Saturday, October 25, 2008

still working

It's been a busy week. I have been super busy at the office so I haven't gotten much time in at the studio. I've finished another painting and started on one last one. I still need to leave time to varnish and clean up before next weekend.

Monday, October 20, 2008

more painting updates

I have been mostly absorbed with painting and getting ready for open studios. Since it's only a few weeks away, I'm happy to say that I have 4 pieces finished, one halfway there, and another still in the starting blocks. I'm feeling good about having some smaller (and cheaper) work to show. I'm still enjoying my San Francisco Close Up series. To see the work I did for last Spring, you'll have to go to my website. Here are some sneak peeks that I will post to the website next weekend or so. First up is the completed Askew painting. 127 lightbulbs in that A, I'll have you know. Next to it is the just started, yet almost done A Grey day, still missing some lightbulb detailing.

Under that are two smaller clock detail paintings. First is Almost Eleven and next is Half Past Six. The two clocks are my first completed acrylic paintings.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Work in Progress

This is just an update of some work in progress. I've got to finish one for the Artspan Gallery as part of this year's Fall Open Studios. The last time I was able to show here I sold the painting. That one was also a last minute paint and hang piece and I don't even have a photo of it. This year I am doing some smaller pieces based on my San Francisco Close Up series. The first one is an abstract Sutro tower, which may be just about done. It's interesting how looking at the painting through a photograph helps to see what isn't quite done or when it's finished.

The second one is an A from the Ghiradelli sign. This particular one is called Askew. Not only is the perspective a little askew (I even got a little dizzy taking my reference photos from this odd angle) but the frame I used to wrap the paper is also not square. I don't know if anyone will notice, but I'll be sure to tell whoever buys it, since it can't be framed in a normal squared frame. I still need to do a lot of work on the Askew painting. I'm definitely putting off the painting of the light bulbs. I liked the idea of them, but the actual painting of 50+ bulbs is less exciting.

Both of these paintings are done in a wrap-around style. The painting extends around the edges. I saw a painting in the CCSF gallery done this way and I was intrigued. Doing these painting was also fun, so if it's well received, you can be sure to see a lot more of these. Both are still in regular watercolor and will be spray varnished so that no additional glass is needed. I intend to do some smaller acrylic paintings with a watercolor technique. I've already prepped the wood panels, so all that's left is the painting.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

100 little indians in a row

On a friend's recommendation, I made a point of driving down the Great Highway to Ocean Beach on my last AWS Friday. It was a little foggy on the coast, but it didn't take away from the view that day. San Francisco-born artist, Thom Ross, had erected his beautifully painted plywood cutouts along the beach in the same place as a his inspiration, a black and white photo of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show, was taken back in 1902.

I took a few photos with my iPhone but the photos don't properly capture the scale and the fabulous detail work on all 100 life-sized pieces. I loved the flags, ribbons and feathers that were integrated into the painting as they flapped in the ocean breeze. It was a very enjoyable afternoon distraction. Below is my favorite indian. I was hoping someone would go up and pose while I was here, but alas no takers.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

stretching paper

I am branching out, so to speak, and trying something new. I was at a art material expo and was chatting with an artist who had these wonderful watercolor paintings of crystal and glass. She stretches her paintings over wooden stretcher bars and I was inspired to do the same. I boughts some big beefy bars so that there would be some substance to it and perhaps it would look so good I wouldn't have to frame it.

First I started with a big sheet of watercolor paper. I wet it in the tub and after the first couple of times I managed to stop spraying myself. I let it hang a bit so that I wouldn't slop too much on my way to the kitchen table.

I cut the paper about 3 inches over the frame and trimmed it again once I set the stretcher bars over the paper. I tried a bunch of different corner techniques and settled on one that gave me a neat square edge. I was a little worried about the bubbles, but after I stapled the frame using a standard canvas stretching pattern and set it to dry. They came out looking pretty good. I'll be doing some small and some very large paintings on it. I took a varnishing class as well so there are bound to be at least one or two good varnishing stories after I finish up the paintings.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Omnivore 100 meme

I came across this meme on the blog Very Good Taste. While I enjoy the occasional meme i don't tend to do that many myself. But I like to think that I'm a bit of a foodie, so I thought I'd give it a shot. If you want to try this meme yourself, here are the instructions:

Here's what you need to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you've eaten. (The bolding isn't showing up that well with my template. So I used a different color for the foods I have never tried).

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore's Hundred:

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak Tartare

5. Crocodile

6. Black Pudding

7. Cheese Fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht

10. Baba ghanoush

11, Calamari

12, Pho

13, PB&J samdwich

14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from street cart

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras

24. Rice and benas

25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi

34. Sauerkraut

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea

38. Vodka jelly/Jell-o

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects

43. Phaal

44. Goat's milk

45. Malted whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more (I think I’ve had this on a business trip in Boston, but I’d be happy to do this again just to be sure.

46. Fugu

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme orignal glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips

61. S'mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin

64. Currywurst

65. Durian

66. Frogs' legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe

74. Gjetost, or brunost

75. Roadkill (I may have had this if eating a deer hit by a car counts)

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie

78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong

80. Bellini

81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

I was a little surprised how many of these things I’ve tried. Honestly there are some I wouldn’t eat again, but I’m glad that I tried it the one time. I thought I would have a few things crossed off, but decided that if I could eat all but 24 items, perhaps I should leave my options open. A few things I haven’t tried are there merely because the opportunity or finances didn’t allow it yet.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wacky Twinkie Clay Sculptures

A while back I talked about this idea I had to actually sculpt stuff using twinkies. Well I hemmed, I hawed, I bought some twinkies. Then I bought more. I was cleaning and found the bag of twinkies and decided that something had to be done. So I called Becky and told her that I had a wacky idea and that she was just the accomplice for me. Yep this Sunday was the day.

So I pulled out 8 twinkies for each of us and we started cutting them, separating the yellow cake from the toasted brown bottoms.

Then you mush them up. For a while until they start looking like modeling clay. Modeling clay made from twinkies. At no time did I want a twinkie. I knew they were kinda old and the last time I ate them they were incredibly sweet to my palate. But after they start looking like a mushy ball of yellow and brown clay, you really get over any thoughts of eating it. Although I'm quite sure that it still tastes a bit like twinkies. We let it sit for a bit since they were quite a bit soft. After about 20 minutes it started looking good.

I decided to make a monkey since I was using the anniversary flavored banana creme twinkies. Becky began working on her mermaid. It was a little tricky getting the clay to stick to itself, but it came out looking pretty good. Now we just have to wait for the clay to dry.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Our Yosemite Stay

We stayed at Yosemite Housekeeping Camp during our 4 days here. It was a cool setup and perfect for camping lite. We had two sites for the 10 of us. Each site was a "tent" of 3 concrete walls a covered seating area with a round picnic table. The tent had one full size bed and one set of bunk beds. To get all of us in there, we also got a cot for each side. It was a snug fit but we managed. We had a couple of bear boxes to keep our food and coolers that served as refrigerators for the trip. We also had two fire rings with a grate on top for grilling or heating up pots. We had electrical outlets on the cooking table and in the tent itself. I had borrowed a bunch of camping stuff for cooking and brought a propane camping stove and a few other electrical things that I knew we could plug in if we needed as well as a couple of power strips to charge cell phones and DVD players. I'm pleased to say that we were surprising good about keeping the technology to a minimum.

During our stay we relaxed, Dad read his books and battled daily with his nemeses, the common grey squirrels that were pretty much running the park. Cute and Fuzzy? I think not, these little guys would boldly enter your food boxes to steal food and would walk on hot coals, literally to grab food scraps tossed there. One morning we left Dad with the kids and went out in search of Mirror Lake. I can't say it's a must see since it is really much more of a swamp than a lake with all of the overgrowth, plus we were all assaulted by the mosquitoes there. A nice hike up to Vernal Falls was taken one morning. Hana and Aubrey became Junior Rangers and were sworn in before we left. Plus there was bike riding and game playing and S'more making and fire building and fishing. Who will forget the time that Bill got stopped by a Ranger for fishing without a license? Luckily he got off with a warning since they weren't using real lures but a big orange plastic fish to play fishing. Bill and HJ hiked up to Glacier Point while Anne and I took the kids and Dad up the easy way - with the cars! But either way, the views were worth the trip.

On our way out, we drove down to the southern gate to check out the giant sequoias at the Mariposa Grove. The curvy road took down poor Kaitie who held on as long as she could. We split ways at that point with Bill and his family going south to Disneyland and So Cal and Jerome and his family along with me and Dad driving north back to the Bay Area.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

On the Road to Yosemite

It was an especially quiet night at the Lighthouse and I slept really well considering I was in the girls room. I woke up and Annie was already awake and starting on the bacon. I found the coffee and started that brewing. At one point Anne was standing by the back door with a big smile on her face. I asked her what was up and she said that she was experiencing the most amazing thing. Of course I wandered over and found myself with the most wonderfully fresh and clean smell of ocean. The seabreeze was blowing in just perfectly. I smile and said, yeah, that's nice. Anne shook her head and said, "no you aren't getting the full experience, wait a second and you'll see!" Just then, the smell of bacon cooking in the oven washed over me. Oh My God! It was the perfect combination. Even though I was very pre-coffee and it was about 6:30 in the morning, I went and grabbed my camera to capture this moment.

So before breakfast of pancakes, bacon and coffee was ready, I went out with my cup of coffee to gather some photos. While I have every intention of coming back here, I wanted to try to capture some of this morning for painting reference photos and my memory at large. It was super quiet and there were only a few workers wandering around. It wasn't until I came back into the house that I realized I was wandering around in my pajamas!

After breakfast, we stripped down the beds, got dressed and packed up and checked out by 10am. Our earliest start time to date. we wanted to be sure to have as much time as possible for our trip to Yosemite given the limitations of the Rossi Rules of the Road combined with traveling with 3 cars.

After a quick grocery store stop to pick up a few overlooked items, we headed East. The plan was to stop for fresh fruits and veggies at roadside stops. The day was beautiful and the driving was fun. We stopped a couple of times, but never found any veggies we liked. Ah well! There were a few scenic vistas and we all stopped to enjoy them. We did a little musical cars and I ended up driving halfway with HJ and then switched at a gas stop and picked up Anne who ended up driving the last part of the way into the Park.

We got into camp around 5-6 pm, picked up our bed stuff a few chairs and got settled in. HJ cooked another big dinner and we made due with a little cook surface area that looked like with would collapse at any moment. It didn't matter because we were finally at Yosemite!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Overnight at a lighthouse

Awhile back, I went to Pigeon Point Lighthouse to see them light the Fresnel light for their 135 anniversary. While we were there, we wandered through the hostel and I thought it would be cool to stay here some time. We had some open time between San Francisco and Yosemite. I told HJ that there really wasn't much between here and there. Then I remembered the Lighthouse. It's not in between, but also not that far away either.

Sunday morning we loaded up the cars with kids, food, luggage and headed south. Since we were following the Rossi Rules of the Road (RRR) I knew it might take a little longer to get there. 1. Never drive faster than the speed limit, 2. Stop for any interesting vista or stop along the way, 3. I can't remember and 4. Drink an icy cold beer at the end of the day. We headed south on 280 from my house on Potrero Hill, over to the scenic Route 1 along the coast. We didn't get too far before we made the first stop at a cherry stand in Pacifica. I had foolishly taken the lead since I knew where I was going. However being a novice at the RRR I wasn't at all surprised to find my caravan abandoning me just 5 minutes into the trip. Luckily I was able to pull around and join the group at the end. This was more appropriate and lead to less confusion. The rest of the trip was relaxing and we made it to the lighthouse and hostel a little before the 3:30pm check-in time.

We descended upon the beach and the girls and Annie wandered through the tide pools looking for sea creatures. Hermit crabs and sea anemones were found and much sand was able to creep into all of our shoes. A little geocaching was done on the way back up to the hostel. Cool items were swapped. We got checked in by our host, Michael who was very cool. We signed up for hot tub times and went back to unload the cars and get some dinner started. Now I should mention that there is no alcohol allowed on hostel property. So we had to modify our traditional end of the road cold beer for "tea" which was discreetly consumed in coffee mugs. HJ made a huge feast of salad and pasta and sausage. Everyone ate at one big communal table, so it was good that we had the entire Whale building to ourselves. After dinner we settled down and the girls played games. We took our hot tub time and were thrilled to see that it was perched on the far edge of the land. So there was nothing between us and the Pacific Ocean but a thin wire fence and a sheer cliff dotted with ice plants in bloom. We watched the sun set and decided that the grown-ups wanted some star-gazing time after the kids were settled in bed.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What to do in San Francisco with kids

So the week was full of activities. Some of it was driven by key features in the Good Night San Francisco book I bought for Hana and Jeri. We went to see the Sea Lions and the beach and Cliff House to see if there were more sea lions there. We went up to Clement St (the real Chinatown in SF as far as I'm concerned) and picked up some pork buns and noodles at Wing Lee Bakery and BBQ. Then with cheap yummy bits to eat, we went out to visit the Rossi Playground. First time we were here, we came with baked pork bun, but the playground was lame. This time is was all renovated and FUN!. Kids approved of the playground with their name on it. We checked out the Windmill and drove around Stow Lake. We hit the Golden Gate Park Playground again with Amanda. She missed the old swings, but she had a grand time with her cousins sliding down the stone slide and checking out new equipment.

The Exploratorium was a hit, although HJ and I ducked out to get a little shopping done. Warm clothes for the girls and sweat pants for Bill. We swooped back and met the gang finishing up at the Exploratorium. Seems the best time to go is later in the afternoon when the class trips are heading out. Last time we came here it was late and everyone seemed sad to be kicked out at 5pm.

So Wednesday night I picked up Dad. I'm really becoming a big fan of the Cell Phone Park and Call lot at SFO. It's quite hidden, but right next to the Long Term Parking area. You can get back to the terminals in a minute or two so you can wait until they have their bags and swoop down and scoop 'em up. Me I waited until Dad's plane landed, added 10 minutes to get to the gate and another 10 to get off the plane before I head for the parking lot. After picking up 4 groups in less than a week, my timing was spot on.

The next day, we bought day passes and rode on the cable cars to Market St, then down to the Wharf on the old style F Street railway. Today's goal was to catch Musee Mechanique and go to the Aquarium of the Bay. Then work our way back to the hotel a short rest and then onto the 38 Geary to go to a nice place for an Italian dinner. On the way back, we found great stuff at the big Good Will store on Fillmore. I made a huge mistake and handed Natalie a wireless phone. I had assumed that there would be toys for me to do a bait and switch. I just couldn't yank her new favorite toy out of her hand. Michelle called me a light-weight. It's true. I found a couple of books, one with horses you can pet which was a life-saver for me. Whew! Friday we split up and had a low key day. Dad and I caught up with Michelle, Steve and the girls to do a geocache. On the way out, we did one of dad's caches. He spotted a box of junk on the side of the road and we ended up with a working heater, an electric frying pan and a green thermos. Great stuff to take camping. Friday night was a big get together at the new Moonstar in Daly City. Les and Ceal, Cathryn, Crystal and Esther joined the gang for dinner. I had fun messing with the cotton candy. Friday's done time to get packing and ready for the weekend!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day in San Francisco

Now that everyone is here, we started hitting the sights family-style in San Francisco. First thing we did was head out across the Bay to Tilden Park. I was sad to see the Carousel was closed, but the steam trains were running. Someone had commented on Yelp that a day at Tilden, riding the trains, hitting the petting zoo, and noshing on cotton candy and riding the carousel was like a spa day for a 5 year old. With that sort of review, I knew this would be a hit. It was a chilly day and even colder up in the hills. The trains were fun. We even managed to find a geocache there. We had a chilly picnic here and then wandered back to the city. Our return trip was perfectly timed. At 3:15, we were able to not only miss all the traffic backed up in the toll plaza, but avoid the toll by taking our caravan of 2 full cars through the carpool lane. There was some nervousness about it being a holiday, but the police sitting the the side gave us uninterrupted passage. Sweeet! At dinner a little later at Goat Hill Pizza, I asked Bill what he thought about the cool carpool lane move I made. He gave me a huge smile and said, that it totally made his day! We are a thrifty family so something for nothing is always good. Goat Hill Pizza delivered for us again. We had the same spot in the front, so the girls got to watch the pizza being made after they ate their fill. Dinner *and* a show. We went over the McKinley park and played there for a while. I told them down the curvy Vermont street and then back to the hotel to relax and crash.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stage 2 of the fun arrives

So it's Sunday and I got the Pittsburgh, PA contingency from the airport to the hotel okay. After a full day of running around, plus a late night pick-up and hauling of luggage, I'm starting to get tired. Any we are only just beginning! Ah well. So we ended up driving the gang down to Los Gatos to visit with some old college friends of Michelle's. I typically don't see Scott and Shelly unless Michelle is visiting, so I was surprised at how big their kids were. It's really pretty down there. Of course it's a schlep, but Shelly introduced us to a great candy shoppe, which was like candy nirvana. The kids loved it and I thought it was just amazing to see so many different kinds of candy. We drove home and got the BBQ started at my house. HJ and I with help from the others made a yummy sausage, grilled peppers and onions, salad and steak (I think there was steak?) dinner. Kids hung out with their cousins and didn't trash my living room, which really wasn't clean enough for company. We went downstairs to see Gomer the cat. Hana was brave and petted him while Amanda showed that she was an old hand with cats. Even Natalie (who I swooped up and took with us) was ticked to see the kitty cat. Luckily she was gentle and no one (cat, 13 month old or aunt) were harmed during this visit.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stage 1 has landed

Yesterday I picked up the S'pore Rossis from the airport. They were tired yet cheerful. I got a big hug from Hana and a shy smile from Jerika. I told Jeri that it was okay to be shy. She was supposed to be very shy now, a little less on Saturday - maybe we might hold hands crossing the street, but by the end of the holiday she and I would be fast friends, with hugs and eveything. This made her smile and I warned her not to be less shy yet.

I got a text message around 6:30am. (Ugh! Don't they know I'm on vacation too? I have a feeling these time zones are going to be an issue for me.) Seems the girls were up. Hana woke at 3am and she and Bill wandered around the hotel until HJ and Jeri woke up. I sent them off for coffee and directions to see the sea lions, which are always hanging out for free at Pier 39. I did tell them to dress warmly, but they didn't and were too cold to hang by the Pier. They did wander over to the farmer's market for a breakfast of fresh fruits and all were happy. We ended up driving up to Vacaville to do some outlet shopping (HJ's special request) and then to Farfield to go to Jelly Belly factory. On the way back we picked up more coffee for Bill and took the girls to the new playground at Golden Gate Park. There is a great carousel here and we got them in on the last ride at 4:30. It was redone since I was here last with Amanda and the girls were thrilled to be able to come back with their cousin the next day. Off for dinner and a beer at San Wang. This was HJ's introduction to American-sized chinese food. Too much was ordered but it was good and we left there stuffed and happy. We had the fried beef, a spicy seafood soup and the girls had tasty dark noodles (maybe the noodles with plum sauce). Off to go pick up stage 2 arriving from Pittsburgh PA at the airport.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rossi-palooza begins

Today is the first day of a 2.5 week 'reunion' with my family. It all started with Bill, or perhaps it is more accurate to say his wife, HyunJoo (HJ) wanted to spend a holiday in Northern California with their kids. Luckily I am already here and was happy to have them come out. Since Bill and his family live in Singapore, we don't see them that much. Once their dates were locked, the rest of the kids decided that it would be great if everyone could get together. I will admit now, gentle readers, that I am excited and yet a little terrified to have the other 13 members of my immediate family descend upon me. I think we got along okay as kids, but now that the four of us are grown, and most with kids of their own, I 'm not sure what to expect. There are 6 girls or niecelings as I call them in the family. They range from 1 to 10 years of age. I think that they are all beautiful, sweet and clever. They have all developed their own personalities and from my vantage they are all quite different. I love when they get together as they seem to love their cousins to death and every parting is tearful, as if we are ripping a child from her own twin. Dad (aka Grand pop) is coming out too. I hope we don't kill him. But this is the reunion we weren't able to get together a few years ago when we went to Italy. So I'm off to go pick up Bill, HJ and the girls at the airport after their very long trip.

Monday, May 5, 2008

I'm back

I didn't realize that I was going to be "away" so long. But I finished painting 3 new paintings and got cleaned up and organized for Spring Open Studios. So today I've been thinking about all the things I've been wanting to do (or needing to do as the case may be) and realized that a blog update was in order. Gomer is getting to be a regular fixture in the household. If the basement door is open, he will walk up the stairs and come into the house to pester us about food or to see what we are doing. He is a little skittish still, but I expect that will taper off eventually. An interesting development is that Gomer had a girl cat over last night. I was hearing another cat when I went to bed early last night. I meant to go down and say Hi after I closed up after open studios, but didn't. I heard another cat and assumed that they were outside and trying to get in. Given his overall chatty nature, I figured that every cat in the neighborhood knew that he was in the house. I just didn't realize that they would be sneaking in. Well around 11ish there was a ruckus, so Nadine went down to break up the fight and send the other kitty home. We don't know how she got in, but now we are going to have to keep an eye on our boy!

I've also been catching up on my blogs. One of them was talking about how beautiful and fit people are made to feel badly about their size or fitness. While there are tons of reasons to get in shape and stay healthy, what that really means is relative. How do you draw the line between a good habit and an unhealthy obsession? What do we need to do to ensure that we appreciate our strong and healthy bodies? In any case I really enjoyed this parody video. I think you will too.

I'm also starting to think about things to do when my family (the whole kit and kaboodle) show up at the end of May. I'll pull out my calendar program and start adding in arrival and departure days. Then I need to start pulling together things to do, places to visit, restaurants to eat, etc. If you've got ideas of cool things to do with kids and grown-ups in the Bay Area let me know.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Welcome Home Gomer

Over the past couple of days, Nadine has been working tirelessly in the basement trying to clean out the seemingly endless piles of mouse poop she's found down there. They've gotten into the stuffing in her upholstery projects and she's pretty pissed off. So last night she came up and asked how I felt about getting a mouser to deal with this latest issue. While it's not a serious home security issue, mice or rats in the basement are pretty high up there. She's had cats before and while there have been musings over getting a cat, she seemed pretty serious. So as anyone who knows me, I'm pretty easy going about most things, but I was actually excited about the possibility of getting a real-life kitty cat. So, I told her that I was still okay with getting a cat. I went back to my paperwork and she descended into the basement for another round of vacuuming and checking for nests.

So today I was off and decided that I needed to get another couple of boards for my paintings and knew that SCRAP often had large pieces that I could cut down to meet my needs. Nadine asked to tag along to peruse for fabrics. On the way back, I noticed that she passed our turn on Potrero. When she passed the 22nd street turn, I starting thinking. Of course it didn't take long for me to catch on as we turned down Florida street and pulled into SFSPCA. Unlike the average pound or ASFCA location, this one had gotten a grant a while back from a major corporation and the cats and dogs are in seriously cool digs. Kitty condos and TVs are in most private rooms. You can walk around and read little summaries about the animal and see if they might have the right personality for you. So we cruised around and spotted this cat, Cooper, that caught Nadine's eye. We found a volunteer to introduce us and we spent a few minutes with him. He was a chatty boy and came right over to check us out. First he let Nadine pet him and scratch behind his ears. Next he cam over to me and hopped right into my lap! We didn't want to make a hasty decision, plus Nadine was hoping to get a couple of cats. So we went and looked at the bonded pairs. But Cooper had already stolen Nadine (and my) heart. We left to go and check on a friend at the house and talked about the cats we met. Before you knew it we were back to go pick out a cat. We met with Cooper again and decided that he was our guy. That second cat, well maybe later. Turns out Cooper had some medical issues and that it was decided to let him settle in with us (and us with him). If we still want another cat, we can pick them out later.

So I bet you are wondering what's up with Gomer? Well it turns out that our little kitty friend had been in the adoption center for a while. I week before, they decided to put a little kitty curb appeal to work and changed his name from the more humble Gomer to a sexier, tall-dark-and hansome Cooper. While Cooper is a really cute name, we decided that if he was Gomer for 5 years already we'd call him Gomer too. Welcome Home Gomer Sgro! Isn't he just a cutie?

Monday, March 17, 2008


Just a mere 2 minutes and 28 seconds, this video embodies who I am and, more importantly, why I am the way I am. Not only was this a normal part of my childhood, it remains deeply embedded in my brain. Occasionally when I am alone in the car or elevator, this very song will pop into my head. And yes, I will sing both parts.

But for those of you who were wondering if this was a muppet phenomena, the answer is no. The same way that the Barber of Seville was not original done by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. The song was on the pop charts back in 1968-69. And it's original use was as a movie soundtrack, Svezia, inferno e paradiso- those wacky Italians!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi day! I don't usually remember the special days, but with Pi day, 3.14 and the Ides of March, 3.15 right next to each other this one stuck long enough to come up some celebration ideas. So of course with a day celebrating the area of a circle, it only seems right to eat round pie-like things. So we are making pizza pie for dinner and maybe having a pie or tart for dessert.

To learn more about Pi, you can check out this link for the Exploratorium's Pi day celebration.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Trying something new

So on a recommendation of a friend, I've been trying out something new. I've been painting with watercolor paints and other mediums that are similar for so long, I wasn't sure if I could change and learn how to use acrylics. I bought some paints and had been dabbling for a bit. Since I hadn't made much progress, I signed up for a workshop. So we've been messing around and now we are working on a painting of our choice. So here's a picture of the underpainting that I am working on.

So this is first part of the painting. On Wednesday we will do a technique called glazing that will put transparent pigment over the grey scale of the undercoating. The color should make it pop. I'm kinda exciting by the black and white part right now. I can't wait to see how it will look after I add the color. I'll post an up-date with the color version later this week.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Twinkie Goodness

A while back, Cathryn and I met up with an old friend of her. They were having some sort of Girl Scout alumni retreat. The focus was on crafts and relaxation and as we approached the dining hall, we could see two women in massage chairs, working hard at the relaxing part. Since it was still early we took a tour around to see what projects people were working on. One particular activity in the corner caught my eye.

It involved twinkies. Specifically, using twinkies as a modeling clay and sculpting with it. I was horrified and fascinated. I took one of the the instruction sheets, because I will do this. I will sculpt something using only twinkies as the "clay".

Here are the instructions. If you were the person who came up with this idea, please contact me so I can give you proper credit for this.

Twinkies Project

Goal: To sculpt "anything" from 4 packages of TWINKIES

Things you'll need
4 packages of Twinkies - that's 8 cakes total
1 knife
plastic or latex gloves

Step 1: Open 4 pkgs of Twinkies.
Step 2: With a knife, slice off and save the base of each Twinkie.
Note the base is a different color and will provide a contrasting color for whatever you choose to sculpt.
Step 3: Mash all the base pieces together with your hands (this is a great time to put on those gloves) and include as much of the white cream filling that may be stuck to the bases. We will be using every part of the twinkie for this project. Continue kneeding until you have achieved a uniform color and consistency. Set aside in a ball. The stickiness will go away eventually and you will have what resembles "play dough".
Step 4: Do the same with the rest of the bars. This may take a while...persevere.
Step 5: Think of something to SCULPT! Sleeping animal...Christmas tree ornament...pretty much whatever!

Once you've finished sculpting, place on a firm surface to dry. Your finished product will harden and keep FOREVER! It will never rot or mold, but it will always have a bit of that "Twinkie" smell.

If you complete this project one rainy day, please send me a picture so I can post it here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

A week ago, Nadine and I had a scare when two people broke down our front door at about 12:30 am early Sunday morning on Feb 3rd. We were both home when this happened so it was terrifying. To make a long story short (if you want the longer, scarier story email me) we are both okay and actually were able to recover some, not all of the stuff that was stolen.

We've been doing what we can to try to feel safe at home again. I've been doing some reading and home invasions are a different sort of fright you might have if you came home and someone had broken in, took a bunch of stuff and left. The police were great and reassured us that we did everything right. It also seems that this was a random act and not that we were cased and chosen. I realize that when something like this happens it makes other people feel better if perhaps we had set ourselves up to be victimized. Our front door, although fairly solid, looked like an easier target than the others down the street. Once ours is replaced, it will look as tough if not tougher than our neighbors - a solid reinforced steel door with an additional metal security door/gate.

I'm angry that our neighbors didn't do anything. It took them 3 house-shaking tries to break the door. The 2 inch wide solid wood door split in 2 since the deadbolt held tight and the door frame was as solid as the door. The door broke into about 5 pieces as they burst through the entry way demanding money. We decided that we need to know our neighbors better. If something happened tomorrow, I know that I won't worry about meddling or interfering and I will call the police without a second thought.

I also have added a few numbers to my cell phone. Neither of us knew that if you called 911 from your cell phone, that you may end up at the state police and not the local police department. It's just the luck of the cell phone towers and proximity to the highway apparently. Nadine was on hold for over 2 minutes as she hid in the backyard trying to call for help. Luckily I was able to take advantage of the situation and get out. Once I saw them leave in a waiting SUV, I ran back and called from the house landline. I got someone on 911 immediately. You should know this and have a house phone near your bedside. We do now. Call your local police and fire department and ask them for the direct dial numbers and add them to your cell phone. In San Francisco Police emergency dispatch is 415-553-8090. If you want to report non-emergency suspicious activity, call 415-553-0123.

While I don't want to scare you, gentle readers, this is something that does happen. If you want to do what you can to make your home as safe as possible, here are some links to prevent crime from happening in the first place:

Crime Doctor
National Crime Prevention Council
Crime Prevention Tips

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is it Spring yet?

I've been having a hankering for fresh herbs. Every time I pay money for an anemic bundle of wilty herbs at the supermarket I tell myself that I should already have these things in the backyard. What sort of person buys fresh herbs? Well with any luck I won't be one of those people anymore. Around Christmas time I bought a little mini-greenhouse thingie and some seeds. Once i got back from New York, I set up my little house, soaked the cute little peat pellets and sowed my seeds.

I did something similar last year when I had the desire to paint Chinese Lanterns and thought it would be cool to grow my own. That didn't turn out so well, but given my earlier success with tomatoes, I'm willing to try it again. So I've chosen to start with three things, cilantro, parsley and mint. The first two I chose because those are the ones I buy the most by the bunch to cook with and the mint I chose for summertime iced teas and to muddle into yummy mojitos.

The fact that all three are hearty plants and are supposed to grow like weeds once they get going was the clincher for me. The photo is after only two weeks of growth. The tall ones in front are the cilantro and already starting to show a curly leaf on their second set of leaves. In the middle is the mint. They don't look like much now, but I've already told them how happy I am to have them growing for me. In the back is the parsley. Every day I see a new seed sprouting.

I feel like a kid coming into the office to see how they are doing each morning. I have co-workers visit to see how they are doing. Seriously, they walk right over to check them out and then leave without saying anything to me if I'm on the phone or something.

Stop by to see how my garden is growing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Baby it's souper cold outside

Now I realize that it's a lot colder in a lot of other places, but man oh man it's cold outside. I am the first to admit that I'm a big ol' baby and have lost my ability to tolerate hot and cold. I also know that my heat miser brother in Singapore and the cold miser brother in Minnesota are snickering at me. Snicker away, because I have found a bright side to all of this. This week I'm calling my bright side, Spicy Goulash. Next week I'm thinking chicken soup. I've been watching Jamie Oliver's new show, Jamie at Home and just the word goulash made me think of my mom and comfort food. I'm not sure what the deal is serving this dish with rice. But my German mother wouldn't dream of serving this with anything but egg noodles. I was actually kind of excited by the idea of egg noodles. I even found some nice hearty whole wheat noodles that was the perfect foil to Jamie's goulash recipe.

Now I really need to find a few people to start a soup club with me. I love soup. Nothing warms the soul and all your other bits as well as a nice soup. I think the only thing better is a nice soup that someone else has made. Right? So if you are interested, intrigued and willing to make soup on command then let me know.

On a separate note, I'm going to be adding old posts from my old blog, starts and stop and Tune Talk in to this blog. I'll be using the original dates, so they will show up as archived posts. Once I'm done I'll let you all know.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Squirrel in a sweater


There are many things in life that just make you go, huh?, but this one I believe deserves a capital H. I don't know who to credit for the first spotting of this cute squirrel. It might have been randomly found on Cute Overload. After checking it out again last night, I thought to snopes it. The crazy thing is that she appears to be totally real, not photoshopped or gasp, taxidermically preserved, and her name is Sugar Bush Squirrel, squirrel of a thousand outfits. After about 20 minutes of horrified fascination, scanning every photo and watching the video montages, you just have to ask the next logical question, why? Why would you fashion thousands of squirrel-sized outfits and post them on the Internet.

Okay, I know. It's all about keeping Sugar Bush's Mama in the bling. I suppose we all need to have a purpose in life and this is her purpose. Now if you think I'm looking down on this enterprising woman and her fashionista squirrel. You are dead wrong. I checked out Sugar's My Space page (we'll be friends soon, so I feel okay calling her by her first name) and she's got some serious star friends. I mean if Jimmy Buffet and Eminem both hang with the squirrel it's got to be good, right?