Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This is a magic microwave shampoo cap that washes and rinses Avery's hair without water, while she sits in bed!!! Amazing!!!!

Avery had a great day. She was able to come off her bipap machine 3 times - for 3 hours each time. This will help her build up her respiratory muscles and test the left side of her heart out to also excercise it - to accomodate to pumping all that blood flow that it has never needed to.

All of her "numbers" and her exam tell us she is tolerating this well - but we are told it does take time for this process to occur.

She continues on her feedings through her jejunal tube - but we have had a hard time keeping it in place. It seems to spontaneously slip out into her stomach. ideally - they would like it past her stomach into her intestinal area so that if she does have any vomiting - she does risk choking or aspiratig on her feedings.

Avery was excitied to see her Aunt Jesse, Poppy, Gram Toole and Uncle Kevin come visit her today!

She is currently watching "Enchanted" (one of her favorite movies) with her dad and we will be getting an x-ray momentarily to see if the new feeding tube is in the correct position. Hopefully it will be - and we will all be settling in to get some rest.

--Thanks to all for your prayers, kind words and good wishes. I was with Avery on Christmas and she is doing even better today, as reported by my dad & sister!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merlot & Marmalade...

Actually, it was pinot grigio and marmalade, but I liked the alliteration. My friend Ali, known to some of you as the grubby wench (her soap company), in addition to being a saponification expert, is also an excellent cook, and she agreed to help my friend (or perhaps former friend?) Anne, and I to make some marmalade. I beg the question about Anne's friendship because she volunteered her kitchen, which -- after a long day, several bottles of wine, (good food) a lot of singing and dancing and pot-watching -- did not fare well. In addition to getting the hot, sticky stuff all over the stovetop, counters, and floor, we somehow managed to pour some in between the glass panels of her oven door. Oops! If anyone has a tip for how to clean that up, I'd love to hear it.

Avery welcomes the winter!

Happy first day of winter everyone! Sorry for the long delay. Tis the season to fall behind on virtually everything. Add to the regular busy-ness of the holidays an ice storm that left me (and much of the Northeast)without power for days, and blogging just falls to the bottom of the list for awhile!

So the news of the day is that my niece is recovering from 2 major open heart surgeries, and is coming through like the tough cookie we all know and love. Today a hospital employee brought her 2 big buckets of fresh snow from last night's storm which she promptly decided she had to taste!! (see the picture above) She's still on breathing assistance for a few days, but slowly being taken off of machines and meds as her body gradually takes over all of the work by itself.

I thank you all for your words of support, prayers and good wishes. I pass them on daily to her parents and they have helped everyone to get through this time knowing how many wonderful people are thinking of their daughter.

No Christmas shopping is necessary this year. Avery's recovery is all we could ever ask for!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Avery rocks!

My heartfelt thanks to all of you who've kept my amazing (if I do say so myself) niece --and her parents & family -- in your thoughts and prayers this week. She was in surgery for 10 hours to work on her left ventricle and also to receive a mechanical heart valve. She will be sedated for at least another 24 hours, but her stats have been great and I've been told she looks excellent. FYI - she frequently looks very puffy and swollen for many days after her surgeries, and my sister and mom have been particularly pleased with how she looks this time, which is one of many signs that her heart is working better than it was before the surgery.

She still has another procedure ahead, and depending on how her stats hold up once she is awake and moving around, it may be done before the Christmas holiday (before scar tissue can build up), so I will continue to update you all on her progress and to ask for you to continue to keep her close in your hearts and minds.

In the meantime, I leave you with Avery's rendition of "These boots are made for walkin'" (or is it, Steak on the Roses??)inside joke

FYI, if any of you have been wondering, Avery is in the care of an amazing surgeon, cardiologist and medical professionals in the cardiac unit at Children's Hospital in Boston.

I am planning to see her this coming weekend, and will give a first-hand update at that time!!!
-Aunt Kerri signing off for now.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sweet and strong...

After a somewhat sudden, though not entirely unexpected turn of events, my niece Avery will be undergoing her fifth open heart surgery either Wednesday or Thursday of this week, to replace her aortic valve and continue to correct a congenital heart defect.

I am asking my blog readers to send all of your positive thoughts, good wishes and prayers her way. This strong, feisty four-year-old is my biggest hero and these recent pics don't begin to capture her enormous personality

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sweet decay...

gray days
a damp chill in the air
the smell of wet leaves
a barren tree silhouetted against a cloudy sky
a gust of wind that sends the last leaves dancing across my lawn
a myriad of browns where once there was color

I love not just the bright, colorful majesty of early fall, but the fragile beauty of decay as autumn exhales its last sweet breath to old man winter.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Never borrow trouble...

...imaginary things are harder to bear than real ones.

I don't know who to credit with this quote, but I found it in the sidebar of a book I am reading and it has kept me grounded these past few days. My reality is a wealth beyond measure of amazing friends and family, (and blog readers - thank you!!) a great little home, good health and of course, Max the wunder-schnauzer to name just the highlights. My imaginary worries got the best of me last week - worries about the future, which, if you really think about it, is imaginary. There is no other moment than now. So now is where I am living today.

And speaking of now, I am now the proud owner of a trunk-turned-coffee-table, which I found for a steal while antiquing with a girlfriend this weekend. I am hoping it holds up better than the checkerboard table, though I have yet to test it on my family. It looks pretty durable, but I haven't dropped a 220-pound man on top of it yet. If I do, you'll be the first to know!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Elvis, is that you?

My friend Miriam invited her friends to help celebrate her birthday this weekend with one of the most unique parties I've ever had the opportunity to attend. In addition to the family, friends & food found at most parties, this party included a combination of arts & entertainment I am likely never to see all in the same place again... While enjoying food and conversation, we each had our photo taken with the birthday girl and then made two 6 x 6 scrapbook pages to leave behind for Miriam's memory book.

But it was Elvis (or was it?) who stole the show. Actually it wasn't the real Elvis - my first clue was when he told us his computer had "crapped out on him, (he'd forgotten to pack his Mac power cord) so he had to go back to CDs." My second clue was his wife/assistant...no, not Priscilla --but the Number One Female Elvis Impersonator in Europe, who performed the warm-up set. I wanted to be impressed with her title, really, I did, but, I mean, how many other female Elvis impersonators...in Europe... did she have to beat for that title? Two? Maybe? I don't know. Maybe there are dozens.

Nevertheless, in true Elvis fashion, he girated and sweat, and curled his upper lip, and worked the crowd as best you can when you're competing with printed papers and glue stick and ribbons and punches and a cheese platter and baked ziti.

But one of the other party-goers asked the question I now ponder, as I remember this one-of-a-kind party...

"I wonder if they have real jobs?"

-- Thanks Miriam. May you have a wonderful year!!!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It was a smash!

The McElroy Clan reunion...

An impromptu gathering of my mom & two of her siblings last night at my house led to a little too much red wine (not me this time!!!), and sadly, my table did not fare well. In fact, it was like a movie stage prop from a bar brawl scene. Although it looks as though it was perhaps smashed over someone's head, it was just breaking the fall (literally) of one of my guests, who shall remain nameless.

You may recall that I featured this formerly cute little table (now reduced to kindling) in a recent post, and while I am sad that this great little piece has had such a short life in my home and would perhaps have fared better in a more sedate household, I will remember it fondly, along with this evening stroll down McElroy memory lane. A stroll, I must add, that is not for the faint-hearted. I remember my grandmother as caring and well-dressed, but somewhat aloof. Apparently aloofness (I'm not sure that's even a word), is not the most desirable trait in a mother, if this band of McElroy hooligans can be believed...and I think they can.

An aside to the missing sibling:
Roberta, I apologize that I was unable to invite you - but this was a very last-minute-same-day invitation. Ed had a meeting in my office building, and the next I knew, I'd invited the local sibs to my house for food, wine and destruction of property. If I have the opportunity to do it again, I'll let you know!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another year older...

and deeper in debt!

and yet, I am incredibly rich in friends and family, without which nothing else would matter. It's amazing how perspective changes with the passing years. When I was in my early teens, I remember imagining what the world would be like in the year 2000, which seemed light years away.And then I did the math, and realized to my twelve-year-old horror that I would be -- egads -- 36 years old in the year 2000. I would be so old that I wouldn't even be able to enjoy the new milennium!! Seriously,I recall feeling this way. Fortunately I am much younger now than when I was twelve.

I was a dreadfully serious child at twelve. ("Wednesday's child is full of woe" - yes, I was born on a Wednesday). And I worried about EVERYTHING --which, of course, was mostly nothing, but at the time the most minute details seemed the cause for great angst in my life. Homework, teachers, clothes, my thighs, a single zit on my chin, my thighs --the physical worries alone could fill entire paragraphs on my blog.
Add to that puberty, public speaking and sports, and I just wanted to spin a coccoon and emerge as a butterfly, skipping my teens entirely.

There are moments when the thought of that coccoon still sounds inviting, but most of the time these days, I am ready to face the world head on, and enjoy each day for the gift that it is.

On my birthday, my wish is for all of us to recognize the gift of every passing day.

(and also that I win the mega millions lotto or some other great fortune).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Enjoying the simple pleasures

of fall...

This has been an amazingly beautiful September, with warm sunny days and cool evenings perfect for opening windows wide and curling up beneath the covers to sleep, usually with my dog Max at my side. I fall asleep to the serenade of crickets and katydids, along with late night drivers on my not-so-country road. This may seem quite ordinary, but one of the many feuds I lost with my husband on a regular basis was keeping the windows open, so I am appreciating the novelty of it right now.

I had an opportunity this weekend to take a leisurely ride out to the Artifacts Country Store in Melrose, NY for their annual harvest fest. Their store is a tiny gem out in the country, filled to the rafters with antiques and folk art crafts, much of which spills out onto their patio and beneath the trees that surround their lovely property. I enjoyed a cup of cider while watching the chipmunks scurry behind pumpkins and beneath the ground cover. Proprietors and artists Beth and Paul Cunningham have made their art a way of life, and it's a treat to be able to soak up some of their creativity. If you live in the Northeast, I encourage you to check them out.

I went there looking for little treasures, such as lavender sachets and vintage ornaments, of which there are many, but left with a wonderful table, handpainted by Paul, instead. I decided to use this piece in lieu of a coffee table, as I like to do a lot of my creating (and eating dinner) in the living room and the height is perfect if I pull it up to the sofa. Notice too the paper lamp in the background. My sister treated me to the lamp while we were on the Vineyard. I had no place to hang it, until I stumbled (literally) and so fortuitously upon that great stick from which is hangs. I am not sure if it is whimsical or just plain ridiculous, but for now it illuminates my evenings like a big green full moon!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back from the Vineyard...

I had a wonderful time with family out on Martha's Vineyard at the end of last week. The trip was short but very sweet. The weather was a mix of sun and rain, but that was of no matter. We are really fortunate that we truly enjoy one another's company so much. I don't take that for granted. It is also great fun to spend time in the company of a 4-year old, particularly my niece, who is so funny and creative, with a flair for drama that can't possibly be captured in this blog. When I arrived, we discovered that Avery and I were wearing the same outfit...

One of our favorite stops on the Vineyard is always beadniks, which is a visual delight and an assault on the pocketbook. Many of their thousands of beads are handmade in exotic locales, so I understand the prices, but it's still always a surprise to leave with empty pockets and such a teeny tiny bag of treasures! But it allowed us to spend the rainy time in a lovely house making jewelry. I don't have any of our creations here as I write this post, but I'll post pictures soon. We made some fun and funky pendants, using a variety of materials.

Now I am spending this week playing catch-up at work and at home, but I wanted to take a moment to post -- and to say thank you to my faithful visitors, who never fail to brighten my day with words of friendship and support. I'll end this post with one of my hand-drawn, digitally enhanced illustrations...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


On the eve of Sept. 11, I thought this digital collage would be fitting (It's not new so you may have seen it before). My apologies to my faithful readers that I have not been much of a blogger of late. In addition to my personal divorce drama, it's just my super-busy season at work. And what better time to sneak off for 4 days on Martha's Vineyard with my family than when work is piling up? So that's where I am off to. I am so lucky to be able to sponge off my sister for the lodging and my dad for the ride, and for the opportunity to get together with them all!!!

Peace to you all. And I hope to have more time to blog soon!!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I get by...

...with a little help from my friends.

I am not good at asking for help, but this year, as a newly single bill-payer and homeowner, I've had to humble myself to do so several times, and I've learned something that should have been completely obvious. People like to help. They want to to help. It feels good to help someone -- I know this. I feel good when I help someone else, so why have I been so reluctant to ask for help when I need it? Simply put, I am guilty of pride. I pride myself on being able to do it all, but the fact is that I can't do it all. Sometimes I need help. And that doesn't make me less of a person. In fact, it makes me feel so fortunate that I am surrounded by so many people who care.

A few weeks ago, I had a mattress and boxspring delivered by two enormous men in need of a good dental plan. They were a jovial pair, grinning unself-consciously in spite of the fact that they didn't have a full set of teeth between them, and they were quite graceful given their girth, as they maneuvered the mattress and boxspring into my bedroom. Unfortunately, the weight of a heavy boxspring and two three-hundred pound men (I'm guessing) took it's toll on the stairs leading off my deck, and they collapsed. In the tradition of my mother, I "fixed" my stairs with a combination of bricks and wooden shims, camouflaged with flower pots, but I knew this was a sad and temporary solution. I really needed to get the stairs repaired.

So I asked one of my neighbors and fellow dog-walkers who is now retired and has been busying himself with handyman work. And of course, he was happy to help. The very next morning - before 9 am (on a weekend!) he arrived with tools in hand and whistled his way through the job in about an hour, refusing to take payment (which was a relief, because I didn't have any money to pay him either!!! :>)

So now I will leave you with a digital collage I just made(above). I started with the picture of daisies taken on my friend Debbie's farm (rotated sideways) and transformed it in Photoshop.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A simply perfect day making art with friends...

My dear friend Marilyn invited me, along with my other dear friend Laura, to her house for a day of art, lunch and conversation last Friday, and it was just what I needed. I've really been in an artistic funk this summer, and there's nothing like being surrounded by enthusiastic and artistic friends to motivate me. We began with coffee and a leisurely visit in Marilyn's sun room, eventually retreated to her art studio and then enjoyed a scrumptious salad that was as much a work of art as Marilyn's inedible creations. There are wonderful touches of Marilyn and her art in every room of her home -- altered vintage birdhouses, distressed furniture pieces and great flea market finds among them.

Here is a glimpse of the technique that Marilyn taught us that day, which she calls "the big dark." She is currently teaching this class at the Albany Art Room, so I will not reveal the secrets of the technique here, but it was a truly fun and freeing way of painting, and I'll be playing with this technique again soon.

As most of my readers know, this summer has marked a time of transition and change for me, and I am still navigating it all. I feel a bit adrift at times, and I just haven't been able to create a lot of art lately. I am not pushing it, as I have found that forcing it never works. Instead, I am busying myself with my home, friends and family, and I fully expect the inspiration and art will return in their own good time. When I tell friends and other artists about my dilemma, the feedback is interesting. Some find that periods of change and stress help their art -- it's a place for them to escape to. This makes sense to me, but it's unfortunately not the way I am wired. I can't seem to "get lost in my art" when my brain is working furiously about too many other things.

But this day spent with friends reminds me that even though I have lost my way a little and am adjusting to new routines, I still love creating, and I'll find my way back to it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Another enormous rubber stamp & craft supplies sale

One of my best friends (formerly a 101 teacher at Stampassion) is undertaking the enormous challenge of turning her basement into an inlaw apartment, and has to make room by seriously cleaning out her beloved supply of rubber stamps and craft supplies. (I know -- exhanging her precious art supplies for inlaws? Not exactly a fair exchange.) Since my home is centrally located and I have side street parking, I've offered my house as the location for her sale. I may even toss a few items from my over-full craft room into the mix (although that's still up in the air -- I'm very attached.)
I cannot tell you how amazing her collection is, and she is prepared to part with it for a fraction of the original prices. Hundreds of the stamps (and there are MANY hundreds, if not thousands) are brand-spanking new. Below I have also listed some of the other items you will find at this sale. I also took a few quick pictures of just some of what will be there.
You are all invited to stop by, and please spread the word to anyone else that you think might be interested.
If I have a chance, we will also be offering little goodies & surprises for everyone who stops by --
Giant Rubber Stamp & Craft Sale
Saturday, August 16, 2008 (Rain date of Sunday, August 17, same time)
10 am - 3 pm
I am not posting my address here, although I think most of the world could find me if need be - if you are interested and don't know where I live, send me an email.

HUNDREDS of gently used rubber stamps from companies such as Dawn Houser, Laurel Birch, Rubbermoon, Savvy, Art Impressions, House Mouse, Claudi Rose, Mostly Animals, Magenta, Stampfrancisco, Stamp in the Hand, Paper Parachute, Hero Arts, Stampendous, Hot Potatoes, Zimprints
-- You'll find new sets, cubes, giant backgrounds, asian designs, fabric stamps, holiday images and MORE...
-- 1 xyron 850 machine with several cartridges
-- 1 xyron create a sticker
--1 xyron x-sticker maker & cartridge
-- 1 unopened pasta machine
-- home pro eyelet setter
-- clay tools
-- large paper cutter
-- stamp o graph stamp positioner
-- tons of embellishments, brass charms, beads, silver plated charms, eyelets
-- paper punches, embossing powders, pearl ex sets, chalks

Stampable items - brown craft purses, boxes, birdhouses & assorted shapes
Stampable childrens clothing - brand new onesies, shirts, tote bags
Die cut papers, assembly cards, accordian cards & books, note cards, vellum, preprinted papers

Ink pads like new, with re-inkers from Ancient Page, Brilliance, Color box, chalk inks

We hope to see you there!!!
Here is just a fraction of the merchandise -- see how pristine it all is!!!
and yes, all of those pizza boxes are full of stamps, as well as the tote
in the background & all of what is on my dining room table!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Press type for walls!!

On a recent excursion with a friend, I found giant press type -- the kind that we used to use in graphic design in the olden days before computers, when design was tactile and fun in a very different way than digital design. Anyway, I saw this phrase and knew that it would look just perfect over my stove. I am thinking that eventually I need a phrase for every room in my house. I just love typography and whimsy, and I think these "wall words" are both!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'd like to thank all the little people...

...but seriously folks, I found out a few days a go that I am a recipient of this blog award! I didn't have a chance to post until now because it requires nominating new winners and putting up links, and I am a very lazy blogger, in spite of being an award-winning one.

So first, I'd like to thank Robyn, an incredibly talented artist in South Africa who carves the most amazing totems and figures, who passed this award on to me. I absolutely LOVE her work and her artistic perspective. Thanks Robyn! - I would also be listing Robyn's blog among my 7 except that it would seem silly to keep sending the award back and forth. Also, I would be listing my good friend, artist Marilyn Rock, but she was a recipient just a wee bit ago, and I don't want her to feel obligated to post again --but her blog showcases the most amazing textural collage paintings and observations on art and life.

Now, I get to pass the award on to some of my favorite bloggers and their blogs. I have many favorites, most of whom have links on the right hand side of my blog, but I will choose just 7 because that's the minimum number and I am too lazy to create more than 7 links -- see rules below:

1. Put the award logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.

So, without further ado, these are 7 of my favorite blogs,listed in no particular order, as I love them all...
1. Insanity is a terrible thing to waste - Debbie's blog is indeed one of my favorites, and not just because she's one of my very best friends. Her blog is filled with fabulous cartoons and funny stories about her adventures owning a farm and two precocious poodles.

2. Cindy Dean - Cindy's blog is a wonderful mix of her art and life - she makes incredible jewelry and is very real in telling her personal story.

3. Lavabo in aquam - DJ's blog is just plain funny - she's a witty writer and talented artist as well.

4. Genre cookshop - Nancy B. creates some of my favorite still life paintings that remind me of my grandmother and simpler times, and her blog showcases life, art, poetry, and incredible photography.

5. Grubby Wench - My good friend Ali doesn't blog much, but what she lacks in quantity, she makes up for in quality. She's one of the most scathingly witty women I know, and she's also an incredibly talented soap-maker.

6. Musings on collage - Laura is a mixed-media artist whose talents know no boundaries. She is good at everything, and her blog offers great art prompts on Mondays to fuel the creative spirit.

7. Thrifty collage artist - Suzan is my most recently discovered blog. Her art is rich and graphic and saturated with color, and she offers free tutorials on he blog.

Thank you for visiting my award-winning blog!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Two art dates in one month - woo woo!!

My friend Debbie and I love to get together for art dates, which usually include talking, web surfing, eating, and oh, yeah, also art-making. Our goal for years has been a day a month, but often life gets in the way of our plans and we don't get together as often as we'd like, so the fact that we were able to get together twice in one month is pretty amazing!!

This is the third piece I made (mixed media acrylics and collage) on mdf, to donate to the Hubbard Hall art & cultural center auction. I enjoyed making this piece more than the end result. I experimented with texture, using dress pattern tissue, embossing paste, gel medium, assorted fibers, and acrylic paints. I think it's a bit lacking in contrast, but it was very satisfying to build up the background textures.

I haven't had a lot of art-making time this summer, as I tackle the realities of single home-ownership, so my attempts at art are a bit fragmented and all over the place. I know that I will eventually strike the right balance and find my groove again. I'm not forcing it.

In addition to our art-making, Debbie brought another trunk full of rocks from her farm for me to use alongside my shed. (I cannot thank you both enough, Debbie & Len!!!) I planted some hasta around my shed in the spring, and the rocks fill in between to keep down the weeds so that I don't have to trim and mow there. They also just lend some great texture and detail to my yard. I love rocks!!! This may look like no big deal, but these babies are sooo heavy that we can only transport a dozen or so at a time by ourselves. And they'd cost a fortune if I had to buy them, so I am incredibly lucky that my friends are so willing to share them with me!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The wedding platter - part 2

Several readers have expressed interest in actually SEEING the wedding platter, and one expressed some concern that the gift-giver might see my story. Fortunately, the giver of this gift (on my soon to be ex-husband's side of the aisle), is not much of a computer user. In spite of how dreadful this gift was, I would never have posted the story if I thought she might see it and recognize herself. In fact, she is a woman possessed of such (misplaced) confidence in her sense of style that even knowing she had given us a Lefton wedding platter, I am sure she would not suspect it was her gift I was writing about. (hear strains of Carly Simon's "You're so Vain).

In truth, I wanted to post a photo, but I left the wedding platter at my sister's -- and that's PART 2. Last Halloween when my sister left her house to take my niece trick-or-treating, she decided to use the honor system for giving out candy, and she left her candy on the front steps in a very nice stainless steel bowl. When she returned, the candy -- and the bowl -- were gone. So this year, my other sister, upon hearing the story of the wedding platter, suggested it would make an excellent Halloween dish!! We can't wait to see if someone will take it once we demonstrate with tiny boxes of Raisinettes how useful it is.

In the meantime, I did several google searches to see if I could find the same platter pictured online, but it seems to be a one of a kind! This platter is much prettier, for example.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"I'm looking for broken watches..."

"...and broken clocks."
That was the first inquiry from and older gentleman who was our first visitor on Saturday morning at 8:15 am -- 45 minutes before the sale officially began. At nine on the dot, a second older gentleman -- Rudy -- asked the same question. I told him that he was the second man to ask about broken watches, and he shook his fist and exclaimed, "Bob! He always beats me to these sales!" My brother-in-law commented that he never considered selling broken things. I thought this was very telling of the times. Back when Rudy and Bob were young, people knew how to fix things, so a broken item still had value.

In spite of the fact that we advertised no earlybirds, we discovered this phrase really means "get here early or all the good stuff will be gone" to yard sale officianados. In fact, Bob, my first broken watch inquirer, was actually our second earlybird. The first was a woman who arrived 18 hours early, knocking on my sister's door on Friday afternoon, desperate to find a pocket book, jewelry, a bookcase, and little buddhas. She explained to me that she was going to be working all day Saturday, so she was hoping she could shop a day early. After I explained that we had not yet begun to sort and price things, and that I had no idea what my sister was selling, she tried to persuade me to let her stop back at 7 am the following morning on her way in to work. Since I foresaw (accurately) a late evening of wine, takeout chinese, and yard sale prep, I told her that 7 am was going to be much too early. Still, she continued to stand on my sister's porch, as though I was hiding the crown jewels inside. I could not get her to leave, so I asked if I could take her name (Lucia) and number, and promised to call her if I found any of the items she mentioned.

At around 8:30 on Friday evening, we finally sat down with aching backs, wine glasses and takeout when the doorbell rang. Lucia, the pocket book and buddha hunting earlybird, had now elevated her status to kinda scary yard sale stalker. She just happened to be picking her daughter up from karate lessons, and wondered if we'd had a chance to check on her items of interest. When I told her we had nothing she was looking for, she lingered on the steps for a rather awkward moment. I don't know what reasoning she was using to think that I would hide things that we clearly wanted to get rid of, but she seemed unconvinced as she (finally) got into her car and drove away.

After the initial rush of earlybirds, we had a steady stream of bargain hunters, including the woman in designer clothes who re-negotiated every sale, "Will you take $2 instead of $3?" ---And a local landscaper (Jeffrey) who, after piling up all his purchases, made himself comfortable in an old wing chair that was for sale, and filled me in on his entire life from college at SUNY Morrisville in the 70s, to his latest landscaping job, his need to lose 30 pounds, and his dad's recent death. He bought $40 worth of "stuff" but I think he just wanted someone to talk to. ---And the couple whose 40-plus daughter was having her first child, so they were buying all of the "baby's first" items that my sister never had the time to use for my niece.

Finally, it all ended with Celine, my sister's neighbor and great samaritan, who brought the remains to Goodwill, and meeting a needy family in the parking lot, gave them everything.

Oh, except for the wedding platter. I received a hideous piece of Lefton china as a wedding gift, which has remained in my attic in it's original box since 1989, and which I've attempted to sell (for $3) in the past three yard sales. After Celine left with a carload for Goodwill, we put 5 items at the end of my sister's driveway, marked "free." Four of the five items were furniture and toys that would not fit into Celine's car, and the fifth was the wedding platter, which was mysteriously left behind. One by one as the day wore on, we noticed that the remaining items were claimed. While my sister and I prepared dishes for a neighborhood barbecue that evening, my mom came inside and announced excitedly "Kerri, someone took the wedding platter!" It's gone, with the wooden chair. My sister and I exchanged a look, and I said, half kidding "They probably tossed the platter onto the lawn and just took the chair." One hour later, my brother-in-law confirmed that the wedding platter was sitting beside their mailbox, in a spot my mom apparently couldn't see. Some things you can't even give away!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ta da list for June (late) and other stuff...

Wow. The month of June came and went without my monthly list of creative pursuits. I did have a lot of other things on my mind, but I was still able to do a few things:

I read a book -- More than you know by Beth Gutcheon
I made a few rings & necklaces on the Vineyard, after shopping at Beadniks
and I taught 2 classes.

For me, summer is a time to switch creative gears a bit, so this list would have been shorter than usual even without the personal junk going on. I love to spend some of my creative energies in my garden, and also fill the well by reading, visiting antique stores, and roaming the countryside, both on foot and via car, taking photos and exploring. People often think of the city when they think of New York, but the landscape upstate is ripe with rolling hills, beautiful valleys, farms, and quaint towns that beg to be appreciated at this time of year. I am also spending a lot more time with family and friends this summer.

This weekend, I head outside Boston to visit my sister and niece, along with my mom and Max. We're helping my sister with a yard sale. In addition to the regular treasures you'd expect to find, we're making up "mystery bags" to give away with every purchase!! Oh, the suspense!!! My niece has also decided to sell my mom's husband, "Poppy Dick" for "fivey-eight dollars," which I think is a bargain for a guy who can cook.

I leave you this week with a picture of my sunflowers - planted by the birds who dropped them from their feeder in the early spring. They are better gardeners than I am! My own attempts never grew like these!!

I also want to say thank you to all of my blog readers for stopping by and for those who leave comments that make me feel so fortunate. I wish I could thank you all in person with a hug and a handmade gift of thanks, but in the meantime, I want you all to know how much I appreciate you. Okay, enough mushiness, have a great weekend everyone, and if you're in the Hopkington, Mass. area, there's a mystery bag with your name on it!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


This is the second painting I did while staying at Debbie's...Actually, this was the first painting, but I liked it less so I am posting it second. I think she has a sort of possessed look in her eyes that bothers me. I tried touching up the paint in her eyes several times and just decided to call it a day. Debbie thinks she looks more mischievous and determined than possessed. I didn't title this one when I was at Debbie's because all of my titles were somewhat critical and negative, but "alight" came to me as I was writing this.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


This is one of the pieces I created while visiting my friend Debbie. It is a mixed media piece I created with acrylics, oil pastels, and collage on mdf. It is one of two that I created to donate to the Hubbard Hall art sale. I tried to mimic the acrylic face painting technique that Cindy Dean showed on her blog, taught by DJ Pettit. Since I only guessed the technique based on a few photos, I am sure it could be better, but I was not altogether unhappy with this piece. Debbie and her husband Len liked the other piece I did better, but I didn't like the expression on her face at all - I will be posting that one tomorrow so you can tell me what you think.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Max -n- Maggie on the farm...

I spent a wonderful day and a half with my dear friend Debbie and her husband and dogs, on their farm last week. They treated me to great company, delicious food, wonderful entertainment, peaceful relaxation, time to make art, and time to enjoy the miracles of nature on their beautiful farm. (Not to mention a trunk full of rocks - thank you Len & Debbie!) As you can see, Max and Maggie had a great time too!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

She has a gift...

"I spit celery at you..."

That was one of the more memorable quotes from our girly weekend. My niece was enjoying a piece of celery during lunch, and spit the stringy part over her shoulder, where a couple happened to be sitting. She then turned around and realizing what she had done, confessed to them. I don't think they would have been quite so charmed if I had made the same confession, but you can say just about anything when you're cute and four years old.

It was a short and utterly sweet girls week on Martha's Vineyard. The weather was divine, the shopping was endless, the wine flowed generously, the food was delicious, and it was just a great time with a group of my favorite women. After two long visits to our favorite bead store -- Beadniks -- where we spent great sums of money on teeny tiny bags of beads & findings -- we made some wonderful jewelry pieces, and returned with just enough money to get our car out of hock in the ferry parking lot -- $48 for 3 days -- yikes. Add to that our fare for the ferry, and we are thinking of taking our car on the boat next year, just for the convenience. The weather reports before we left looked ominous, and while it poured buckets on the ride over and back, the trip in between was absolutely perfect. Sunny days, low humidity and cooler nights. Our girls weekend has been going on for more than 10 years with various dates and locations, and we've been blessed with unbelievably fair skies every time.

I realize that I promised funny stories, but while we laughed almost constantly, most of my stories are the "ya hadda be there" kind. Like when Liz wanted to face forward on the ferry to avoid getting sick, and the ferry kept changing direction out of the dock so she switched seats 4 times backward/forward/backward/forward. It was hilarious to watch, but see -- Not so funny here. Or when my sister's car kept stalling anytime she idled at a red light -- because she'll spend $150 on .25 oz. of designer facial moisturizer, but she won't get the part replaced that will keep her car from stalling.

But I did just think of one funny story that involves a previous year and this year...
While shopping on the Vineyard, my mom once again bought a rather expensive piece of clothing without trying it on, because she has "a gift" for being able to tell her size. This wouldn't be a big deal if she was shopping at a local retail store, but she does this on vacation in unique boutiques and then goes home before trying on the clothes. I'll begin with last year, when we stayed at my sister's house outside of Boston, and travelled to Newport, Rhode Island for the day and evening...

Mom: I love this dress. Ooh, it's expensive. Oh well, I'm on vacation. I'm buying it.
Mary: You'd better try it on first.
Mom: I don't have to. I have a gift.
Mary: A gift?
Mom: Yes. I've always been able to just look at clothing on the rack and tell if it fits me.
Mary: But we're in Newport. And we're leaving today. Don't you want to be sure?
Mom: I am sure! Look (holding it up) it fits. I can tell.
Mary: Okay, if you say so. But I'd try it on if I were you.
Mom. Nope. I'm fine.

Returning to my sister's house, hours from Newport and the swanky little boutique, we engage in one of our favorite activities -- wine-tasting. Lots and lots of tasting of entire bottles of wine. Well into bottle number three, we remember mom's dress, and ask her to try it on for us. (You can see where this is going). It's a white, flowy, lacy sundress, made of absolutely unforgivable cotton. We all agree it's very pretty and summery. She retreats to the spare bedroom, and we wait. And wait. And wait.

And wait? Was that a call for help? My sister Cheryl retreats to the bedroom, and fits of giggles ensue.

Mom: I'm stuck.
Cheryl: I see that. Let me help you (choke, laugh, gasp). Yup. There's no denying it. You have a gift, mom.

Indeed. For sure, my mom's greatest gift is the ability to laugh at herself, and to allow all of us to join in the fun. Apparently my mom's "gift" was also on vacation that week, and she came out of the room looking like 50 pounds of potatoes in a 10 pound bag. All that white, flowy cotton was deceivingly small.

Fast forward to this year on the Vineyard. We are in a sweet little boutique, and mom sees some black fabric on a display table. It gathers at the top and bottom, and has a strap at the top.

Mom: Oh, it's a purse. But wait, it has a hole in the bottom.
Kerri: That's because it's not a purse, it's a halter top.
Mom: Ooh. (holding it up). I like this.
Kerri: It's cute. It's drapy around the middle. I think it's very "you." Go try it on.
Mom: (scrunching up her nose). Naah. I don't want to. Besides, I have a gift.
Kerri: Seriously mom. A minute ago you didn't even know it was a shirt.
Mom: Yeah, but I can tell it will fit. Really.
Kerri: I can't believe you are doing this again.
Mom: I'm just getting it.
Kerri: Of course you are. Whatever!

Once again, this was our last day on the Vineyard, and we had already relinquished our house, so after shopping, we were returning to the ferry and to my sister's house for our last night. And once again, we began with wine-tasting, and then, with mom's fashion show. To our amazement, her gift had returned! The halter fit perfectly, and really really looked great.

So own your gifts. Believe in yourself. Occasionally you may fail. But that's okay. Particularly if you can laugh about it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I'm in this book! How cool is that?

The author actually informed me that some of my journal pages were chosen a long time ago, when she was in the writing and organizing stages, and I've been waiting (and waiting) excitedly for it to finally arrive. I am a very big believer in the magic of art journaling to free the artistic soul, so I am thrilled that a few of my pages made it into this visual treat. There's a brief intro and some great prompts for journaling at the beginning of the book, and then just hundreds of pages of eye candy, along with contact information for the artists in the back.

Tomorrow I am off to an overnight with my dog to my friend Debbie's out in the gorgeous NY State countryside, where we'll make art, eat great food, hike the trails on her farm, and gab for hours. I probably won't blog again until Monday, but I hope to have some art pieces to share when I get back. We're making pieces to donate to a local auction, the proceeds of which go to an art & cultural center in her town. All in all, a perfect way to begin a summer weekend, in my book.

Happy Independence Day!