Friday, November 30, 2007

Am I Normal?

Ok, tell the truth, what did you feel inside, just now, when you saw that picture? Or what about this one? Today, my bro' Chris sent Mom and me the Tiffany website. I opened it, glanced at it, yawned, and typed back, "I know I'm weird, but I'm missing the Tiffany gene." And Miss V had to 'splain me what 'Coach' is. Let's face it: I use the same purse until it's in shreds and I'm in danger of losing it due to abused & threadbare straps. I have never matched my bags to my outfits - my only purse criteria is that it has to be 'Big Ass' so my journal will fit in it.

Oh, NOOO! -- Did I hear gasps? What can I blame it on? Growing up wild with brothers & uncles & male cousins & tomboy Aunts & a dignified and somewhat fashion-conservative mama? Pre-menopause? My blond hair? Subscribing to Vogue but only for the pictures, for collage & 10-minute art & journal use? Or is there such a thing as T.I.S. - Tiffany Immune Syndrome? I couldn't sleep for thinking about it. Wondering. Doubting.

Oh, the insecurities! Because, sigh, I also have to confess that not only do I not like (or even care about, or ever think about) Tiffany & Co., I'd also own only 3 pair of shoes if it weren't for my Mom. Boots, flip flops, slippers, the essentials, right? RIGHT? (Come on, help me!!!) I don't lust for Jimmy Choo stilettos. I only learned what UGG's were after they went out of style. I thought Steve Madden was a comedian.

And I didn't know what the 'Rachel' haircut was until Friends was in reruns for, maybe, the 4th year.

Am I normal?

I DETEST malls; I get rashes coming out of them, from that Mall Smell saturing my pores. It's particular stores I adore -- Williams Sonoma, Z Gallerie, Anthropologie, anything with books. If I can find a stand-alone version of any of those places, I'll drive miles and hours out of my way to avoid a mall.

I don't even like diamonds. I mean, I seriously think they're an ugly gem.

Diamonds. Ugly. I'm in trouble, aren't I?

No shoes. No diamonds. No weekly styling, pedicure, manicure, mask, wax or makeover for me. No mall trolling. No handbag molesting. No nose pressing up against the latest Sarah Jessica Parker window display at Nordstroms. (I don't think I've ever even set a booted or flip-flopped foot in Nordstroms.) Tiffany Immune Syndrome. Designer-Comedian Dyslexia.

-- Wait! Hold it! Just a doggone second -- I'm thinking! --

HEY! I know what the problem is! (whew)

You see, the problem is, I have this very specific way of doing math. Let me demonstrate. Imagine: One pair of on-sale Jimmy Choo stiletto's: conservative estimate, uh [big time guess here], but let's go $500. Toni cocks her head, raises her left eyebrow (I can do that, for real), then shrieks: "'SCUSE ME, BUT DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH $500 WOULD BUY AT MICHAEL'S, ESPECIALLY WITH THE HORDE OF COUPONS IN MY BIG-ASS PURSE?"

Yep, that's it, that's my formula. Pretty good, huh? Prevents financial & emotional hemorraghing (& if I spelled 'hemorraghing' wrong, sue me -- I almost typed hemorrhoids. Both are apropros, actually!)

My formula is also a huge contributing factor to the on-going success of my 21-year marriage: I'm a cheap date, and proud of it. I don't need diamonds, Lover, just a $20 gift certificate to Joann's. A new outfit? Oh, you DOLL! But can we go to Good Will or Savers, so I can also get a couple of books to alter, a cool rack for my Lumiere paints, a pretty piece of china to bolster my studio desk-top clutter, & a stuffed Kermit the Frog to distract Zoe so she'll leave my keyboard alone for 6 minutes? And what's that, Big Boy? New shoes because the ones I have are starting to look like Mabel-from-the-Home? Oh, I really appreciate the thought, but -- naw, how 'bout that set of Gel pens I showed you on the Stampington website?

I'm not only normal. I'm easy! I think I can sleep now.


My Mom's ex-boss, Kate, used the term 'Shero' to refer to women who mentored her, or whom she admired. I loved it and adopted it, even made her a Shero doll for her kitchen. Veronica's Shero is Paula Deen. Someone I really respond to is Sarah Ban Breathnach, who wrote "Simple Abundance", "Something More", and "Romancing the Ordinary", among other things. I have all those on audio CD, and often (very VERY often) I listen as I'm arting. She does her own reading, and she's got one of those SO easy, SO friendly, SO "I'm sitting with ya at your kitchen table" voices, like she's someone I've known since I was in diapers and crashing Tonka Toys in the dirt with my older brother. Everything she writes/reads about just feels like a celebration of every nuance of being a woman, and is such encouragement to draw a slow deep breath, slow down, look around, be IN THE MOMENT. I gravitate toward several books that encourage simplifying and simplicity (without preaching), but none enfold me like Sarah's. (See, I even feel like I can call her Sarah, this author I've never met.) I highly recommend her, in written AND audio form!

My New Secret (Sorta) Crush

[picture from, google searched] Please meet Monsieur Marcel Cerdan. My brothers, Mom and I watched the movie "La Via En Rose", about Edith Piaf, over last weekend. Wrenching movie, I had NO idea her life was such unceasing misery! The love of her life was Marcel Cerdan, even though he was married when they met. He was the world heavyweight boxing champion and was killed in an airplane crash on his way to meet Edith Piaf in New York and fight, I think, Jake La Motta. Anyway, ooh la la, Monsieur Cerdan was certainly a luscious male creature, don't you think? I'd be MORE than happy to help him with his luggage!!


We desert dwellers haven't had measurable rain in FIVE MONTHS ... I'm actually weepy over this! I could hardly stay in my chair at work, despite it being FRIDAY and PAYROLL and MONTH END and A/P CHECK RUN DAY ... gray-violet skies, downpours, the clouds constantly changing. Man. I got home too late to shoot any pictures of puddles (PUDDLES!) but I did go outside and do an impromptu dance, kind of a "when you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way" West Side Story number. Now I have the shivers but they're happy shivers. Zoe climbed into my lap and immediately back out (wet skirt), shaking her paws in disdain. HA! The forecast suggests rain all weekend (we tend to be skeptical about promises of rain in these parts), but if it turns out to be true, well then! Toni is staying in her studio and working on the Miss V canvas, then curling up with my new book, called "Poemcrazy, Freeing Your Life With Words", by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge.

Want to know a secret? (shhhhhhhhh) I LOVE that song from the original Mary Poppins soundtrack, the one Dick Van Dyke's chimneysweep sings: "I love to laugh, ha ha ha HA!" I gotta get that soundtrack, ya know?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Google Alert

Ok, Miss V explained it to me. Even sent me the sign-up page. hee hee. I think I need way more blog miles under my belt before such a thing might be useful! I totally get Claudine Hellmuth doing that, she's got licensing out everywhere, she's published, people are probably VERY wont to bandit her stuff. BAD BAD BANDITS!!!! But oh my, I read my ENTIRE blog and the only time I mentioned Claudine was in my Blog Sorority entry -- so rats! Does that mean she really only found my blog cuz she got alerted I'd used her name? ---- stop it, Toni! doesn't matter, the Universe uses whatever means it can, finesses the finest of points, do NOT allow your bubble to be burst!!! (I'm smiling, here, not to worry!)

Daniel and Mariane Pearl

First, can somebody please 'splain me what a 'google alert' is? Cuz that's how Ms. Hellmuth said she found my blog. (I know, I know, what a dunce!)

When Mariane Pearl's book, "A Mighty Heart" was first released, I read it. She is an articulate, infinitely intelligent and interesting woman - the book was pure anguish to read yet perfectly written. I was, in two words, blown away. I pre-ordered the movie not so long ago, in which Angelina Jolie (At Mariane Pearl's request) starred. In anti-typical Toni response to DVD's, I watched it the same day I received it in the mail. And I was blown away. Angelina embodied everything I had sensory-collected about Mariane Pearl. And the movie was anguish to watch but, again, perfectly performed, paced, presented. I read, later, that most viewers found it slow, that there didn't seem to be enough story, and not enough focus on Daniel Pearl. But I thought, contrarily, that it was the ONLY story that could have been told -- the enormity of the effort to find him, the zillions of suspects, phone numbers, relatives, searches, all the law enforcement agencies involved (this was international, after all), the endless waiting waiting waiting. Mariane Pearl said in an interview I found that she couldn't justify telling what Daniel was going through because she didn't know, then, and knows very little more now, and she wanted an honest portrayal of the events as a legacy for their son, Adam.

Since I read the book the first time, I've written several journal entries about that tragedy, about Mariane Pearl (whom I have since 'kept up with'), about the deaths of journalists everywhere, ongoing. Since I started doing visual art, I've had in the back of my mind doing a piece about it, but never any serious thought as to what it might be. It was just one more urge, in the back of my mind. I'm re-reading the book now, and have given more time to letting my mind wrap around the idea of the piece, and last night I got a big brainstorm about it, so I know it's moving from back burner to frontal lobe. Interestingly, the idea involves the windows of business envelopes, and doubly interestingly, for 2 weeks now, I've been cutting out those envelopes and putting one here, there, in my journal entries. (There is one over the doll image in my I MISS VERONICA 10-minute art, which I posted here.)

One of the main tools used in trying to keep up with the infinite amount of information, tips, contacts, leads, connections, in finding Daniel Pearl was a kind of white board with his name in the center, and arrows all over the place pointing at different names, times, places. More central names were circled in particular colors, etc. If anyone has ever seen the movie "A Beautiful Mind", then envisioning such a vast kind of visual structure of information is easier because of the boards the main character constructed in that. I envision a huge flowchart of sorts, and that's where my idea for the piece takes off. But because there were so many stops and starts, retracings, turning over of organizational and human 'rocks', I thought the envelope windows could be used to create the effect of innumerable layers -- the layer(s) beneath would be visible that way, & definitely effect the feeling of frustration, futility, infinity, that those searching for Daniel Pearl MUST have felt!

That's as far as I've gotten. Now I want to watch the movie again, and sketch or jot down notes as I watch, to see what reveals itself to me.

Stardust Overdose

We dwell in an amazing, endlessly generous, and ever-unpredictable universe. For months now, months! I've been journaling about expanding my web & weave of female association ... written journaling, visual journaling, visualization/prayer, being sure to talk out loud & very specifically about all of the above even if the conversation was just with Zoe, upside down & purring & passed out in my lap. Maybe I've said enough on this blog already, in these 3 short months, to emphasize my absolute belief in synchronicity and the power of visualization. Really I can't function in 'future tenses' without visualization when it comes to Big Events, Big Ideas, etc.

So, last night, there I was, posting a blog entry, just my typical blog-bluster about some things I had observed, & I was in a great mood, too, when I wrote it. [I had just re-watched ALL of Suziblu's journaling videos, then played 20 minutes on the floor with I'm-Here-Ta-Shred-Ya Zoe.] Anyway, my blog sometimes feels like my 'aloud dialogue' with the universe, and helps me hone in on the specifics of my hopes, dreams, directions. Last night, it was definitely my way of doing a mandela without mandela-ing, savvy?

But ...whew ... (body tremor, it's been happening to me since 6:30 this morning) ...

Waiting for me this morning was one comment, which I just KNEW was going to be Miss V.

But no, it was ... (are you ready for this? because I most definitely was NOT!)


She wrote: "I found you. I added you to my blogs links with the name Undertones here: Happy Blogging!!"

I think I read it, then exhaled & didn't breathe again for 3½ hours except to say, 'Oh my god! Oh my GOD!'

How in the world did Ms. Hellmuth, someone of her caliber & immensity & amazingness & wowza & depth -- how did she ever, EVER, find my blog?

Honestly? Here is how it felt when I read her name & saw her photo attached to the comment: I felt anointed. I grew wings & launched (lurched) off. (This is honestly, exactly, the sensation that went creeping through my stunned brain.)

Ms. Hellmuth, I'm both very sorry, and definitely not sorry at all, for dehumanizing you here with admiration, but I feel like I snorted 42 lines of pure crystalline stardust. HELLO, UNIVERSE!!! in the form of such a gently-stated comment: 'I found you,' from you. And I immediately, also, sent an email to Suziblu, whom I've never contacted, to thank her for the influence and inspiration provided by her journaling blogs.


My brother sent this quote, from a movie called 'Factotum', Henry Chinaski:
"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives, jobs. And maybe your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. it could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery, isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance. Of how much you really want to do it. And you'll do it, despite rejection in the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods. And the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is."

That's how strongly I feel about visualization, and involving the universe in all ideas, jokes, sorrows, plans, prayers, and parties.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blog Sorority

As I mentioned earlier, I was SLOW at work today (at least until about 2) ... so I got on blog after blog, threading my way through lists of each blogger's favorite OTHER blogs, one to the next, adding them to my temporary list for later Blog Auditioning.

Here's what I've been noticing for the 3 months I've been a blogger. Everyone lists everyone else on their favorites ... by that I mean 'Everyone'[Capital E - power bloggers, such as Misty Mawn, Nina Bagley, Claudine Hellmuth, Angela Cartwright] ... it feels to me like a new rendition of an impenetrable sorority. Impenetrable unless I somehow become a teacher (or oft-repeat attendee) at these larger art convention/programs. Impenetrable for fledgling bloggers such as moi who are following the advice of the Effervescent Suziblu [] and creating mandelas about the connections I want to make via my blog.

The other thing I've noticed is how SHORT a period of time most of the folks have had blogs. Seems like 2 years is a HIGH amount of time. So I do have hope -- I mean, it's only been three months, maybe it's kind of like Campfire Girls and I have to earn some blog badges before I start receiving comments from people I don't know.

I don't care about comments so much as CONTACT. Conversation. Dialogue. Exchange. Interaction. All the blogs I love talk unceasingly about the support, encouragement, friendships, community (artistic and personal) they've found because of their blogs. That's what my mandelas are 100% focused on. Envisioning tentacles reaching out their little electronic hands and tickling the others who are meant to find me (and vice versa). While also (at Suzi's suggestion) documenting what I already have in place, along those lines, to be thankful for.

Artists sometimes tend to be alone (not to be construed as lonely) for long long periods of time, while they're 'arting' (& scooting their kittens off their laptop keyboards 29 times per blog entry) ... then suddenly BAM! It IS loneliness, a need to 'talk about it', when everything gets clogged, when everything seems painted in greys and overlaid with fog, when ideas go on sabbatical, when cleaning the studio just can't be avoided via ARTING any longer. I honestly don't have the time or personal make-up to chase down an artists' group, to attend weekly or monthly sessions thither & yon [-- although I'm making mandelas about that, too, to open my heart to that]. But I DO have time for email and blogging and reading, which is why my first priority with the mandelas is for the Internet-community.

C'mon, Women!!!! FIND ME!!!! FIND ME!!!

(& a shout-out to SuziBlu for great journaling videos!!!)

Rezoned Space

Actually, my dream home is to take some oddball space (warehouse, gas station, old bar, school, boat, I don't know!!!) and turn it into my home. Below, example: Architect and IKEA-designer Olle Lundberg lives with his wife in a salvaged car ferry, found in Iceland and now tied to a pier in San Francisco.

"Although he is known for polished modernist houses for high-profile clients, Mr. Lundberg, 51, is no smooth-talking, Prada-draped operator. On the contrary, he is a slightly scruffy scrapmaster, a no-nonsense guy who lives in homes he fashioned from found parts.

Architects are notoriously fond of industrial refuse, from the corrugated metal and chain-link fence that Frank Gehry installed around his Santa Monica bungalow in the 1970's to the shipping containers that Shigeru Ban stacked on a Manhattan pier this spring to create a temporary gallery. But Mr. Lundberg has taken the romance of refuse a step further by surrounding himself, at home and at work, with reclaimed materials. During the week, he and his wife, Mary Breuer, live aboard the Maritol, a decommissioned Icelandic car ferry docked at Pier 54 in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco. "Is there discomfort?" said Ms. Breuer, 61. "Yes, but the trade-off of living where we do is worth it." [source: The New York Times, writer:Raul A. Barreneche, photos Peter da Silva]

Running Amok

This is how I want my house to FEEL. How do I explain this to the alternately baffled-or-indifferent 22 year old Ikea or Pottery Barn or La-Z Boy holiday help clerk, or anyone 'in the field' who is completely without my points of reference? Kitchen is hearth, history, heart, healing, core, center. I don't want modern, but neither do I want rustic. I want the FEELING of this rough-hewn mortar & pestle. I own one of these, a gift from a long-ago known friend named Rey. He and his mother spent considerable time 'starting' it, that is turning the pestle in the bottom of the stoney & pocked & rough mortar to begin smoothing it out. That's what family time in the kitchen does to the kitchen, & mostly to the family! Creates the GROOVE. & you realize I have major undertakings for 2008 -- we're talking creme brulee! Beef stroganoff! Edible French Toast! I need all the groove I can get!
A svelte sort of livingroom [some earlier blogs explained the colors I like, & introduced my lusted-after burgundy recliner!], but I want more than just colors and pieces. I want THIS feeling ... of texture, travel, openness, outdoors, modern-meets-casual? Almost like chic camping. YEA! And LIGHT! And AIR! And not a bunch of 'stuff' on every surface, in fact the opposite! [You cannot believe what a turnaround this is in my design style, after years of country & shabby chic & salvage drooling along with hours of alley trolling (Dad calls it 'Dumpster Diving')]. But I want comfort, my art on the walls. NOT formal! Easy to change around, mix up.
And a bedroom (top, below) which is muted, inviting, a backdrop for the only two worthwhile bedroom activities: sleeping (including napping), and romping with Double BB. [Come to think of it, romping with Double BB is the singular worthwhile bedroom activity, for which sleep readies me!]
[I googled the mortar/pestle photo. The rest are from Domino magazine's Galleries.]

Minnie Driver

From the Movies Rock insert in the December (Holiday Issue) of Vogue:
YESSS!!! She's getting some much much much deserved pub for her music. Both CD's are awesome and still living in my CD player. GO MINNIE!!

Auditioning Blogs

I'm very VERY slow at work today. Slow. Dead. Nothing to do. Since 7:45 a.m. I can't dust because I already did that. I already caught up the filing. I inventoried office supplies and placed an order. I'm good. Which means I'm slow. So ... I've been auditioning blogs. I have 7 that I stick to like glue, but I get a taste for something new, always a good idea for inspiration. And here's how I audition blogs: I check the months of July (my birth month) and September (my favorite month). If the entries from those two months catch my eye (via photos, via writing) then the blog is IN ... not to my PERMANENT blog viewing list, but to my FOLLOW-IT-FOR-A-WHILE list.

These are the blogs that have made it so far today: [ok, this one made it without either a September OR a July entry, because it's IN PARIS, and it's IN FRENCH!] [I keep running into this one, and 3 people have forwarded it to me as 'right up your alley' ... ] [another IN FRENCH]

Human Statue of Liberty

Bobfather forwarded this picture to me. It was noted: "From what I can see of the uniforms, this is WWI era. There is no date on the picture. Amazing Photo... A gift from our grandfathers..." I thought it was pretty amazing myself!

Ciera's Posse (Miss V-Note the Shirt!)

Please note the beautimous pink scrapper's shirt Ciera is wearing, compliments of Veronica. She wore it to school. Chris and Ciera extend big THANK YOU'S for the goodies sent for Ciera (which I just delivered this past weekend). Chris said Ciera is getting into stamping (whoo hoo!) ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A November-in-Phoenix Sunrise

I saw this sky outside the door of the office this morning, and recruited my cohort Jeff to go shoot it ... I said, 'PLEASE!!! Do something artsy, too!!' All the building shapes are the material storage bins and flats and so on in the construction yard here.

VERONICA: NOTE Tim Holtz Crackle Paint

I uploaded this 'large', hoping the crackling effect would be obvious. I love this stuff, because it actually CRACKLES!!! Paint it on, let it dry (I hate letting things dry, but this! This is the exception!), eh voila! CRACKLE!! No base coat required. Veronica, click on the picture and feast your eyes on CRACKLE!!!

Relaxation Pages

Today is Gilberto's funeral; I had that on my mind here.
I wanted to try something with an overall masculine sense to it.
I love this one; the hands of the elderly woman started it all, then I just created a sort of 'memory flow', as if the images were her memories. The stamped image in this is by my favorite rubber stamp artist, Lea Cioci. Gorgeous patterned rice & fiber papers that I wanted to use, and a tag I made using a milk stencil technique - yep, dip your stamp into milk, stamp the paper, then heat the stamped image with a heat gun until you reach a level of 'burn' that appeals aesthetically.

Beth Rings the Bell!!!

Beth is my brother Chris' lady love, who has been in treatment for cancer the last few months. Here is what she wrote yesterday: "Well, I just had MY LAST CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENT TODAY........ YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(((((:>)!!!!!!!!! The doc says I am in remission!! I still have to go in for my weekly lab work & my every 4-week Zometa IV (to keep my bones strong, similar to a strong calcium suppliment), but otherwise, no more chemo!!!! My next appointment is on 12/17 where he will review my lab work & decide which hormone (estrogen) blocker to put me me on. We will also discuss what future preventative/proactive measures we will take as well. I am soooooooooooooooo happy..... I got my Christmas wish!!!!" Chris sent the pic, above, and wrote: "Beth had her last chemo today and she is in full remission. WOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO! Attached is a photo of her "ringing the bell" (which you get to do on your last chemo treatment).
She was in such a hurry to get out of there I didnt get a very good shot of the bell or her face. She just wanted to be GONE from there!"

Monday, November 26, 2007

Items to Master in 2008

Ok -- items to ATTEMPT in 2008: Creme Brulee. Apple Pie. Gravy. Tamales. French Toast. Raspberry Tart. Gyro (with LAMB!). Beef Stroganoff. Butternut Squash Soup.

Tempting Creative Activity

I love photographs of kitchens. I love photographs of people cooking, the items they use to cook with, the counters they're cooking on, the aprons they wear to cook in. I love cookbooks. I love to cook when I have time & no hulking, hovering, starving male children breathing down my neck asking, "What's for dinner?" It is also my dream, someday, to walk into Williams Sonoma and know the purpose for EVERY ITEM IN THAT STORE!

Long Weekend

Between a perfect Thursday up at my Dad's, with all my brothers, then Saturday and Sunday over at Cam and Chris' with Mom, I just leaned into RELAXING!!! I did get a few journal pages prepped, while singing aloud to the Classic Rock Z-A countdown ...
I'm trying to be more conscious of leaving myself plenty of open space for journaling.This one (below) is an attempt at a technique in a book I'm reading called 'Mixed Emulsions', which has a jillion ideas for how to alter photographs. Problem is, no room for writing, as well as the fact that even if I'd left room, I used a thick treatment of acrylic and NO pen I own will penetrate that. But I love it anyway! And these two are just me playing with the labels from my new menopause cream that I'm trying. I can't stand that I'm trying menopause cream. I can't stand that I'm old enough to need to try menopause cream. Hence I have to make tongue-in-cheek journal pages about it. Whatever. (smile) & David gave me a muscle magazine he'd bought & was done with, something VERY outside my normal "rip 'n' tear" kind of publication, so I thought I'd have fun with it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Family Gathering

Walking off the bird! Voila, yours truly, getting my canine fix with the ever-available-for-luv Tash. Natasha, "Tash", in her favorite spot on Dad's lap. Toni reading one of Dad's awesome photography books. Yes, it's true, the Bobfather is in love. Let me please introduce the lovely Miss Luz, Bobfather's lady, mother to the impish Florencia (Ciera's new BFF, see below)! Waiting for the bird to cook. New BFF's!!! Uncle Bobby Baird is the Tickle Monster. Smack him on his boom-boom to 'turn him on' -- but whoaaaaa, nelly ... then you have to be able to catch him to smack his bottom again to turn him off!! Taking cover from the Tickle Monster!