Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One word.

Two years ago, I found Christine Kane's blog -- she explained in this post why new year's resolutions generally don't work, and why choosing a single word to be your guide for the year might be a more effective way of achieving goals and making dreams come true. I have been using this practice for two years, and it has been amazingly effective for me.

In 2008, I chose the word health, and I shed a bad marriage, lots of pounds, and a good deal of mental baggage. In 2009, I chose the word wealth, and while I still have to work for a living, I am in a much better place than I was a year ago, and I am wealthy beyond belief in love, family, friends, joy, gratitude, and good health.

For about two weeks, I've been thinking about what word to choose for 2010. Like Christine, I believe that a single word is more effective and focused than choosing several, so the word I choose is important to what I hope to manifest in my life in 2010.

This morning, when I woke up and began my day, I tried to focus on the most appropriate word. I am a morning person, and early in the day is when I have the most clarity, so I was sure it would come to me. I had it narrowed down to about a half dozen, and as I turned on the coffee pot, made my bed, and bundled up for my walk with Max, I let them pass through my mind, trying them on for size.

When I returned from our walk, I went into my bedroom, coffee cup in hand, and glanced at my reflection in the mirror, holding this cup that I had purchased just a few weeks ago. It wasn't even one of the words on my list, but I was absolutely certain it was the one I sought.

It is the word that has sustained my sister (and our entire family) during every one of Avery's surgeries, and I know it will serve me well in 2010.

I wish you all a Happy, Healthy New Year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas...

I wish you all a magical, miraculous holiday season. Once again, I thank you all for your prayers, support, encouragement and friendship during this past year. I am blessed beyond all measure.

I don't know when I'll have an opportunity to post again during the next week or so as I'll be off to spend Christmas in Boston with my mom, sisters, and especially, Avery. I am looking forward to waking up to her beautiful face on Christmas morning.

This montage of photos was taken on thanksgiving day this year. Last year, Avery's journey began on Thanksgiving day, and we could never have imagined all that would take place in the next twelve months.

This year, many of my thoughts and prayers will be with the family of Avery's donor, and the angel with whom she shares a heart.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A regal visitor...

I posted a similar photo last year sometime, I think, but these beautiful creatures never cease to amaze me, so I may tell the same story twice. This hawk perched on my deck railing for a good fifteen minutes yesterday morning. There are bird feeders to his left and right, so I suspect that he had either just feasted on one of my little visitors, or attempted to and was just re-grouping before heading off. I know it's sad, but that's the way nature works. And he has to eat too.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Painting as therapy...

I had a bad day at work yesterday. My bad days at work are very few and far between, but nonetheless, it was not one of my better days. At 5 sharp, I left hastily, looking forward to wrapping some holiday gifts, lighting a fire, and watching tv with Max curled up at my side.

When I pulled into my driveway, it was 5:30-ish and dark. I glanced across my front lawn and thought, "What's all over the lawn?" As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I figured it out. It was most of my split rail fence. I live on a main road, and for the second time in less than a year, someone crashed into my fence. The first time, there was just minor damage to one post, but this time, two-thirds of my fence was spewed like matchsticks all over my lawn. This was not the way I had envisioned my evening to begin. But a couple hundred profanities later, I was over it.

I mean, first of all, the person who hit my fence was obviously having an even worse day than me. And according to the accident report, she wasn't injured, which was good news, and a miracle, given the condition of my fence the auto debris that she left behind.

So I walked Max, lit a fire, ordered a pizza, poured a glass of wine, (and then another) and finished this painting, which is a gift for a friend who has been doing some interior decorating. I stayed up way too late, because I was totally in the zone, but it was the perfect ending to a much less than perfect day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A trip to the city...

Dec 5-6.

NYC to be exact. It was great. I went with my Aunt, Mary (with me, at right), and we were hosted by my cousins, her sons, Adam & Scott. We had three great meals (lunch & dinner on Sat, and then brunch on Sun), as well as fabulous seats to see Wicked. I find musicals to be a bit over the top, and can only take them in small doses, but it was a great show, and the set was phenomenal.

One of the highlights for me was a trip to the MOMA, where my cousins left me in search of a bar with a football game airing. I only had a couple of hours, but I could easily have spent all day. It's an amazing building, and I was awed to be in the presence of such incredible art. And yes, I chose the MOMA over a bar! It doesn't happen often, folks.

When I told my sister Jennifer that I wanted to see the MOMA, she said, "What's the MOMA?"

"The Museum of Modern Art."

And she said, "Seriously!?"

I said, "Yeah, why? Where would you go?"

She replied "Jimmy Choo!"

And I said, "What's Jimmy Choo?"

"A shoe store - from Sex in the City!"

So when we did find ourselves passing Jimmy Choo, on our way to dinner at the Monkey Bar, we had to stop for the photo! Notice the shoes, attached to the half-naked lady in the window. Kind of like the MOMA!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Altered wish...

This is a digitally altered version of a painting I made over the summer. I had some Photoshop fun with cropping and filters to alter it into a holiday piece. Since it's December already (can you believe it??), I thought an altered Christmas tree would be appropriate. My posts this month will probably be few and brief, as I have not purchased a single gift, baked a cookie, or written a card yet. In fact, this may be as close as I get to a holiday card at the rate I am going!

While I love the act of giving someone a perfect and thoughtful gift, more and more I resent the pressure to buy, buy, buy during this season. I realize that this mind set will not help the economy, but I am hoping to find creative ideas for giving that don't always involve a trip to the dreaded mall.

Oh, and I almost forgot...
My friend Marilyn is introducing a new monthly "featured artist" on her blog, and she has invited me to be the first. Here's my interview.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving thanks...

Among the many, many blessings that my family and I will give thanks for this year is my niece Avery, who has been home now for a month. She now has a new heart, and we have renewed hope for her future and endless gratitude to her donor family, for the most amazing gift our family could ever receive.

We are looking forward to a day of love, laughter, celebration and most of all, gratitude tomorrow, and I wish you all the same!!!

Here are the most recent photos of Avery, home one month (no more tubes, and two missing teeth!).

Happy thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A(nother) new hobby?

My latest obsession...

The Pottery Place in Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany NY...
I have had the intention of stopping in to paint something for about a decade now (way back when the place was called Color Me Mine). A friend and I finally went last week, and I painted this pasta bowl (actual size is 14" round). I had so much fun and I was so pleased with how it turned out that I want to go back and make about a dozen. I might be able to justify the indulgence if I give some of them away as holiday gifts.

The only frustration is the waiting - which I am not good at - it takes a week to get the finished/fired piece back. I only had a vague idea of what the glazes would look like when fired but I liked that part. I loved being surprised at the transformation from dull pastel colors to bright and shiny glaze.

There were hundreds of items besides bowls that I could choose to paint, but I loved the big round surface. Ideas are already spinning in my head about what I might paint on my next bowl (chili peppers? christmas lights? sunflowers?)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Albany Rural Cemetery...

In 1841, in response to a growing problem with flooding at the State Street Burial Ground (in downtown Albany), and continued deterioration of church cemeteries, a public movement was undertaken to purchase and develop a “Rural Cemetery,” beautifully landscaped and safely outside the city. This led to the incorporation of Albany Rural Cemetery on April 2, 1841.

I had heard for years that it's a beautiful place to visit, and unlike many cemeteries, dogs are allowed (on leash). So Max and I took advantage of a warm, late fall day for a long walk this past weekend. The cemetery is only a few miles from my house, and it will now be a regular walking spot for me and Max, when we need a change of scenery. It is a place of uncommon peace and amazing beauty. Not just the landscape, with 400 acres of narrow winding roads, gnarly ancient trees, and trickling streams, but the monuments as well. Majestic stones carved into angels and crosses twenty feet high, and delicate detailed borders ideal for graphite rubbings. I can hardly wait to return (above ground, that is.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A glimpse of Avery at home...

I went to visit Cutes (aka Avery) on her return home last weekend. My sister Jennifer was already there, and they were busy baking heart-shaped cupcakes when I arrived. It was absolutely fabulous to see Avery walking, eating, and asking for new "projects" to keep her busy. We did our best to keep up with her, sewing hand puppets drawing, beading and pushing her on her swing set. I also gave her charge of Max's food & treats. She is a tough taskmaster and by the end of the weekend, Max was obeying commands better for my five-year-old niece than he ever did for me. At one point she asked me why Max never smiles. I resisted telling her that she was the reason -- I explained that he smiles by wagging his tail, though I am not sure she was convinced.

As you can see from the photo (baking with Aunt Jes), she still has a tube for night feeds, (to bolster her vitamins & minerals) but during the day it is not connected and she is making up for all of the hospital limitations. Her appetite was extremely hearty while I was there, which was also a joy to see. Other than limiting her salt intake, she can eat pretty much anything she wants... and she does!

For the next several months, Cutes will be confined mostly to home, to protect her fragile immune system as she continues to recover, but home is a great place to be!!!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween fun...

I went to a halloween party this year at my sister's boyfriend's house. My sister (and her boyfriend) both work for Progressive Insurance, and Flo, the Progressive spokesperson(?) is one of my favorite tv personnas. I totally identify with the eyelashes & hair & lipstick. At first, I was intimidated to put on false eyelashes, but they were super easy once I went back to buy the adhesive, which for some reason, is sold separately. I want to wear false eyelashes all the time now because they made me feel so groovy and super sparkly. And I have 2 pairs left because I bought several, sure that at least one pair would end up stuck to my elbow or down my sink. My sister was "twister sister." This photo does not do her justice - she had red patent leather go go boots & her "hat" was the actual spinner board. Her boyfriend was a vampire, complete with a coffin that he built himself.

Now that's what I call a party!

Friday, October 23, 2009


She's home!!!!!

Her first words upon entering the house were "Mommy, I'm home," followed by an immediate run to the goldfish bowl, where Gigi the goldfish, and Daddy #2 (the replacement for Daddy #1) were happily swimming. "Wow, Daddy's big!" she observed. As though suspecting that something was up, she rummaged through a drawer and pulled out a pair of binoculars to get a closer look.

When I called last night, she was not taking calls, as she ran from room to room, thrilled to be home at last.

I've said this before, but words are really inadequate to express the gratitude my family and I feel for all of you who have shared your thoughts and prayers and good wishes and gifts with Avery and all of us. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Heart lock...

Heart lock - 10 x 14 acrylic & mixed media collage on deep set canvas

...and speaking of hearts...my niece Avery's new heart continues to beat perfectly and there are no signs of rejection. She's been out of the ICU and on the regular cardiac floor for several weeks now, and is up and about every day, with her energy and humor and spicy personality intact, so it is just a matter of time (a short time we hope) before she is able to go home! Nutrition, eating solid foods and balancing her meds are all that keeps her there at this point.

So once again, my own heart is full of gratitude to all of you who have kept her in your hearts and minds for most of the last full year. My heart bursts with thanks for the basic goodness and generosity of humanity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Light hearted

Lighthearted - 12 x 12 acrylic & mixed media collage on canvas.

This piece is very whimsical to me. I've had that light bulb in my stash of found objects for years, and it fell on the floor as I was digging through a basket for something else. The colors in the painting matched it perfectly...so that's a perfect example of how I find inspiration. If I had dropped some old teeth on the floor it would probably have gone differently, but fortunately it was a cute little pink light bulb.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

House of love...

I recently went on a wonderful scavenger hunt at the local salvage warehouse with some fellow artists...I am already planning a return trip -OMG - what fun!!! Like an indoor yard sale of discarded house parts!!!. Among my finds were the escutcheons and keyholes that now adorn this piece of fence post...the fence post itself was saved from a previous junque outing...I just knew that I'd find a use for it one of these days.

I also brought back some larger pieces - shutters & window screens, perfectly distressed with age, which will find their way into some future projects. I love old things -- well some old things. Actually some things are not so good old. For instance: computers, underwear, milk, Danny Bonaduce, water pipes and teeth all come to mind.

So it's probably safe to say that you won't find any old underwear (or teeth) in my mixed media pieces. Or Danny Bonaduce (or old teeth) in my underwear. I just thought you should know.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Some believe...

Some believe - (trio) 5 x 5 acrylic, mixed media & collage on canvas.

I am in a mood today, or more accurately many moods. They change by the moment. I am uncomfortable in my skin when I get this way, but I know I just have to ride it out.

Do you ever ask yourself if you are enough? Or simply why? Or how?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Multi-tasking & art...

I think that painting - and particularly creating mixed-media works, definitely benefits from an ability to multi-task. I know that for me, it's a necessity. I am often impatient when I paint, wanting to add the next layer or object but having to wait for it to dry first. So, working on several pieces at once helps me to fill in the waiting time and not break my creative flow.

Last night I noticed, while blotting some paint brushes, that one of my paint rags was full of paint & wonderful colors, so while my pieces were drying, I decided to create some decorative paper backgrounds using just the rag and some bristol. Fun!

Thursday, October 08, 2009


True - 10 x 10 acrylic, mixed media & collage on canvas.

There is major construction taking place on my regular route to and from work, and it is virtually impassable during commuter hours these days, so I took a side road into work today. As I wound this way and that before being deposited just above the traffic jam, I gave a moment's thought to the creation of roads, and how some of them go straight from point A to point B, while others, like the one I was on, have dips and curves, meandering this way and that before reaching their end.

It could be that winding roads are that way because making them straight would have meant plowing through rock or impossible terrain, but I like to think that some creative soul made them that way because they make the ride better - more rhythmic and fluid.

Either way, it also reminded me to take the side road more often - just for the change in scenery and the enjoyment of the journey.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

"Welcome to the '90s!"

...that is what one of my friends exclaimed last year when I gave her my new (and first) cell phone number. Now, like most, I cannot believe I lived 44 years without a cell phone. I carry it with me at all times, check it frequently and recently had to upgrade my texting package. I've lost it twice and both times I thought the world was coming to an end. Though I like to think I am not as bad as many, I have broken all of the cell phone habits I find most annoying -- talking in public, talking while driving, and leaving my ring tone on during meetings. Did I mention that my ring tone is a song by Pink called Bad Influence? It's not a tune you want screaming out of your briefcase at a staff meeting, I discovered recently. And that texting package? At the time I was averaging about 35 texts per month, and it was cheaper to upgrade to 250 per month. By the following month I was averaging 200 texts. WTF? So as resistant as I am to new technologies, I embrace them enthusiastically once I get around to it.

Now I've taken another major technological leap -- because apparently I missed the 80s too. I just upgraded my cable package so that I can DVR. Is that a verb? I think it is. Of course, I have absolutely no idea how to DVR. There have always been about 45 more buttons on my remote than I needed. On/Off/volume/channels/mute -- what else could one possibly do with a TV? Now I need all those buttons, but I will have to take a special ed course at the junior high in order to learn how to do it. In fact, I even have a second remote that came with my TV, and I have never taken it off the end table. I am afraid I will learn that I need two remotes!

One of the things I worry about with my new ability to DVR is that I will like it. A lot. And that I will sit in front of the TV like a giant vegetable and do nothing all winter but watch all the shows that I claim I don't have time for or that come on too late. Because now I can watch them on a weekend afternoon when the only thing that used to be on was Roadhouse with Patrick Swayzee or football and I would normally be doing something more productive.

Like talking on my cell phone. Or texting.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Home - 18 x 24, acrylic & mixed media on canvas

This is a gift for a friend who just bought her first home. As any of my regular blog readers know, home is a recurring theme in my art and a very important symbol in my life. It represents security, family, comfort, love, and acceptance - the one place I always feel grounded and real and safe.

I wish you all a good weekend and a place to call home.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More little heart paintings...

Heart swirls - 4 x 4 mixed media and acrylics on canvas.

I am 45 today. Probably more than halfway there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fun fall flowers...

I pass a local farmers market on my way home each week, and they have had the most colorful assortment of late summer/early fall blooms - marigolds, zinnias, & lots of hearty greens. I just love 'em!

Off for a fun fall weekend with family and friends!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Courage, Brains...and HEART!

(from my sister's update...)

I'd be tender, I'd be gentle
and awful sentimental
regarding love and art
I could stay young and chipper
and I'd lock it with a zipper
If I only had a heart.... xo

Hi everyone,
Avery is doing spectacular! She is walking almost on her own, eating (she grazes all day long), weaning on her oxygen, and just looks like the Avery we remember almost a year ago - when this unbelievable journey came to a peak last November when she was admitted the day before Thanksgiving due to her human aortic valve deteriorating.
That was really the start of this extraordinary experience - having a mechanical aortic valve placed in early December followed by a bi-ventricular repair (a 14 hour bypass surgery) in mid-December, and then emergency surgery a week later (on a Sunday night in a blizzard) when the OR team was called in from home to repair her pulmonary artery which was bleeding around her heart.
After weeks of recovery - she was finally discharged home January 26, 2009 - skinny and week - but fortunate to have 2 ventricles (or so we thought).
Avery was home for 7 weeks but on March 22nd we brought her to the emergency room at around midnight for a "belly ache" and what we thought would be a stomach virus. Neither Mike nor I were overly excited about sitting in the ER for 6 hours to be told - "make sure she drinks plenty of fluids" but she had come so far and we didn't want to take ay chances - even if it meant a tired Sunday the next day.
A couple of hours later, Avery went into cardiac arrest -- her first of what would end up being 3 arrests due to coronary artery clotting, spasms and heart ischemia. Avery also suffered severe pulmonary and GI hemorrhages from damage to her lungs and CPR with extensive anticoagulation.
On June 10th she had her 3rd cardiac arrest and was placed on ECMO for the 4th time. She was officially listed on the heart transplant wait list on June 14th as a Status 1A.
On June 15th - Avery had her bi-ventricular artificial heart pumps placed and was changed temporarily to a hold -- or "Status 7" on the transplant list to allow her to recover from her VAD surgery.

On August 6th - Day # 51 on the transplant wait list, Avery received the ultimate gift that would save her life and allow her, with a beautifully healthy heart - to heal the many many parts of her body that had suffered from an extremely sick, exhausted, dreadfully damaged heart.
Avery's liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, bowel, skin, muscles and nerves (especially those in her legs from the ECMO cannulas) were all effected - but are ALL recovering now that she has the heart of her super hero beating life (and love) into her every second of every day!
...and because of this...and Avery's inexplicable WILL to live (as Dr. Laussen eloquently stated one grim night on ECMO) - her spirit, sheer guts, and love for life and all it hands her remains completely unscathed.
On Monday, Avery will have her 4th routine post transplant biopsy and if all goes as planned - she will be transferred to the cardiac floor (OUT OF THE ICU!!!!) sometime during next week.
She has been in the ICU 180 days (which does not include Thanksgiving, December and January)
As I write this - Avery is sleeping peacefully arms above her head, her covers kicked off...as she rests up to welcome another tomorrow. Her DVD player is at the end of Polar Express which is one of her favorite night time movies (year round)...which seems perfectly appropriate for how Avery faces life...
Cheryl and Mike

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The best of times...

(l. to r.) Cheryl, me, Jennifer, and (seated) mom.

My sister Cheryl (Avery's mom), invited us to a fundraising dinner in Boston last week, to benefit my niece's heart transplant surgeon, Dr. Francis Fynn Thompson. Dr. Fynn Thompson returns to his native Ghana at least once a year (but preferably twice) to do life-saving open heart surgeries on children there. More importantly, the team that travels there is teaching the medical staff there so that they will be able to continue his work and have a cardiac surgery program of their own in Ghana.

The evening was wonderful. We laughed and talked with Avery's doctors and nurses, ate some wonderful food, and contributed to an amazing cause.

And speaking of my niece, Avery has been up and walking - on her own - in the hospital garden. She is progressing wonderfully and we believe she is on the path to going home in the near future.

Friday, September 11, 2009


11 x 14 mixed media and collage on canvas.

I am working a lot with rusty pieces of flotsam and jetsam that I find primarily on my dog walks. Although there are ways to rust new objects with chemicals and smelly stuff (liver of sulfur), I prefer to find items that have survived the elements. In addition to being rusted, they are usually mangled and crushed and run over and abused, and something about this appeals to me -- perhaps that they have managed to survive, and to me, all that weathering adds a beauty that was lacking in their original form -- another metaphor for life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some new art pieces...

Just a little fun in my studio.

Life. Love. Joy. Hope. Peace.
5 x 5 mixed media & collage on canvas

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sacred Spaces...

Now on exhibit...
Art 'Round Town, a group of local artists to which I belong, has an exhibit at the Colonie Town Hall through the end of October. The theme is Sacred Spaces, and the exhibit features the works of eight artists, who work in a range of media -- art quilting, mixed media, collage, acrylics and pastels among them.

If you live in or around the Albany, New York area, I hope you have an opportunity to visit the second floor of the Town Hall. Information is also available about purchasing works on display.

Above is a glimpse of my pieces. All are 11 x 14 mixed media & collage on deep set canvas.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A wet summer...

Part 2 of my travels took my sister Jennifer and I to the NY State Fair in Syracuse for the Kenny Chesney concert. If you think we were wet running through the Prudential fountain (previous post), you should have seen us by the encore.

Thank heavens for Cowgirl hats & stylin' rain phonchos! The Fair boasts a booth called Pride of NY where you can purchase NY grown/manufactured goods. I wanted(naturally) a bottle of NY State wine, but apparently State law prohibits my carrying the bottle around the Fair -- I could, however, carry 4 plastic cups of the same bottle, poured for me. Ya gotta love the law! I was also tempted to get an airbrush temporary tattoo, but I am glad I resisted this urge, as it would have been dripping down my back by the end of the concert.

I would also be remiss if I didnt' mention Kenny's warm-up act - one Jake Owen - I see a crush of the month blog in my future.

Here, again are the highlights.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Road trip update...

Within the last week, I've been to Maine (Rockland), Massachusetts (Boston) and Syracuse, so I've not had much time to blog. My overnight of mischief with Ali was pretty tame by our standards, and I only took one decent photo, so I don't have much to share, in spite of the build-up in the last post.

Then I was off to Boston with my cousin Susan to visit my niece Avery, and take my sister Cheryl out for a night (actually 2) on the town. In spite of (or because of) having spent the better part of 2009 in a hospital with her daughter, Cheryl decided to dare us all to run (repeatedly) through the fountain at Prudential Center. We don't need much coaxing...and quite frankly, after all my sister has been through, if Cheryl had asked us to walk against traffic on the yellow line, we would probably would have indulged her, so the fountain was just plain fun. She then dared me to wade in the reflecting pool, which earned me a serious scolding by the Prudential security madame with the big flashlight. Kinda scary (not!)- unfortunately it was dark and we could not capture this second dare, but here are some of the highlights (above).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thelma n Louise (with a better ending- we hope!)

After about five minutes of careful consideration and another five minutes of intense planning (and several hours to deliberate our wardrobe choices), my friend Ali and I are off on a road trip - just a night - or most of it - or possibly part of another day - or not... we really don't know except we'll have about 12 hours of driving time, round trip, with my dog Max, to expound at great length and painful detail on our strangely parallel lives, eat, laugh, hear some good music and generally find just a bit of mischief.

These photos are from our last haphazardly planned get together, which included flavored martinis-I've already forgotten what flavor; fishnets, 80s prom dresses, a hula hoop, redneck barbie and bunny ears.

Maybe more Lucy & Ethel? Or can you think of another dynamic female duo???

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sunflowers, I just love 'em

I can't resist at least one post each summer dedicated to my favorite flower. I just love everything about them -- Their size: so large they look almost comical in contrast to my manicured shrubs -- their color: some very yellow, some with red highlights, some more ochre and brown -- their shape: round and happy and symmetrical -- their seeds: that attract and feed the summer birds and bees.

In my garden they grow whereever the birds drop them out of the feeders, so I never quite know when or where or how many I'll have.

This is the last of them for this summer, brightening my dining room table.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Fish imitating life..."

Many of you ask how my sister and her husband have managed to cope with my niece's condition over the last nine months. Humor plays a big part...

We are saddened to start tonights update with the news that "Daddy the goldfish" is no longer with us.

Mike (whom "Daddy the goldfish" was named after - by Avery of course) was found belly up tonight when Mike got home.

Avery received her 2 goldfish a year and a half ago -- on Easter Sunday - from her Aunt Jesse and Aunt Mary.
Avery which - she affectionately named them "Daddy" (after Mike) and GiGI (after my mom - Avery's grandmother).

Needless to say - Mike's response to being named after a goldfish was:
"this is my worst nightmare - I have to live trapped in a tank with my mother-in-law" :))

Anyway - after I received the news this evening - I called my mother to let her know. She was inconsolable.....laughing.

Of course when Mike told me - I asked him "how GiGi the fish was doing" -- his response:
"she is fine - happy to be eating her food all by herself as if nothing ever happened - and every now and then - she will swim around and bump into him."

So - all in all - "fish imitating life"

As for Avery - I am happy to report - she is MUCH better than Daddy AND GiGI! She is a little more awake today and we were able to start weaning her ventilator a little bit more.

We are still battling this infection as well as trying to heal her belly wounds. We are also trying to figure out when the best time is for her to go to the cath lab for her first post transplant biopsy. When this does occur - we will place new "clean" lines in her - but want to make sure we have her blood cultures clear before that - so her new line doesn't get infected.

We are also continuing to follow her creatinine (for renal function) which is still elevated but stable. She continues to pee very well - so this is reassuring - but "mom" a data driven gal - so she won't rest until the number is just right :)

We will keep you posted and please continue the prayers!!

Cheryl and Mike

Monday, August 10, 2009

Avery - on the road to recovery...

Avery continues to have a lot of swelling and the usual balance of fluid levels after major surgery, so she will not be closed up until Wednesday. She has a very long road of recovery, but thanks to all of you and your support, wishes, prayers, she's well on her way. Here is the latest update my sister sent us Sunday night...

"No longer an only child..."
Hi everyone,
As promised - tonight's update is dedicated to Avery's donor - and in our minds and hearts - her new sibling - a child we love as if they were our own.
Yesterday - one of Avery's nurse's asked me "did you feel it"?
I asked her - "feel what?"...and she responded - "her heart - it is so strong beating inside of her"
Avery's heart is literally covered only by a thin bandage made out of plastic - so you can literally gently place your hand over it and feel her new heart "jump up and hit the palm of your hand" with each beat.
At first I thought - I have no intentions of putting my hand there -- but being the mom and insanely curious nurse that I am -- I did.
It was overwhelming on every level!
I could not help but think of the parents of Avery's donor - some how wishing I could hold their hand there too - so they could feel the life of their child inside of Avery.
We hope that one day - God willing - if the donor family wants to - that we are able to meet them...and even more so...that they are able to meet Avery and know her story! They will forever be part of our family.
It is inexplicable to even imagine what they have experienced and the void that losing their child will leave in their lives.
We pray that God gives them strength and that they somehow find peace in knowing what they and their child have done for Avery and our family.
The following is a song that my dear friend Julie heard the morning of Avery's transplant. I had never heard of it - so I looked up the lyrics.
I cannot think of words that could better capture what "We Wish" for Avery and her donor.

written by: Jeffrey Steele and Steve Robson
recorded by: Rascal Flatts

"My Wish"
I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walking until you find the window,
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile
But more than anything
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
and you never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
I hope you never look back, but you never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.
More than anything
This is my wish...
~Cheryl and Mike xo

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Avery will get a new heart - TODAY!

Beep... Beep... Beep!
(was the sound of the pager that alerted my sister and her husband at 2 am)...
Excerpted from Avery's carepage updates...
Good morning everyone! Avery's heart has been found. She went down to the operating room at 5:35 a.m. and we are told she will be there for most of the day. We got the call around 2 a.m. Her transplant cardiologist Dr. Betsy Blume told Cheryl it is "the perfect heart."
Her surgeon Dr. Francis Fynn-Thompson left his vacation on the Cape and drove here to the hospital around 4 a.m.
We don't have any information on the donor or where the heart came from... and we may never know.
Please say a prayer for Avery, her donor and their family today.
We will keep you posted once we have more information.
Thanks for all of your prayers, messages and support!
Mike, Cheryl, and Avery

These are Avery's most recent photos with her parents, in the hospital garden, enjoying some watermelon. To the left of her mom is the IV pole with her meds, and in front is the Berlin heart that has been keeping her alive and allowing her to build the strength she needed to receive a new heart.

I cannot thank you all enough for sharing this journey with us. Your prayers, good wishes and messages of support have made a huge difference for all of us. I will continue to share information as I know more.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sacred Spaces...

Sacred Spaces-Home. 11 x 14 acrylic & mixed-media collage on deep set canvas.

That's the theme of the exhibit I will be participating in from Sept 3 to Oct 29 at the Colonie Town Hall in Latham, NY. This is the first of 4 or 5 pieces I will be exhibiting.

I was recently invited by my friend Marilyn to become a member of a newly-formed local artists group - art 'round town (a.r.t.), and since the rules are few and participation is flexible, it sounded like just the right opportunity for a rules-resistant, deadline-hating artist such as myself.

And although I am busy with a lot of things this summer, I loved the theme for this exhibit, so I could not resist participating.

Here is the flier promoting the event:

If you're in the area, stop by the Town Hall and check out the exhibit!

Monday, August 03, 2009

My crush "of the month"...

Okay, so it's been waaaay more than a month since I posted my last crush. In fact, it's been about two years. It's not that I haven't had any other crushes, celebrity and otherwise, I just kind of forgot this particular blog topic until the other day.

You see, early this summer, my sister Jesse asked me if I wanted to see Kenny at the NY State fair (at the end of this month), and I said sure. I actually like his music and even own a couple of his CDs. I just wasn't all crazy about him like most of his (mostly female) fans seem to be. I have, in fact, resisted the charms of this particular cowboy for more than a decade, while my sister has not missed a concert within a hundred mile radius, and owns every CD he's ever made. I must even confess that after one particularly unfortunate wardrobe choice Kenny wore to the CMA awards back in the late 90s, -- a white, sequined Elvis-style jumpsuit -- I was one of those who suspected he might be, well, a little Brokeback Mountain -- not that there's anything wrong with that,(and I now believe that I was wrong) but I teased my sister unmercifully about the fact that her favorite cowboy probably didn't like her as much as she liked him.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, my sister gave me this CD and I am smitten. It's a little Jimmy Buffet, perfect for summer, and I am just reggae-in' all over the place and loving this guy's mellow vocals and laid back carribean charms. After I sang Jes my best rendition of Key Lime Pie for the fourth time, and told her how I want find a way to get backstage at the concert, she finally confronted me -- " I think you have a bigger crush on Kenny than I do!"

And for this month, at least, she's right!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Did I say tomorrow? I really meant, um, never.

I just read my last post to see where I left off and apparently I had promised photos from a recent art gathering "tomorrow." That was a week ago. What can I say? Time flies! And when I finally opened the file with the photos I took, they were all blurry. Have I mentioned lately that I am one of the world's worst photographers with my digital camera? The camera I've had for 4 years? And every January I make a resolution to actually read the manual and learn to use it? And then I don't? Have I mentioned that lately?

So in lieu of my own photos, I will link you to the blogs of some of the attendees who actually do know how to use their cameras -- Tabitha and Ginger.

It was a perfect day. The hostess, a very good friend of mine, is an event planner as well as an artist, so in addition to good company, we had great food, beautiful surroundings, and a seamless choreography of the day's events. She even managed to make it stop raining -- no small feat this summer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Heart strength

16 x 20, mixed media acrylic & collage on canvas

I have a number of new paintings in the works - several more in the heart series, which will continue at least until my niece gets her transplant*, and a new series of 4(or 5) for an upcoming local show with a new group of artists that I have joined. I will be providing more info as the date gets closer and when the official logo for our group has been approved.

*FYI, Avery is doing very well with her Berlin heart, eating, drinking, making crafts and even taking trips out to the hospital garden during the day.
I am also on the verge of meeting with one of my co-conspirators in art to discuss some workshops that we would like to offer, so teaching will be back on the table very soon.

I would tell you more, but so many details are still up in the air.

Tomorrow I will share some photos from a weekend luncheon and artist's date that I attended. It was so great to hang with a group of "art girls" for an afternoon.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Art therapy?

As some of you know, my sister Jes and I visited my niece (and sister, and brother in law) in Children's Hospital last weekend. As always, it is soooo good to see Avery when she is awake and alert and on the road to receiving the ultimate gift. Not to mention how good it is to be able to take my sister out for just a little while to give her some much-needed respite from the daily stress of caring for (and worrying about) Cutes.

During the visit, we spent a good deal of time in Avery's room, and I had time to take in all of the wonderful cards, letters and works of art created by her classmates and friends. Her walls and windows are a celebration of hope and color and creativity, and well, in the middle of it all... one big, black sorta scary painting of a shark.

During this visit, I also happened to be reading this book, which is a fictional novel based on the very real shootings by two students at Columbine High School in the 90s. So I look at the shark painting, for probably the fifth time that day, and I say to my sister Jesse, (somewhat jokingly), "they'd better keep an eye on this kid when they get older," and my sister responds, with a smirk "um, that would be YOUR NIECE!"

So, as you can see from this painting, which I was allowed to take with me, and which I now have hanging in my office to intimidate my colleagues, Cutes is definitely expressing her frustrations about having spent the better part of 2009 in a hospital bed.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

From her little heart...

From her little heart - 12 x 12 acrylic mixed media collage on deep set canvas.

I've finally returned to my art room after an unplanned hiatus, and this is my first finished piece. To give you an idea of how I create, and the kind of planning that goes into my paintings...I dropped a paintbrush on the floor as I was working on this piece, and saw the watch faces in a box under my table as I bent to pick it up. That's how it ended up as part of this painting. It's very often that simple. It's one of the reasons I like to have art supplies and found objects stored in open containers around me. It looks messy and chaotic, but if they're in my line of sight, and I don't have to break the creative flow to find them, they're more likely to end up in a finished piece.

In other news...
I was interviewed a short time ago by fellow artist and blogger Liz Ness, and the interview has now been published on her blog. Check it out. Liz and I have never met in person, but we've been fans of each other's art and blogs for several years. Take your time when you visit Liz' website and blog (which she maintains with friend and artist Jackie Wood) -- it's full of great artist interviews, digital tutorials, product demos, and a great online store, to name just a few.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A glimpse of summer around my house...

I am really loving the summer this year. Even with all the rain, we've have relatively cool evenings until this week, and I love opening the windows wide and listening to the birds singing outside my windows.

And Cutes (my niece's nickname)is doing well. She's had all of chest tubes removed and is slowly being weaned from pain meds, ventilator, etc. Next week, I have will have a Cutes-related giveaway. Stay tuned!!

Have a good weekend all!