just feeling cross about my list.

But. Enough about me. How are you doing?

Friday, August 4, 2006

Feed Your Wild Side

Click on it to see a bigger image.

"FEED YOUR WILD SIDE" is the slogan of Jack Link's Beef Jerky.

You must go visit their website! I believe chunks of the fury "big foot" character shown on their site was stuffed inside my bag of Beef Jerky I ate.

The nurse called me this morning.

"How are you feeling?"
"Still having problems..." I said, "Has the test results come in yet?"
"Yes, " she said. "They turned out normal."


Ok. So, I'm happy I don't have any parasites dwelling inside me, and maybe that's all they tested me for. Perhaps it never occurred to them to test me for BOTULISM.

Seeing the photos, I feel sick all over again. The expiration date on the beef jerky is Sept 2007. I just hope I don't expire before then.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Shaken by the Jerk in Beef Jerky

So. How was I supposed to know that the beef jerky I ate while in Texas was rancid? Within days, it had turned various shades of green with white spots and sprouting leaves like a bean stalk.


My friend just called and described the remaining bag of beef jerky to me over the telephone. It was the bag I was snacking on during our roadtrip to Austin.

I started to feel sick the morning I left Texas.

I flew home to San Francisco, touching down in Houston for an hour layover while suffering with a chill, tingly skin and what doctors call "intestinal distress". Eight days later, after too many nights waking up in a drenching sweat, red splotches on my skin, light-headedness, blurry vision and painful jerky abdominal cramps, I made an appointment to see my doctor.

"He can see you on August 3rd".
"But. It's July 24th."
"There's a 3:45 pm appointment on August 3rd and if you don't take it, that appointment will be snatched up in ten minutes, " she said, without any empathy.

"Can you have the doctor call me?" I asked.
Huge loud sigh. "What's your number?"

I thought he could suggest something to me over the phone. He called me several hours later and after I told him my symptoms, he asked me to come in immediately and I went in the following morning for lab tests and a prescription for antibiotics.

I felt miserable. I was beginning a new job. I was having my floors refinished and my house was still bare with furniture. Plus, the fumes were harsh to breathe in. We were experiencing a record-breaking heatwave and It was 112 degrees outside and inside my nearly empty house varied between 94 and 97 degrees. I also had a birthday through this sickness. I tried hard to cover up my uncomfortableness but it wasn't easy to always hide my stomach shaking around like a small earthquake. I kept pretending everything was fine.


We just had an earthquake. I'm not kidding you. As soon as I wrote the word, it hit. If I didn't just see the Seismic Graph online, I would have thought I was experiencing another abdominal cramp.

I've had a few different lab tests and though I haven't received the results yet, I'm now quite certain it was the green beef jerky sprouting leaves that made me sick. I'm on my 15th day and just now feeling more comfortable in my body.

Well. Until about five minutes ago. Before we had an earthquake and shook me up again. So, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go stand under a doorway for a bit. Or at least until I need to scurry down the hallway again to visit the first room on the right.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I will light more candles

I was always the kid who saved her favorite food item for last at the dinner table --only to have my sister lean over quickly, stick a fork in it and push it into her mouth before I could fathom what she was doing.

You know that lovely smelling candle I’ve been saving from Illuminations? The one I placed near the window? It melted. And those fragrant soaps I’ve been saving in a basket in my bathroom have lost their scent.

I think the impulse to save something good for a later time is perhaps a signal for me to enjoy it now. Good things I enjoy will come for me later. I don’t need to hold on to them now.

It feels almost shameful to me to have done this to myself. I want to use and enjoy what I have and give away that which I am not using or enjoying anymore.

In the movie, Sideways, Maya blasts Miles for hoarding a '61 Cheval Blanc (one of the greatest Bordeaux) for a special occasion. She says to him, "I think the day you open a '61 Cheval Blanc, that's the special occasion."

For now on, I am going to make a conscious effort to create special moments in my life by enjoying the things I have. I will light more candles. No more waiting for that special moment to come to me. Because for the most part, we often don't recognize a special moment until after it has happened and we are looking back.
Why wait a lifetime to use the special things in your life when we already know a lifetime is too short to wait.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's Blazing Hot!


It's a scorching 109 degrees here in Dallas and it's 9 pm. The earth feels so parched. The locusts are singing their songs. Belting out really loud at times. (or yelling!)

I fly into San Francisco tomorrow. My aunt who lives in San Bruno tells me, "Oh Shawnee, it's so hot, but I got on my sweatshirt!"

I've been having such a wonderful time despite this intense heat.

We took a road trip down to Austin for a few days. We stayed a couple of nights at the funky, yet trendy Austin Motel.. in a cool room near by the pool on S. Congress Avenue.

Each morning we'd walk next door to Jo's Coffee Shop and the first morning we ordered a hot coffee, but this morning we ordered an iced-coffee and I think we walked with our backs so straight from feeling proud of our order, I think I pulled a muscle.

We met my San Francisco pals, Wes and his wife, Kyle at Barton Springs. I felt like I was living in the past watching the people swim. And, especially when a tired out cowboy rodeo clown introduced us to his dog saying, "He starred in Billy Bob's movie THE ALAMO." And then invited us to spend an evening with him watching the Play on the hillside overlooking Barton Springs: "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers", which we politely declined.

taught me something he picked up since he's moved to Texas.

He said, "Folks can gossip as much as they want about somebody, just as long as they finish their sentence with: "Bless their heart".

For example: "Can you believe Miss Lucille was bendin' over at the local Piggly Wiggly when her dress hiked up and it exposed her "Sunday" undies and it's Tuesday afternoon?! (sigh). (a few moments). "Bless her heart."

It's still blazing hot. But, I will miss this place and the people here when I go.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Julie

Today is Julie's birthday.

She is, happily for me, a good friend of mine.

Years ago, in our early twenties, and before she was married to Buddy, she and I travelled around the country in a mazda with a broken-down air conditioner during the summer that lasted several years.

I remember while living in New York City, for a time, we hung out with the then unknown singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin. Shawn had one of those flats that had a toilet in her kitchen. And, I remember Shawn bathing, while I sat on the toilet while Julie heated water for tea at the same time.

Julie and I didn't have much money back then. We'd practically live off a slice of cheese pizza a day.

I remember one time Julie was opening for another band and as we drove through the City, she waved her dress out the window to iron it out.

Another time, while in Tulsa, we were selling records and Julie never felt comfortable selling records. Ever.

And, one day, I offered to write BUY SETS on the back of her eye lids. I really did believe customers would read her message sublimely and buy an entire set of records. Dear sweet Julie truly believed in me. She handed me her eye liner pencil and I wrote BUY on on eye lid and SETS on the other and to this day, still feel a sting in my heart when I remember that day. Within moments, all Julie had were dark smudges around her eyes. And, I don't recall Julie selling a single record because of my bright idea.

Julie is my lifetime friend. She saved me in so many ways. She is my walking angel in my life.

While nearly murdered and lying in a hospital bed in Olympia, Julie rushed to my side and spent the entire night with me before my mom and sister flew up to take care of me.

I flew into Dallas yesterday.

I met Julie in East Texas. Being back here and coupled with her birthday, I can't stop thinking of her. I spent an evening with friends in the outskirts of Dallas tonight in a small town called Midlothian.

Maybe it's the hot summer night. Maybe it's the way the trees grow out here. Or the stars shining so brightly in the night sky. Maybe it's because Midlothian reminds me of a chapter in the bible.

I miss you, Julie. In a very huge way.

May your birthday bring you all the tender joys and magic life can bring.

You live in my heart forever.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

. . . And then there was no furniture

I just read a newspaper article about a woman in Washington who was reported missing from her husband. The police found her body buried under a huge pile of clothes inside her house after a 10-hour search. Her husband believes she fell while looking for the phone and because there were so many piles of stuff, the man couldn't find where she fell.

She suffered from a condition called Hoarding.

It was estimated that several tons of debris was piled up inside the house and the police's heads kept touching the ceiling as they climbed over the clutter. They didn't even see her until their second search of the home.

I am not a hoarder by any means, but I have been wanting to get rid of my extra clutter before the summer ended.

Now I've been forced into it more quickly than I expected as I'm getting my floors refinished beginning tomorrow morning.

Within the last few months, I've been wanting less clutter in my life. It's an interesting phenomenon. It's happening all around me. Because I know, once I put my sight and heart on such a thing, the universe begins to set this in motion and helps me out.

It all began about a week and a half ago, when my hard drive crashed.

I lost everything. Every email, bookmarks, email addresses, artwork, photos, itunes, stories I had written. Invoices. Bank statements. Everything. Those who have experienced this, can relate to this huge, sudden loss.

I had planned to back things up, but I wrestled with the notion that I would have more CDs and more CDs meant more clutter. So I held back and now have ... nothing.

It was horrifying to me when it happened, but I've dealt with the loss and now enjoying my bare hard drive. I plan to keep it clean and organized and back things up on a more regular basis.

And, when an 85-year-old man on oxygen, gave me his used treadmill, a soft-tub and other things last summer, I reluctantly took them off his hands, worrying if I had any room to store them, but over the weekend, he apparently decided it was worth $3,000.00 and wanted the money immediately.

Instead, I packed them up and delivered his gifts back. Immediately.

It feels good to have those things out of my house. I am enjoying the extra space.

Once my floors are redone, I am only going to bring back inside my house only the things I really want. And the other things will either be tossed in the garbage, donated or sold in a garage sale.

I'm really excited about this new place of calm I'm inviting into my life.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Neighborhood Invasion

Remember before computer games and Columbine, this seemed normal seeing boys walking around carrying guns? I just looked out of my front window and was startled to see them. I rarely see children dressed up in fatiques playing army anymore.

Or. At least, I hope they are playing.
I'm still gonna drop and roll past my living room window, though. Just in case.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Midnight Sun

Do you remember that old Twilight Zone episode called THE MIDNIGHT SUN? I feel like I've been trapped inside that tv show.

If I remember it correctly, there was some sort of catastrophic event that happened and knocked the earth off its orbit, sending it closer to the sun. It became grossly hot. Everyone left New York City looking for colder climates, except two women who decided to live out the rest of their short, hot, sweaty lives in their old apartment building. The sun never set. I remember one haunting scene of an oil painting that was melting with the heat and a thermometer that burst.

It is nearly midnight.

I keep looking at my paintings. Are they melting? It is 90 degrees. Inside my house.

I've lived in this house for nearly three years and I don't remember it ever being this hot in here before. I have fans going throughout the house. But the fans just stir up hot air and blow it all around.. like the hot desert wind I felt last week while in Las Vegas. It doesn't cool you. It just makes you lethargic.

My paintings are fine, though. Nothing has melted down. My thermostat is still in place.

A friend of mine who lives in muggy Tennessee was shocked to hear I don't have air conditioning. He told me yesterday that he'd rather live in a single-wide trailer with air conditioning than in a palace without.

I'm thinkin' if I lived in a single-wide trailer and the air conditioning went out, I'd just be a gal living in a very hot single-wide trailer. So I would take the palace any day.

I know it won't stay this hot for long. The fog will roll in from the coast in about a day or two and it will cool down.

The evenings will even begin to feel a bit chilly.

As I recall watching the ending to The Twilight Zone ... I remember the older woman died of a heat stroke and the younger woman also eventually collapses, but when she awakes, it is dark and snowing. She was just dreaming. The earth was actually heading away from the sun!

I just felt a chill!

No. It's not snowing. The fans are finally doing their job. I went to look at the thermometer and it's now a cool 88 inside my house.

I think I'm gonna be okay.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Floors and flying

I spent a great deal of this afternoon pulling up more carpet.

It's the final room of the house. This extra middle bedroom stores my cds, my old videotapes and cassettes and books. So it's just a room filled with ... stuff. Lots of it.

There was a brief moment of insanity when I thought I could pull up a strip of carpet and use the heavy large bookshelf as a straight cutting edge for me. So I kneeled down and pulled up the carpet and my large heavy bookshelf, decided to tip over backwards instead of standing firm.

I watched in horror, as it crashed loudly down to the floor, splintering framed glass pictures in a zillion pieces, breaking the leg off an end table and breaking endless CD cases.

I tried to grab it in midair but it only took me quickly with it to the floor.

It reminded me of when Ann wanted to fly.

We were teenagers. She asked Brook if she could hang on to the back of his truck while he drove away. She imagined her legs lifting up parallel to her head as if she was flying.

It sounded like a great idea at first. But, being smarter than dumb kids, we decided her legs wouldn't probably lift like that and would just drag along the street.

Her life was probably saved that night.

I miss Ann. I wonder if she still dreams of flying. (And I hope she hasn't tried)

Friday, June 16, 2006

A drinking cup for "people on the go"

"Begin with another's to end with your own"
~Baltasar Gracian, Philosopher

In the 1950s, fast-food restaurants added drive-thru lanes so people on the go, no longer had to park their cars and walk into the restaurants to order their food. Later banks borrowed that idea. And today, there's all sorts of Drive-Thrus. While in Las Vegas, I noticed a couple can get married in the Drive-Thru at The Little White Wedding Chapel.

There are tons of ideas out there.

Maybe you'll spot it by seeing a bad idea and turning it into good.
Do you like the small envelope as a drinking glass or can you improve it?

All it takes is just one innovative thought and you can change the world. That's all it takes. You can do it. I believe in you.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Viva Las Vegas!

I am in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay enjoying a small part of the How Conference. I am really happy I am here. I feel more inspired and more creative by coming here. I bought a ton of design/creative books and have enjoyed their fabulous pools and I feel refreshed.

The Ebay conference is also going on here. I've noticed that both groups of people have distinctive looks and I can spot one from the other in an instant.

I also noticed I've had absolutely no desire to hit the casinos this time around. Okay, granted, I am not usually a gambler -- except for taking risks with my dreams.

But in the past, I discovered that all it takes is walking through the casinos, and the allure and excitement of hearing that endless stream of coins tumbling out of the machine and seeing the lights flashing and the clanging bells going off, that it creates such a buzz of fun and magic that and I am drawn into the gamble.

This trip, however, I noticed it is especially quiet. No hype; no excitement. It's because the casinos no longer have coin-operated machines, and instead, use a bar-coded ticket which replaces nickels, dimes and quarters with paper tickets. I have no idea who is winning or losing. What was once a sensory-overload, has now turned into a rather quiet and dull (though still smokey) walk through the casino.

Despite this quiet hush on the casino floor, apparently people are putting more money into the machines than ever before, because it's coinless, they don't have a sense they're playing with real money as they would, by scooping up the coins from the tray and shoving them back into the slot.

But, for me, the allure and the excitement has dramatically lessened and my guess in regaining that experience might be harder to come by than even the jackpots.

Friday, June 9, 2006

My past is paving my future

I was reading through my 1988 journal when I came across this bank deposit slip of mine tucked in between the pages. This was ALL the money I had on February 26, 1988.

And, as poor as I was, I remember feeling okay about my life. I felt rich in my poor state.

Well. Okay. Not rich. But, I figured I had enough.

On one side of the page was a list I had written:

Goals for 1988:

Make $17,000 a year.
Design greeting cards.
Buy an Artograph Projector.
Buy a Video Editing Deck.
Videotape weddings.

On the other side of the page was the lyrics to "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" by Timbuk3.

I was an optimist.

. . . . . .

The only thing I accomplished on my list that year, was buying the Artograph Projector, but eventually, I DID make $17,000 a year and designed hundreds of greeting cards and bought a video editing deck and even videotaped weddings among a slew of other projects.

But. It all came about because I believed in myself and I didn't let a lack of funds stop me from dreaming.

Today, I am not rich by any stretch of the word. But I am a self-employed artist who is finding her way in this world.

I believe at this very moment, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

And I believe my past, though checkered by some struggles and seemingly failures, has made my present life much more appreciative and productive.

Monday, June 5, 2006

An Unwanted House Guest

I’ve had all I can stand and I can’t stand no more
Get out of this house

~Shawn Colvin

Okay. If there's one thing I hate more than Oprah's 1998 movie, BELOVED, it's finding a rat in my house. But if there's one thing I hate more than a rat in the house is finding a large alligator-salamander-lizard in my living room.

My adorable little sweet Mollie brought this lovely gift to me just now from the backyard. (Or maybe she stole it from the zoo).

I have no idea what it is, but the moment I let out a blood curdling scream, it slithered quickly behind the large and heavy armoire where my TV sits in my living room.

Can someone come over and save my life?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Illustration Friday: Cake

A lady from a large grocery store chain with a bakery department called me on the phone from seemingly nowhere and asked if I would like to come in for an interview to be a cake decorator.

A cake decorator! I never had ever thought of being a cake decorator before-- except maybe once when I was using my Easy Bake Oven as a kid. It sort of appealed to me in that moment.

"When do you want me to come in?" I asked.
"Anytime today, " she said. "Just come into the Manager's office and ask for Char."

So I did. She took one look at me and said, "You're hired".

It felt pretty nice to being hired so quickly and easily on the spot. But then my smile and feeling good about myself faded instantly when she said, "You'll be making approximately $8 an hour, just four hours a day, then we take out $40 of union pay out of your paycheck each week so you'll gross $120 and with taxes and benefits taken out, you can probably count on about $78 a week. Sound good? Plus, you get one floating holiday off your first year and then after that you get your birthday and anniversary date off. Come in on Monday, to pick up your uniform"!

On Sunday, I walked into that large grocery store and told the young teenage manager that I could not take the job.

She just jeered at me and blew so hard, the bangs of her hair flowed back and forth by her breath and said, "Well, it's a GOOD THING you didn't quit AFTER we paid the money for you to attend Cake Decorating School!"