Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gift Card Day!!

Two friends and a year's collection of giftcards! What do you do?!!? Well, we made it into an interesting spending spee! The rules? Well, everything is SUPPOSED to be spent on giftcards. That was the original idea of it. Let's use them cards!

Well, we started off by buying some Diet Cokes for our journey downtown. Laura had not had a chance to check out my Halloween Bike Ride painting hanging down at the Salt Lake City Bike Company's bike shop downtown. So thus, we headed downtown Salt Lake City first.

Well, this is where we ran into our first snag! Unfortunately, the Salt Lake City's parking meters do not take Visa. Darn it!! So, we ended up breaking the rule and put a little change into the meter.

Then, after checking out my painting and the other art at the bike shop we were off to the true heart of the shopping spee! Shopko! Starbucks! Target! Sports Authority! From downtown we headed south and managed to hit all of these places within short distances of each other. It really worked out well.

The other giftcard day rule was to figure out to spend the whole amount of the giftcard without going over. Well, we managed to get pretty darn close but no right on the dollar amounts. I had to grab $.17 out at Sports Authority, and the cashier at Shopko got a $.35 tip. (We are such BIG spenders!)

We got some pretty good stuff and had fun with the challenges of spending all those giftcards. Lotions, cards, socks, t-shirts, cups of coffee & tea, pastries, a pair of shoes, a pair of pants, and a really nice sitdown dinner at an Italian restaurant in Sandy. When we were done, it was past Laura's bedtime and we were both felt like we just experienced a Christmas Day in May. It was fun and I look forward next year's giftcard day. Oh, and by the way, if you get me any presents this next year give me giftcards! Thanks!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My 15 minutes of fame?

Yes, I can
now say
that I've
my 15 min. of fame!?! ?
Maybe, a little less than that, and the really bad thing is that I tried on 5 different outfits to look good-but-not-too-good for those 15 min.! Yes, I will admit I was a bit nervous on what to expect. Just a bit! I mean this is kind of a different event and all around I didn't know what to expect. I teasingly asked a co-worker what do you wear at a "Gallery Roll" at a bicycle shop? He answered,"A bike jersey and a formal skirt!" But I really wasn't sure what to expect. I mean it was one of my paintings hanging a bike shop for 2 weeks, with an opening night. Oh, and did I mention that the painting was used on the main page of the Salt Lake City Gallery stroll too! (http://www.gallerystroll.org/ ).(Photo: Myself with the "Halloween Bike Ride")

Well, I got there right at 6pm when the event was supposed to start arriving with a friend that managed to keep me on the "even-keel". Thanks, VanD! There were all ready quite a few people there, and I guess I missed a friend that had all ready stopped by. Then, I guess that Mary, the Popette, had all ready shown up at the shop to supervise where they were hanging my piece of art. She was so excited and proud.

There were quite a few friends that showed up to show their support, and a few that could gave me a call on the phone to see how I was doing. Thank you all! I was amazed at the amount of people. It was a nice steady flow through out the whole night. Well, the "Gallery Roll" will be up until June 1st. So if you didn't get a chance, swing by and check it out. The Salt Lake City Bike Company shop is located at 2nd South and 2nd East. There are several wonderful pieces of bicycle art to view. For some of the art, there are 11" x 17" prints that are available of quite a few works and most of them are about $13, and 40% of those funds go towards the bicycle charity that the artist chose.

As for me, fame was fleeting at best anyway, and I would rather go back to blending in with the crowd! Well, if I can!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mothers, Insurance, Tornados, and... the Wizard of Oz!

It's that time of year when we celebrate Mothers. What wonderful women who put up with us as kids. The kind and gentle souls that often fixed our scrapes, and kissed our boo-boos, then sent us holy terrors on our way to perform more damage. It's amazing that they put up with us as kids, and now a day each year we celebrate them doing all that they do. But I have to admit, as humans, we all have our quirks, foibles, eccentricities, and weaknesses. Mothers, the unconditionally loving souls, are no exceptions. And on this I find myself commenting about my mom...

About a week back I received an email from my Mom....

"... we had a tornado warning out in CR this evening. But it all went north of us in to Wisconsin. The wind is really howling now! Don't worry I have insurance. Love, Mom..." Yes, it's tornado season in Iowa, and throughout much of the Plains.

MOM?!!??!!! Well, of course, I quickly sent her off an email back stating that insurance does not replace her, so thus I WILL worry.
But the more I thought about the email I had visions going through my mind. Visions of the charcoal gray shingled slab house that I grew up in spinning through the air. Spinning and spinning through the air. Of course, totally intact, it lands in the land Wizard of Oz.

My mom steps out on to the porch with her dyed strawberry-blond spiked hair in a Dorothy like outfit. She has the white short sleeve shirt on, topped with the blue gingham print jumper dress. Only she's wearing bright red high-top Keds with red & white striped shoe laces. A much more practical choice than ruby slippers she would explain. (Yes, this is where I got my "good head on my shoulder's" from.)

She's carrying a picnic basket which would of course, contain a wonderful casserole dish that you just have to heat up, and a chocolaty caked dessert with no nuts. You see, you have to keep an eye out for those individuals that have nut allergies--- just to be nice to those poor souls that can't enjoy them.
Instead of a little black dog named "Toto", there's a little mostly black cat called "Buddy". Buddy is wearing a bright rubied collar with a red leash. Yes, Buddy is leash trained. You see, my mom's cat has been treated like a dog since she first got him. She was bound determined to make this cat a "car cat", and go with her on car rides like a dog would. For any of you that are aware, cats naturally have motion sickness issues. But DARN it, mom was going to turn Buddy into a "car cat". And that was that! (Yes, this is where I get my slightly stubborn attitude.) (Photo: Buddy the Lucky Cat!)

Well, she did it! Buddy now often goes with her on trips to the store, or on car trips to northwestern Iowa to see relatives. He rides willingly in her lap, or in sunny back window area. I tell you this cat has it made. Car rides, toys galore, and even his own personal window bench to look out the front window to check on the "goings on" in the neighborhood.

Mothers! Are they not just amazing?! I love her but there are things that I really have to shake my head at. These are those things that make her all that more endearing, and lovable to me. But she's one of the few people I know that will buy a car based solely on a well working radio. I remember a variety of used cars with interesting issues that we went through. We named them interesting names like "White Stallion", and "Ghetto Cruiser". As a single mother with two kids, she couldn't afford much for a car. BUT hey, the radio always did work!

Mom, I love you! And Happy Mother's Day to you and to all of you that are Mother's out there too. No matter what you quirks, foibles, eccentricities, and weaknesses, we love you. Because you've managed all of these years to put up with our quirks, foibles, eccentricities, weakness, and our general naughtiness too. Thanks, mom!


Two gals on the same day! On the same day? Yes, on the same day! Laura and Katie's birthdays are on the same day. Talk about a double dose. (Photo: Laura and Katie with the Birthday Cake.)

Laura had invited us over for cake, ---my Lemon Poppy seed cake with Lemon Cream cheese frosting. Which somehow it became a neccessity that I had to make. Well, I just assumed it was just for Laura's birthday that we were meeting for cake, but no it was Katie's birthday the next day too! (Photo below: Katie trying to blow the candle out a second time.)

Well, Laura ended up with the big haul of presents; but we weren't supposed to bring anything. Except me the cake and Susan the coffee maker with decaf coffee (which was really a half regular and half decaf). Well, we didn't know any better! (Photo below Cindy, Katie, and Em enjoying cake and company.)

And thus, Ms. Laura made out like a bandit! (Photo: Laura with her self portrait. The one up-side down version is supposed to be a reflecting pose--Em's idea- You don't want to give that gal TOO much coffee!)
Well, we started out with the gals and the cake, as should any bit of birthday celebration. Two gals, two candles was the equation. But Katie had a candle that just didn't want to go out. So she had to try to blow it out a second time. Then we all partaked of some cake, strawberries, whipped cream, and beverages as we had fun socializing.
(Photos: At right- Flowers, herbs, and cards that Laura received. At left- Laura with her "Re-cycle-Men" Flower. Below- All of us listening to a story by Laura.)

Then it was present time! We gathered up all the packages and Laura opened each one. She received flowers, herb plants for her garden, incense, candles, diffusers, and a painting of herself.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Bonnets & Brunch...

The Popette Strikes Again!!!

It's the Annual Spring Bonnets Brunch at St. Joe's Church. It was a rainy day outside but it was full of life inside, especially when you have the Popette in tow.(Photo at right: Myself and the Popette)

The Brunch was organized by Not-So-Good, and started with a prayer service performed by Father Carley. Then was followed by a wonderful catered meal of Chicken Waldorf, Shrimp salad, and a Strawberry dessert. There were all kinds of bonnets. There was even a display table where one of the gals from St. Joe's had bonnets that were available to purchase or just to wear for photos. Well, before the Popette's Miter arrived we had a little fun and she tried on a few of these amazing bonnets. (Photo below: The Popette trying bonnets on before the Miter arrived.)

The Popette is sporting a new Miter that was made by Laura. It even has sprouted a few blooms for Spring. And up around the edges there's even Latin on this new Miter. A secret compartment inside holds the Latin translations. Laura as ever being creative has translated verses such as: "Behold the power of cheese", "I think therefore I am", "As IF!", "It was that way when I got here", " I can't hear you, I have a banana in my ear", "Beam me up Scotty". As you can imagine NOT your typical Miter, in any sense of the word. (Photo at Left: The Popette translating the Latin with Not-So-Good in background-[in yellow])

Of course, the Popette was a big hit, as well as her Miter! She read the translations in her own dramatic way, and had us all laughing till we were about ready to cry. It was even more funny, when Father Carley came round to our table and discovered the Popette in all of her glory. (Photo at left: Fr. Carley sporting the Popette's new Miter.) He even had to try the Miter on, after all he has been working towards it all of his life, too! He even borrowed it to make a little speech at the end of the brunch.

But on a more serious tone, we had a guest speaker of Pamela Atkinson. (Photo at right: Pamela Atkinson speaking at the Brunch.) She's an amazing English woman whose an advocate for children and the homeless. She pointed out to all of us at the brunch that the little things like a can of soup, a blanket, or saying "Hi" to a homeless family or person could make a BIG difference in their lives. She encouraged us to reach out, and make that difference.

It was a good time, and filled us all with a great deal of hope. At the end of the Brunch there was a raffle for the best Bonnet--- a cute little girl won the prize. Then there were a great deal of door prizes that were dispersed. Maureen won tickets to the Hale Theater and I managed to go home with a bottle of wine. (Photo: The Popette and Susan in her bonnet ed glory!)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day!!

This is not the “May Day! May Day! “of distress calls. This is the May Day of my childhood. The first day of May! The day that often felt like the first REAL day of Spring to me in Iowa when I was growing up. The first of the flowers were blooming and it was warm enough to go outside with just a sweater or a light jacket on; if needed.

One of the most popularly known May Day traditions is to hang a basket full of spring flowers and/or other small gifts on a neighbor's doorknob or porch. The trick is you don't want the neighbor to see you! If you get caught, you are supposed to get a kiss. (Yuck!) We often would fill these homemade paper baskets with popcorn, jelly beans, and chocolate kisses. We had a great deal of fun, sneaking up to the neighbor’s porch, carefully placing the basket, knocking on the door (or ringing the doorbell), then RUN! FOREST, RUN! Very rarely did we get caught. Most often, we rather prided ourselves on having the neighbor never figuring out who it was that left the basket on their porch. We would hide in the bushes and wait. (Above Photo: "Maypole Singers" an oil painting I did based on singers in a May Day Festival in Amana Colonies in Iowa.)

When I first moved to Utah, I tried this May Day basket thing. But it just left my neighbors perplexed. They had never heard of this May Day tradition, and rather acted like I was a creature from another planet. (Which I have to admit, sometimes, I feel like that in Utah.) It wasn’t until years later that I had a neighbor move in across the street, who was originally from Michigan, that I was able to start up the tradition again for awhile. She understood the tradition, and she often would have each one of her young sons deliver and dash baskets to my front porch. It was all sorts of merriment that I would run after them and warn them that I was going to catch them. But quite often, we would be laughing so hard that we would be rolling in the grass across their front yard.

Another popular activity on May Day is to decorate a pole with brightly colored ribbon or paper streamers. Some also add flowers and balloons. The pole is usually carried in a parade and then placed in the ground at a designated area. People then dance around the May pole, holding the ends of the streamers or ribbon in their hands. The Maypole Dance as it’s called. One year when I was back in Iowa visiting my Mom, we went down to the Amana Colonies and attended their May Day festivities. One of which was a Maypole Dance. The girls doing the dance were dressed in dresses with aprons and their hair is swept up in buns. I did some paintings based on photos of this a few years back. (Above Photo: "Maypole Dancers" an oil painting I did based on Maypole Dancers at a May Day Festival in Amana Colonies in Iowa.)

It’s interesting all the different cultural celebrations there are for the same day. I recently surfed the Internet; I discovered all kinds of ways that people celebrate May Day. In London, May Day is celebrated with the children going from house to house. They bring flowers and get pennies in return. The pennies are then thrown into a wishing well. The pennies are then donated to charity. Gee, and I remember picking flowers and trying to sell them to the neighbors as a kid, but I usually kept the money. Am I bad?

In France, cows play an important role in May Day. The cows are led in parades with many flowers attached to their tails. The people watching the parade try to touch the cows; it is believed to be good luck. Cows are good luck? So what about cow tipping? Does that undo the luck? In Germany, one tradition is for boys to secretly plant a May tree in front of the window of the girl they love. Interesting … So is this an early form of courtship? And what is the parent’s reaction when a boy is digging a hole in their front yard? I wonder.

The people in Hawaii celebrate their own version of May Day; they call it Lei Day. People give Hawaiian leis to each other. They put them around each other's necks and sometimes give a traditional kiss. Gee, and I thought this happened all of the time in Hawaii. At least according to all of the tourist brochures I see, it does. They are such a friendly lot!

But anway, Happy May Day to you! Which ever way you may, or may not, celebrate it!