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TEXTURA 30X30 CM · 240 PPP

It happened again.

You are not going to believe this.
I can't believe it.
I can't even find the appropriate word.
maybe it's...disappointment.
or, uh maybe, frustration.
Anger? no, I'm too tired to be angry.
What's a good word for......being pissed off and just DONE with it.
Anyway, to get to the point.
Remember that commissioned painting that I just did for a CO-WORKER?
The one that she asked me to do and said "I'll even pay you!"
to which I had replied, "Well of course you'd pay me! I'm not going to do it for FREE"
and she said, "I'll pay you , like $50.00!"
and I said OK and that I had to finish the one I was working on but I'd do it.
So I finished that other painting (which I got paid less then I'd make working at my current job for 2 hours)
and then I asked this girl if she still wanted a painting and she said "Yes! I'll give you $50!"
and I laughed and said OK, because I could use the money.
Then my co-workers threw this girl a baby shower.
They came to me and told me that she had a jungle theme for the nursery and they were buying her bedding etc.
So they asked me to do some paintings (plural) as a shower gift.
They said they would pay me or I could give them as a gift myself.
Well, how dumb would it be for me to not give them myself?
So I did it. I spent my an entire weekend painting them when I would have rather just gotten her a giftcard.
I mean, we are not that close.
But I painted one of a monkey hanging with bananas and another with a lion with a baby cub on his head and a bigger one with a zebra and a giraffe...
They matched the bedding and I felt like I was infringing on copyrighted stuff so I never even took a photo of them.
but these are the photo's I worked from -

everyone said they looked just like the characters
and when I gave them to her she was thrilled!
Then I told her that I had a few more paintings to do (for Christmas gifts) but I'd get her dog painting done before she delivered the baby.
She laughed and said OK!
(She's due this February.)
So I finally I got it done and gave it to her a week ago last Friday.
Remember this?

and she seemed happy.
I told her to just put the money on my vet bill, that it was getting UP there and I needed to get some money on it.
She didn't pay me that day but that was OK, I mean she didn't know I was going to bring it that day.
Then all week last week...nothing.
So I thought, OK we get paid on Monday, maybe she's waiting for payday.
Although if I was in that situation, I would have told the person that I would pay them but needed to wait until I got paid.
Well, Monday came and she didn't even look at me. 
I felt awkward and one of my friends in the reception area told me to just go ask her.
But there were always other people around and I found it hard to find the right words.
So my friend said to send her a private message Facebook.
That evening I thought about it but I while I'm very passive aggressive when it comes to people I actually know
I felt that was just too passive and besides, who knows how often she's on Facebook?
I could be waiting (fretting over it) forever.
So the next day, first thing in morning, I walked up to her and said
"Hey, you know that painting that I painted for you?" and then I rubbed my fingers together in the universal sign of money.
She laughed and kinda blushed.
I then said, "I'm getting 3 of my dogs groomed today and I could really use the cash, so if you could just pay me instead of putting it on my account.."
She then said that she only had a debit card but maybe she could get some cash off of that?
My co-worker/friend piped in and said "Yes, they can do that for you up front!".
So she went up front and I waited a few minutes and walked up there and she just handed me some folded bills which I promptly stuck in my pocket and said "Thanks!" as she walked away.
Then my co-worker/friend said "I can NOT believe that she only paid you $30!"
I said "What?" and I pulled the cash out and looked at it.
Yep, $30.00.
I'm done.
I worked on that thing a little bit every night for a week and then on the weekend I put in the Season 3 DVD of The Walking Dead and painted that while the show played all weekend long.
The ENTIRE weekend.
Yep, I'm done with doing paintings for people I know.
....or they will have to pay me first.
and then I'm STILL not sure if I will do it.
I'm just going to work on my book.
and what if she finds this and reads it?
That's highly unlikely...and if she does,
Like I said, I'm very passive aggressive.

Masks: The Great Gorgon

I started taking pottery classes in January 1993, a few months after moving back to the Detroit area from a two-year sojourn in Northern California. I had always wanted to do pottery and finally found my opportunity through adult education classes offered through the local school system. The classes were taught in the instructor's classroom - he taught high school studio art, including sculpture and jewelry making; the facility was a veritable treasure trove of tools, from typical pottery equipment to drill presses, propane torches and sandblasters, most of which I eventually used.

Medusa Rondanini
I tried everything - the wheel, the extruder, the slab roller, the spray booth. I learned about making molds and glazes. I eventually made a cast of my face (with the assistance of another student) and started exploring its potential to express some of my feelings about the experiences I had had in the past few years with my family and during my marriage. Early on, I started a series of dozens of masks, the first of which was an image of Medusa inspired by the Medusa Rondanini, a piece I had studied in college and graduate school. Like a portrait of Julius Caesar I had studied during the same period, I was utterly flabbergasted at the beauty of the piece and it haunted me for years.

Medusa I
Although first mask I made was, not surprisingly, a Medusa, I didn't realize that would be the outcome when started. Utterly ignorant of the best way to pursue this particular process (I would later learn that a relatively thin - 1/4" - slab will do the trick, with some work), I shoved wads of clay into the mold, squishing them together. When the clay had shrunk somewhat, I pulled it out but twisted it a bit, which caused the wad that was the tip of the nose to become skewed. The piece wasn't what I wanted - event though I could "fix" the nose, there were significant fissures between the wads which made the face look coarse and unfinished to my eye (even at that stage) - but I realized it might make an interesting piece nevertheless - remembering the Late Hellenistic or Early Augustan sculpture. I fabricated three snakes and attached them to sinuously embrace the entire face. I finished the piece with a raku firing, using Crackle White glaze for the face and Copper Sand for the snakes.

I pursued the idea further, making three more masks, one very similar to the first, two others with the snakes more complex and inter woven (Medusas II, III and IV, left to right, above), while I was pursuing other mask concepts. I decided to try a really ambitious piece based on Athena's aegis. the goatskin that the Greek goddess of war, weaving and wisdom wore over her breastplate, on which the head of Medusa was placed when Perseus gifted her with it.

I rolled out a thick slab of clay and cut away the center to insert a mask. I added over two dozen snakes, arranged around the face but also extending out onto the slab; I hoped, by anchoring the snakes in a complex network around the face and onto the slab, it would help "knit" the piece together structurally. I also punched three holes in the slab so it could be bolted to a slab of wood for display. The piece - rather miraculously, considering the stresses inherent in its construction and its size and weight, survived the bisque firing. I glazed it as I had most of the others - Crackle White for the face, Copper Sand for the snakes. Additionally, I applied, using the Copper Sand, stars and phases of the moon across the slab.

Firing the piece was a bit of a challenge - due to its weight (very heavy), overall dimensions (a large flat slab) and construction (the mask inserted into the slab and the applied snakes). Amazingly (and this is no exaggeration), the piece survived the raku firing and subsequent smothering in combustibles, only cracking when it was laid to rest on a work table in the studio. (It would be expected that, considering the thermal stresses inherent in a raku firing - in which the bisque-fired clay is  rapidly heated to over 1900 degrees F and, even more quickly, cooled to the ambient temperature, that complex pieces would crack.)

To finish the piece, I collected the sections of the piece and glued the reassembled work to a piece of heavy canvas. Using a propane torch, I scorched a piece of scrap plywood I had cut to size with a table saw. I drilled holes into the wood to correspond to the holes I had made in the slab, as well as four additional holes to take bolts for hanging wire. I took a large piece of black window screening and scunched it up, painting areas of it with copper spray paint, and bolted that between the wood and pottery slabs. I added heavy-duty hanging wire to the back.

This piece was featured in my first solo show, at Planet Ant Coffee House (now Planet Ant Theater) in 1995, as the centerpiece of the "Girls Gone Wrong" wall.

My Question for Today....

Why are people who rescue dogs called "Rescuers"
and people who rescue cats are more often called "Crazy" as in Crazy Cat Lady?
Just wondering.
It seems like strangers are more interested in talking to each other about their dogs
and yet get this guarded look about them when someone talks about their cat.
Even if they own a cat.
I mean, I've done it.
I've been at a check-out and had a cashier ask me how many cats I have as she's rung through my cat items
(food, litter, toys) and as I felt the stare of a customer behind me, I found myself saying...three.
Which is true, I own three.
Yeah.... OK, I have MORE than three but I do have three.
Of course in all fairness if someone asks me about what kind of dog I have,
I usually reply with the breed of whoever I am buying for at the moment.
"Oh, A Great Dane" as I buy the 40lb. bag of food.
"Oh, a Poodle" as I buy a little bed.
"Oh a little white fluffball". when I buy tiny sweater.
"Oh a Border Collie" when I buy a Frisbee.
"Oh a terrier mix" when I buy a guaranteed indestructible dog bone.
But really, people smile when I say I have a small herd of tiny dogs.
and yet they raise their eyebrows when I reply that I can count my cats on all my fingers.
Maybe I'm just defensive because the other day someone said I was a crazy cat lady at work.
I bit my tongue and held back mean retorts and
fought the urge to point out out that a couple of them actually live at the clinic

and just replied, Yep.
Still, it really bugged me.

Fall(ing) Leaves II: Menispermum canadense (Moonseed Vine)

The first time I saw this plant in my friend Trish Hacker-Hennig's nursery, I was just enchanted with how the beautifully-shaped shallowly-lobed leaves cascaded over one another to create a lovely green curtain. I learned about this plant - a little-known native vine - Menispermum canadense, or Moonseed vine - and met it for the first time at her native plant nursery in Ortonville, Michigan. I'm always asking Trish about new plants I could include in my garden; when I saw this vine, I knew I had to see if I could grow it and exactly where it would go in my garden - on a sunflower-themed trellis near my rain garden. I added it to my garden in 2012 and, by 2013, it was more than living up to my expectations.

This is a perennial woody vine that tops out around 18-19 feet. It can  travel via stolons, colonizing other parts of your garden, but has not done so obnoxiously in my yard. Unlike grape, it does not have tendrils but clings by winding around supports; the vine has been able to "reach" from the trellis on which I trained it across short distances to wind itself around other nearby structures. I have not yet seen any flowers on my specimen, but that could be because it hasn't matured enough to make the investment in fruit and flowers. The plant's common name comes from its crescent-moon-shaped seeds. All parts of the plant are toxic to humans. I need to do more research but I'm wondering if, like Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper), it is toxic to mammals but edible for birds. (I suspect there is something that can eat the fruit to aid in seed dispersal but I haven't been able to find any information on that as yet.)

The most interesting thing to me about the leaves is how the stem actually attaches to the mid-green leaf's underside at a point slightly inside the leaf margin. The main veins radiate out from that point. The prominent veins translate well to this medium, making a distinct impression in the clay. The lobed form is quite popular - I believe because it is reminiscent of most maple leaves.

When I first started observing the plant, I immediately associated it with a glaze with which I had just started experimenting - Arctic Blue, from Amaco's Potters Choice series. Like the Indigo Float glaze from the same series, Arctic Blue has a lot of green in it, although it is much lighter than Indigo Float. I immediately thought to pair it with my proprietary Mason Stain mixture - 50% Titanium Stain and 50% Green-Ivy Stain - for a recipe I refer to as "Spring Green". This stain really works well with the green undertones in the glaze.

I have been able to reuse these leaves to a certain extent but it is best to pick them fresh; they can be then be rehydrated for multiple use.

The Process
Once I've harvested the leaves, the first step is to roll out a slab of clay that's about 1/4" thick. I follow my usual procedure of rolling out the slab, pulling back the canvas to loosen the clay, folding the canvas back and flipping over the slab and canvas, pulling back the other side of the canvas to begin working on the clay. I use the flat edge of a metal kidney to "scrape away" the canvas texture (if you don't do this, you will not get as clear an impression of the leaf's veins, which can be critical with species with more subtle texture). I finish removing the texture by running the rolling pin over the slab. Now I'm ready to place the leaves for the next step.

My Dogs and I.....

are hating this cold and windy weather!
With the windshield factor being way like 40 below,
none of them want to go outside to potty...
except for Blue.


Don't tell me whenever.
Because whenever will take a good long time
and because whenever could become never.
Well maybe not never, I usually will do it, eventually
but I will wait until the last minute.
What in the Hell am I talking about?
Oh, a commissioned painting.
You need to tell me when you need it by.
After the last painting that I did for someone at work
I still had another co-worker who had asked me to do a painting of her dog.
A dog that has passed on and whom I had never met.
But this co-worker said that "whenever" was fine.
So I got my Christmas projects done
and now my co-worker is about a month away from giving birth.
So I guess Whenever is here.
I knew for a while that I had better get it in gear.
I had been doing a little bit at a time.
I like to paint in the day time when the sun is shining in the windows and the light is really good.
I hate trying to do it at night next to a lamp...
So that just leaves me the weekends
and, I'm finally done.
Here's the photo:

and here's the painting -

What I made last year for Christmas Gifts. (Dog Paintings)

I just realized that I never shared the gifts that I made this last year for Xmas!
I guess the new snowfall made me think of Christmas....
and that I kinda only like snow for Christmas.
Anyway, this is what I made for the two girls that work for me in boarding.
Taylor adores her little Elvis -

So I did a painting of him -

and Pam's furry family has suffered a couple of losses in the last couple of years 
and now she is just left with just her two dogs,
Rain and Princess - 

and finally Lily, my niece has a new puppy
a Dachshund/Shih-Tzu mix....or sometimes called a mutt.
I was very upset with Lily because she BOUGHT him from a Pet Store.
Most Pet Stores get puppies from Puppy Mills
and with so many dogs needing homes.....
OK, anyway. I can't hold it against her little guy.
His name is Lucius Fox
(after the Morgan Freeman character from the Batman movies. Lily is addicted to all things Batman)
So here's her pic of her puppy in the snow.

And the painting I did of him.

For some reason, I was unable to get a really good pic of it and I couldn't scan it
because it's covered in glitter, to look like sparkling snow.

So, that's what I MADE for Christmas.
The rest of my gifts I bought throughout the year.
I got my sister some really cool Smith and Hawkins garden things
when they were marked down after summer.
I try to remember to search all year so I can get good gifts at good prices.
But usually, I prefer to make my gifts, if possible.

Ruby, her Heart and the Van saga continues...

Do you ever share something on your blog and then when something else happens you feel you must share that too.
Because it's part of the story?
But you are worried that people are yawning and nodding their heads and thinking enough already!
So, here's the very last of the van saga and then I will move onto something much more serious.
Like my Ruby.
I took my Ruby with me to work today. I know that she's got some heart issues, she's on medication for it.
But I thought I heard a rattling in her chest and...well, something just didn't seem right.
I'm pretty focused on just her right now.

When I get to work this morning and there's a phone call up front in the office for me from the car dealership.

Now they want me to pay out of pocket for the towing.
Everything the guy said to me over the phone I repeated firmly and slowly back to the girls in the office as they stared at me with widened eyes.
"So you want me to pay out of pocket for the towing and then send in the receipt to the warranty place and be reimbursed?"
The guy replies, "Yeah. YES."
So, I tell him "Noooo. YOU need to send in your receipt and let them reimburse YOU"
He states that he told them that and they refused.
"So, you told them to reimburse you and they refused?" I repeat.
"Yes" he replies.
"OK", I tell him matter-of-factly. "Give me the phone number and the name of the person you talked to"
He hesitates and then gives me the info.
I went back to my office area and call the warranty place and talk with them.
Then I call the guy back, and it goes right to his voice-mail, so I leave him a message to email me.
He does and I send an email back to him as follows:

(Insert Guy's Name Here.) -
I spoke to Blank of Blank.
I told them how the battery light had been on in my van and how worried I was driving it, especially in this weather so I brought it to YOUR DEALERSHIP and was told it was fine.
I told them how the next day as I drove to work on River Drive, that my windshield wipers stopped and I could barely see.
I told him how the heat and radio suddenly stopped and how then the engine light came on.
I told them how terrified I was that I wouldn't make it to work and how I called YOUR DEALERSHIP, in a panic and afraid to drive it anywhere else.
So you guys called a towing company.
I told them that I hadn't even been sure that I had towing but that I was sure YOUR DEALERSHIP would have covered it, given the fact that I had been there THE DAY BEFORE!
anyway, he asked what the problem was
and I told him that you said I needed to pay the towing and I'd then be reimbursed but I thought that YOUR DEALERSHIP should send in the receipt and be reimbursed. and he agreed.
He said to mail this info to them:
my member #
the original receipt
and an explanation as to why they were not called.
then send it to:
Blank Blank Motor Club
Customer Claims Dept.
Blank Corporate Blank Drive
Suite # Blank
Miami, FL 33126

personally...I can't believe you are making me do all this legwork for you.
and to think that I had planned to purchase a Honda from you guys once I paid off this dumb van. Ha!
Jeez, if I had gotten into an accident because I could not see to drive with the bad weather and no wipers
I would have called my step-mothers attorneys, who she works for, and sued YOUR DEALERSHIP ass off.

So that's how my day started,
The guy did get back to me via email. 
Basically saying sorry for the mis-communication and "Thanks Again"

Blah, Blah
So, now back to Ruby
They ran an EKG
Did x-rays. 
I told my vet about the rattling, I had him press his fingers on the side of her chest to feel the vibrations.
I tell him about the constant dark discharge from her eyes and how I have to carefully wipe her face so as not to excite her and bring on a "Spell".
I tell him how I can't give her bathes anymore because she becomes too upset and her tongue comes out and turns blue and she appears to be not breathing.
He looked her over and studied her x-ray and didn't seem overly concerned and said to just continue with the meds she's on.
While he attended to another client I told the techs that I wanted bloodwork done.
All the techs crowd around her, stroking her, calming her while they get blood.
She does fine.
My vet comes into the lab area and we tell him that we are running her bloodwork.
I'm holding her and she's calm.
One of the techs offers to trim her nails and gently takes a hold of her foot.
She hasn't even brought the clippers close and Ruby's tongue is blue.
I look at the tech and ask her "Does it look blue?"
and then it turns bluer and then it suddenly purple blue.
I turn and quickly move towards Doc and suddenly she's peeing. 
I'm holding her straight out away from me so that she's not urinating all over me. 
Doc said for them to get some of the urine, run a sample.
We rush her to the table.
For a moment my head is swirling around the room.
I can't focus.
I look down and the tech said she's breathing again. 
Doc is listening to her chest, her heart has dramatically slowed.
He says to run an EKG again and we hurry into the surgery room and hook her up and also start giving her oxygen.
Her color starts to return to pink.
One of the techs said that she had a mini heart attack but in dogs, they call it something else.

Now they are researching what other medications they can add it to what she's already taking.

................seriously, 2014 is really sucking so far.

I'm not Moving, so...

OK, So I'm not moving but one of the things that I love in a house is a 3 season
or even better, a sunroom.

Every single house that I've been interested in, has had one.
Now as I've said before, my home is thin and tall.
Not very big.
The other day as I was watering my plants

                                                   (these looked dead when I brought them in.)
which are all the plants that I brought in from my patio/dog area,
I had an idea.
Probably it's more of a "dream" since I'm flat broke.
(more so after the car problems/missing work fiasco)
but, who knows...maybe someday I could have a sunroom built!

My kitchen, used to be my dining room.
When I first bought my house you came in the front door in the living room
then into the dining room 
and then the kitchen.
It was a tiny kitchen, 6 ft deep and 15 ft wide.
One day I was talking to a friend how I hated having my washer and dryer in the basement
and she said I should swap out the room and make the kitchen into a laundry/mud room
and the dining room into the kitchen.

I thought that was an excellent idea because the dining room was just wasted space for me.
I won't go into what happened because it's a very long story
but the work was done by someone who said they knew what they were doing, but didn't.
A relative of a friend.
But I guess for the $200 bucks, I got what I paid for.
Lucky for me, I mean incredible luck, I fell into the good fortune of getting the plumbing fixed, along with the wiring.
Now my kitchen is next to the living room sort of, great room style.
Anyway, as I was watering the plants in front of the two windows
facing the end of my driveway,

I started fantasizing about replacing those windows with french doors that would lead into a sunroom.

So that's the dream that I'm pinning to my boards in Pinterest and Houzz.
This is my favorite picture of the interior -

and while there are fancier exteriors

I think this one would be more appropriate.

so that's my thoughts on that.
and a few peeks into my home.
(my cat - Ghost)

Also, I wanted to thank everyone for the nice comments the other day.
Most of you have "no-reply" when I go to respond to your comments via email.
So I've decided to start responding from now on, here, in the comments.
I did have a rough week and after all that happening,
on Friday, as I drove to work, suddenly my windshield wipers slowed down to a stand still.
then both the radio and my heat shut down as I drove.
I rolled through a couple of stop signs, afraid to come to a complete stop
and then my engine light came on!
I barely made it to work.
I was so terrified that when I got inside at work, I called the dealership where my car had been the day before and
I ripped them a new one.
I'm usually very nice and not confrontational.
but I just let loose and told them that they needed to tow my van in and fix it.
When they told me that they would see if towing was covered in my warranty
I told them that I didn't CARE whether it was or not because I wasn't paying for it.
They were.
Anyway, long story short. My van was towed in and they ended up replaced the alternator.
The good news is that when I got home that night, my new cell phone was on my front porch.