Thursday, December 9, 2010

We're Back!

Dear Friends and Family,
We would like to take this opportunity to share our story, express our gratitude, and extend our wishes for a wonderful 2011.  Though holiday letters are not our usual style, recent events have prompted us to send more than the annual funny picture and handcrafted card.

The year 2010 brought many challenges, blessings, and changes for our family.  We faced them all with my typical trepidation and Michael’s ever present optimism.  Before going into detail, let me first say that despite all of the bumps in the road and difficulties, when all was said and done, we emerged stronger and closer than ever as a family.  I’m constantly reminded of what wonderful boys we have and how incredibly lucky the four of us are to have each other.

Beginning with Joel:  Our oldest is a continual source of pride and comfort.  We are so impressed with the amazing human being that Joel has become.  He has a heart the size of Montana and can be counted on by friends and family alike.  Joel has been apprenticing with a talented interior finish carpenter this year and has learned a great deal while working very hard at both the carpentry and his night job at Hamlin Pub.  Little did we know when Joel first began working with his boss that he would play a key role in one of our biggest challenges this year.  In addition to all of this, Joel has continued to strengthen his relationship with Sarah, a young lady that we love and adore.  I thank God for Joel every day.  He is a wonderful son, an outstanding brother, and an all around great guy.

Trevor:  our youngest (now 22) made us very proud by graduating from the University of Michigan in May.  He found out earlier in the year that he had been accepted into medical school at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  This of course represents both a blessing and a challenge from mom’s point of view!  Soo happy that he was accepted at his first choice of schools, and sooo sad to have him move so far away!  In addition to the academics, Trevor continues to excel in his efforts as a power lifter.  He has steadily improved his personal best and derives great satisfaction from the sport.  We miss him very much, but through the magic of the internet and cell phones have managed to keep in touch with our baby boy. We are so blessed to have Trevor in our lives.  

Michael:  This year has provided Michael with many learning opportunities at Televideo where he has mastered Final Cut Pro and has proven to be an editor extraordinaire.  Michael’s support and understanding during some rough patches in my life have been invaluable and have proven just what excellent taste I have in men!  His current project as an independent is a documentary film called The Goatyard.  Many of his films have been shown at the Detroit Mitten Project this year.  He is also sharing his editing talents as adjunct faculty for Baker College where he teaches basic editing techniques utilizing Final Cut Pro.

Mugsy and Meggie:  Mugsy continues to be both a stinker and a constant source of joy to me!  He is adorable and is beginning to sleep through the night.  Meggie tuned 14 this fall and has had some health issues.  The week we moved back home, she developed severe ear infections and Vertigo.  It has taken her two weeks to begin to walk again and she still looks like a drunken sailor when she crosses the room.

The there’s me:  Well, the year began with two different doctors giving me a knock up the side of the head.  Within two months I heard the words, “at high risk for breast cancer” and “diabetes”.  Combine that with a very rough economy, pressure from the state, and a family history of failing health by the age of 54, I decided to retire early.  It was a very tough decision but something that I felt I had to do.  I started an online art business and began my journey into the art world.  I had a wonderful summer both creating art and spending every possible minute with Trevor.  I lost 60 pounds, stabilized my blood sugar, and prepared to become an empty nester.  We moved Trevor to Florida in August (lots of tears) and as a coping mechanism I turned his bedroom into my long dreamed of art studio.  Of course a physical undertaking such as that could never happen without my injuring myself.  Day one of remodel had me breaking my toe and Day two found me falling over a dog and destroying my knee.  I ended up flying to Florida for Trevor’s white coat ceremony with a purple leg (it was also a great introduction to my new “retiree” insurance policy – no more trips to the ER for me!  Did I mention that Trevor had a car accident three weeks before he left and we had just that amount of time to find him another vehicle?)

Trevor moved on August 31st.  My art studio was completed by September 9th.  On September 10th we had a house fire that completely destroyed the art studio and resulted in enough smoke damage to move us into a hotel for two months.  We had our dogs with us.  It was cozy!  The blessing:  we all survived the fire (even the dang tarantula).  The challenge:  living in a hotel room with two dogs, having all of our belongings moved to a warehouse, losing everything in my studio (including lots of art work), dealing with contractors, unpacking four truckloads of boxes (the week before Thanksgiving) when we were finally able to move back in, and dealing with muscle pains we hadn’t faced in years.

Now for the gratitude::  It’s amazing to see the people who come forward when you find yourselves down and out.  We would like to say that we couldn’t have gotten through it all without my brother and his family taking care of our dogs until we could bring them to the second hotel, my brother calling me every day to check on me, my sister-in-law making us a wonderful lasagna dinner, my father doing our laundry and helping to dog sit, my mother-in-law feeding us and helping to clean once we began moving back, Mrs. Becker feeding us, Dan and Nancy Burns feeding us every Wednesday for two months (those dinners became our little mid-week oasis in the midst of incredible stress and turmoil) and Nancy  helping me to unpack boxes once we moved back, Deborah calling every week to check on me, Carol calling to offer support, Joanne taking me to dinner and a show to lift my spirits, Ryan and CamieLee sending me text messages every week to keep my spirits up, our next door neighbors Mike and Marilynn for taking us into their home, watching our things,  and offering comfort, our neighbors across the street Jamie and Scott taking us into their home the night of the fire to use their phone and give us a place to sit while the firefighters did their thing (thank you to the firefighters!), the card and gift from Mike Nowinski to help us get through the extra expense of living in a hotel, MaryLou coming to the hotel to keep me company during some dark days, our son Joel putting in 115 hours of hard labor along with his boss to get our house back in living condition by Thanksgiving as well as coming to the hotel every Monday night along with Sarah to feed us and keep us company, the wonderful people at CropStop who sent me a care package of art supplies for the hotel room, and Trevor and Meghan coming home from college to help us unpack.  If we missed anyone, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Thank God for friends and family! We are home, we are grateful and we are desperately wishing you and yours a fabulous holiday season and a safe, loving New Year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  The Pfaendtners J

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Blank Slate!

Here it is! Stripped down to its barest elements, my studio!

I can't tell you how good it feels to have the smoke and debris pulled out of there. I feel as though I can breathe now when I go to the house. I'm focusing my thoughts on colors and function these days. When I created my previous studio, I used things that were a part of our home. I re purposed furniture and containers, and made due with what we had. It was perfect and I loved every inch of it. I am now in a position of replacing old with new. It's an interesting position for someone who focuses on the old and worn to create art.

Form and function war with aesthetics. I know that I want lots of counter space and plenty of storage. I plan to focus on canvas storage, box storage, and finding a home for all of my found objects. I'll need containers for paint and buckets for paper ephemera. I want it to look funky and fun and indulgent. I want my twinkle lights back and my crystals hanging from the new ceiling fan. Well okay, I guess I'm still describing my original space! It really WAS perfect for me! One change that I have been contemplating though, is to have a really cool french door (rather than the regular interior stock doors I have on the rest of the rooms) and I want to paint it purple! That's okay isn't it? :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Life is what happens.......

About three weeks ago, I posted a story about my brand new studio and the fact that its creation  helped me with the process of becoming an empty nester. Well, as John Lennon once said, life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. 

After going to a wonderful dinner with my brother and sister-in-law last night, my husband and I came home to a house fire.  I don't have to tell you what a traumatic experience that was.  The good news is that the fire was contained within my studio and that the rest of the house suffered smoke and heat damage only.  The bad news is that the fire was contained within my studio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.  I no longer have a studio as that room was completely destroyed and is down to the studs in most places. 

I know there are many blessings.  Had we stayed for dessert, the whole top floor would have been destroyed along with my two doggies. Had the faulty extension cord (that has resided in that room for at least five years) decided to short out five weeks ago, my son would still have been sleeping in it as it had been his bedroom.  Had we been in the house instead of at a restaurant, the cord could have shorted out while we were in bed and caused us to die of smoke inhalation. 

All of those things matter a great deal and we are profoundly grateful for the powers that be upon whose intervention we owe a debt of thanks. 

 Add that to the fact that we are not allowed to live in our home for the unforeseeable future and I am now a homeless out of work artist with no art supplies, a sore throat (had to rescue the dogs didn't I?), burning eyes, and a burned out space that used to be my beautiful was great while it lasted (three whole weeks) and it will someday rise again in  (oops, I almost said a "blaze" of glory)...a show of triumph!.....or maybe life has something else in mind...

PS  Laptop is a molten heap, can only post if someone lends me their computer, hope to speak with you again soon

Saturday, September 4, 2010


My Carousel was chosen for the Etsy Treasury site!  What wonderful company I'm keeping in that collection too!  You should check it out!

Friday, September 3, 2010

ATC swap for Defining Me

ATC SwapI hope I'm doing this correctly!  These are the beautiful cards I received from Gemma!

For my friend.....

I recently wrote about my swap friend Veronica. I described the crown that I had created for our newest swap.

Just as I finished the crown, I received an email from Veronica. She was in the middle of boarding up her store and evacuating from her NC coastal home due to the impending hurricane. On top of all of that, her husband is now facing possible health issues. I've never met Veronica but I know her to be courageous and loving, generous and kind. All of my thoughts and prayers are with her right now. If you have a chance, please send a prayer her way. Thank you!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Women Rule.....

I do a monthly swap with someone I met through my Blog .  We either exchange ATC cards, small canvases, assemblages, or whatever strikes our fancy for that time in our lives.  It's been a wonderful experience and every new swap brings another challenge to my studio. 

The current challenge (chosen by my partner) was to create a crown that represents the person it is being sent to.  I wanted to make something that spoke to the dynamic, successful person my partner is.  She holds a position of great responsibility in her job and is looked upon as a leader in her company.  On top of that, she is a very creative soul who loves to travel and spend time with her husband.  Women Rule is meant to reflect those qualities I have found in Veronica.

One of the problems I have with my art is that I tend to try to translate everything in a very literal sense.  It's hard for me to let go of reality and just follow the muse. So, in my mind, a crown should be made of metal.  I gathered my rusty found metal pieces and began the process of trying to attach things to one another.  I don't have welding in my tool kit and my soldering is very limited. 
Having scrapped two crowns before settling on the one I am sending out, I decided to try my hand at using epoxy.  This is something I had always shied away from.  The process of having to mix two things seemed a little intimidating to me.  Guess what?  I love the epoxy!  It worked beautifully and it wasn't hard at all.  If you haven't tried it, don't wait.  It works :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Newest assignment.....

A friend has asked me to create a guest sign-in vehicle for her upcoming wedding.  She doesn't want a book necessarily, but is looking for something unique.  I have heard of things such as painted tree branches, and keepsake boxes where people leave notes for the bride and groom.  I really don't know what else is out there. 

I'll be doing some research today to see what others have used.  I would love to give her something special that will have lasting qualities unlike some of the things my husband and I used when we got married.  There were the matching champagne flutes with our names and wedding ate on them, the tarnished (now) knife specially designed to cut wedding cakes but little else, the requisite garter with baby blue ribbon, and the ridiculously tight white cloth wedding shoes that I've never worn again. 

Of course, we were married a little over 100 years ago, so things may have changed a bit!  If you have any new ideas or have seen any unique items at recent weddings, please let me know.  In the meantime, Google is my friend........

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Change is good!

I woke up this morning with a new revelation.  I am happy.  Did you hear me?  I AM HAPPY!  How often have I been able to say that over the years?  Don't get me wrong, I have been extremely happy raising my family, spending time with my friends, building a life with my husband.  That's more of a "universal" happiness I guess.  On a daily basis, however, how often can one get up in the morning and say, "I'm happy!"?  During my 32 years of teaching I generally woke up feeling #1 tired, #2 tired, #3 leery of what the day would bring, #4 rushed, anxious, and overwhelmed with having to get out of the door on time, #5 worried, #6 tired, tired, tired......

I'm talking about a personal, one day at a time, "happy". I know you may be thinking, "yeah, that's easy for you to say, you're retired"  It's true that I don't have to face the daily grind at this point.  That helps.  But that's not to say that there aren't concerns associated with being retired.  For one thing, I have no money!  Retirement comes with some pretty hefty financial sacrifices.  There are certainly worries associated with that. And loneliness, I know that I will wake up some mornings in the Fall and wonder what my former colleagues are up to and whether or not I'll ever have any one to talk to again that doesn't have four legs and a tail.....

I have to say, in spite of those things, there is something purely wonderful about waking up with your own company, planning your own time, appreciating your own garden, dancing to Ellen De generous with your own canine pal, and just plain enjoying the day.  We don't often get a chance to do that while working full time.  Well, I did that working thing for a long time.  I paid my dues, earned my retirement and have to say that today I feel truly blessed.  Blessed, and happy...........

Friday, August 20, 2010

The advantages of getting organized..

One thing I have discovered about having an organized studio (finally!) is that I am utilizing materials in my work that I haven't used in a long time.  Things that were stashed here and there, up and down tended to be forgotten and I ended up using the materials I could see in front of me.  You see, my previous studio (the kitchen table) could only hold so many things while still allowing room for my husband to eat his dinner.  As a result, I would keep a big bucket of vintage papers and ephemera, a huge bottle of gesso, a (I wish they came in huge bottles) small jar of gel medium, and a bucket of rusted metal. 

The rusted metal (being in plain sight) continuously prompted my husband to remind me that I haven't had a tetanus shot in decades and the gesso tended to splatter the nice new red kitchen chairs I have. Canvases were stored in the garage along with towers of old boxes and even more rusted metal.  My black kitchen sink was continually splattered with white gesso and the tile counter top has Diamond Glaze on it that will NEVER come off.

My family was quite used to this arrangement and seldom complained about living with the table clutter and chemically enhanced sink.  The result of this , however, was that all of my projects contained a combination of these items and very few other mediums.  On the one hand, I was forced to always think of new and different ways to combine my limited palette.  It stretched me in ways that may not have otherwise happened.  On the other hand, many of my carefully (and sometimes not so carefully) purchased art supplies never made it out of their shrink wrap cocoons.

Enter newly organized and assembled studio!  I'm revisiting old friends and discovering new ones that came home but were never utilized.  Whether this is an improvement to my artistic endeavors, only time will tellOne thing is certain though, I have no need for purchasing more supplies.  I said, "no need", not "no desire".  Two very different concepts...........

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What's old is new?

I received a phone call today asking me to create some Santas for a fund raiser in Wisconsin.  The fund raiser is to support women and children in need.  The Santas being requested are something that I made years ago when I use to do the craft show circuit.  The Santas consist of fabric, found objects and used mink coats.  The mink part creeps me out a little because I have always been active in animal rights issues.  But, the reality is that the coats already exist and this way they are becoming something useful rather than entering a landfill. 

I really thought the Santas were behind me, but this is for a good cause and my fledgling business really can't be fussy at this point can it?  Who knows, maybe I can put a new altered twist on it, maybe some vintage text.... or rusted metal...hmmmmm

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Life is Like a Bag of Carrots.........

Yes, I would rather life be like a box of chocolates, but recent conversations with my doctor have eliminated that possibility.  I could also say that life is like a box of sugarfree chocolates, but having just read Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman/Kim Barnouin and becoming aware of the evils of aspartame, (apparently it has been linked to everything from arthritis to cancer) even that small compromise has been stolen from my life menu.  Diet pop!  Guess what it's flavored with?  Yup Aspartame. 

I know it's important to get healthy, but what is a Baby Boomer supposed to do?  Maybe back in the Little House on the Prairie days, a nice juicy (worm filled) apple fresh from the orchard (that Pa planted with his own two gorgeous hands) was a special treat.  But I was raised in the self-indulgent days of pesticides, preservatives, and every kind of salty, sweet snack man could think of inventing ( I say "man" because a woman would know better than to put addictive, worm free chemicals in our snacks). 

I'm talking about the fast food generation.  Who can think about high school without remembering trips to MacDonalds and Burger King after  football games? I admit, having just lost fifty pounds, it feels good to be healthier.  But maintaining that life style is daunting.  I find my post retirement days filled with a constant battle between my conscience telling me to go make art and my bored stomach telling me to go get a Diet Coke or a nicely "preserved" bag of 100 calorie cookies.  Sometimes my stomach wins and out come the diet snacks and sometimes my conscience wins and I grab a bag of chemically peeled "fresh" baby carrots......what's a boomer to do?  Skinny Bitch

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's too pretty!

The studio is done!  I just can't seem to make myself work in it!  I have done my bills up here, watched endless episodes of the Closer, and organized every iota of craft product that I own.  I have not yet created anything.  And speaking of craft items/ art supplies.....There is nothing like a good effort towards organizing art supplies to make one aware of just how many there are!!  Could I possibly have purchased any more STUFF over the years?  Good grief!  I could begin creating today and (with the exception of gel medium and gesso) continue to do so for the next twenty years without buying another supply! So that's where my teaching income went....................................
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  My husband read this book on our trip to Florida and really loved it!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hooray! The Studio is up and operational!

I'm so excited!  In an effort to divert my attention from the fact that my little birdie has left the nest, I spent the past four days turning his room into my art studio.  I never thought it would possible to have a room dedicated completely to my art things, but it actually happened. 

Mixed blessing...I always hoped that Trevor would choose to attend a Med School in Michigan, but the dear child was traumatized by our horrendous winter last year and decided to apply to a school in Ft. Lauderdale.  I hate the distance, but I love having a room! 

I know, four days and it's done?  Yes!!  I was like an obsessed woman!  I shopped, tugged, hauled, packed, sorted (egads!  I have wayyyy too many art supplies), and organized.  I worked to the point of exhaustion and ended up tripping over one of the dogs.  Four hours in the emergency room to have my gigantic knee based hematoma xrayed, not broken! and then forced myself to rest.  The good news is that I didn't cry over my baby nearly as much as I normally would (that will come Sunday when we say goodbye again at the Florida airport) and I have a studio!  Now I have to nag my husband to take pictures so that I can post them here. More to come after Florida!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Letting them fly.......

Okay, this is where the avian kingdom and I disagree.  Birds have this time worn little habit of hatching their eggs, raising up their chicks, and then pushing them out of the nest.  We romanticize the concept by saying the baby birds are encouraged to spread their wings and fly.  Hogwash I say!  Maybe home base in birdie world is a little small and consideration has to be given to making room for future additions to the family and maybe mama bird is tired of getting up at the crack of dawn to dig up worms to shove down her kids' throats.  In my opinion, however, that only suggests poor planning on the part of the adult bird in building such a small nest.  And furthermore, couldn't they put more effort into teaching the young how to collect their own food rather than just kicking them out?  The whole system needs to be revamped if you ask me.  It wouldn't matter so much how our winged friends conduct their business if the analogy of "letting them spread their wings and fly" wasn't applied to human families with such irritating regularity!

By now you may be wondering what I've had for breakfast and why I'm so hung up on avian behavior.  Well, I'll tell you.  My baby boy moved to Florida this morning to start medical school and I don't like it one bit!  No, I really don't............

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Necessity is the mother.......

I made some clay faces yesterday for the Prayer Boxes I'm creating.  When I got up this morning, it was with the intention of painting the faces a coppery/rusty color.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that my coppery/rusty paint had dried to a hard rock-like substance during the school year (a problem I have run across more than once).  What to do?  I can't keep running to the craft store to pick up supplies for a business that has yet to get off the ground!  I don't think it's a good thing when receipts for supplies far outweigh sales slips for products sold, is it?  Not having much business savvy, I do believe I have the order of things right.  Sales should outweigh purchases!  

Okay, back to my "face" problem.  I know that this isn't a new technique to serious painters, but it's new to me.  A couple of years ago, my husband had purchased a set of pigment bottles for me from Dick Blick's catalogue.  The pigments are called "Historical Pigment Kit" by Sinopik (it could be Sinopir, there is a big paint blob on the label).  I mixed the sienna pigment with the gel medium I was using (by Liquitex) and voila!  A beautiful rusty/coppery paint was created for my faces!  You can teach an old dog new tricks!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I received a really great hug from my son yesterday.  He is leaving for college in Florida on Friday and is experiencing some anxiety about the change.  My boys are great huggers, but life has turned them into adults who sometimes are too busy to hand them out.  As a result, the one I received last night was so very precious!  I'll carry it with me while he's gone and revisit it during the long winter months as I miss him terribly......

Here is a little excerpt I found years ago about hugs:

Hugging is good medicine.
It transfers energy and gives the person hugging an emotional boost.
You need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance and 12 for growth.
A hug makes people feel good because the skin is the largest organ we have and needs a great deal of care.
A hug can cover a lot of skin area and give the message that you care.
The nicest thing about a hug is that you usually can't give one without getting one!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oldie But Goodie

I found this poem in a pile of very old memorabilia it still holds true, especially in light of my last post :)

The Person in the Glass
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
and the world makes you special for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that person has to say.

For it isn't your mother, your father, acquaintances in life
Whose judgement on you must pass.
The person whose verdict counts most in your life
is the one staring back from the glass.

It's the person to please, never mind all the rest
cause that person is with you clear to the end;
And you've passed your most dangerous and difficult test
If the one in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Little Jack Horner and chisel a plum
And say you are great with a sigh,
But the person in the glass says you are a bum
If you can't look that one straight in the eye.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
and get pats on the back as you pass;
But the final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you've cheated the one in the glass.   Anonymous

Monday, July 19, 2010


leg·a·cy   /ˈlɛgəsi/ Show Spelled [leg-uh-see] Show IPA noun, plural -cies.

1. Law . a gift of property, esp. personal property, as money, by will; a bequest.

2. anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor: the legacy of ancient Rome.

3. an applicant to or student at a school that was attended by his or her parent.

4. Obsolete . the office, function, or commission of a legate.

I've been thinking about the concept of  a "legacy" recently.  The name of my new business is Legacy Mixed Media and that decision has led me to an exploration of what "legacy" means to me.

When I looked up the definition this morning, I found that there were meanings I hadn't associated with the word such as number four; obsolete or an applicant.  The meaning I most closely relate to is the one expressed in number two as high-lighted above.

Being of an age where I and my peer group are beginning to lose loved ones, has sparked a real interest in the totality of life.  Let's face it, losing my mother had the effect of smacking me right in the face with my own mortality!  What? You mean people actually die? Lots of soul searching following that major event!

So, what type of legacy did my mother leave behind? And more importantly, what legacy will I be leaving behind for my children?  Just before passing, I was alone with my mother and had the difficult task of letting her know that time was limited and the cancer was winning the battle.  In that moment, my mother kind of went into a zone and began describing her children to some invisible force in the room with us.  My mother was a brilliant, hard working, exacting, humorous opinionated individual. She taught her children a love of music, art, and reading.  Because of her example, we learned to be self-reliant and independent. We became leaders in our respective fields rather than followers.  She set high expectations for those around her and had no qualms about letting people know if they fell short of those expectations.  On that difficult day in my mom's hospital room, as she had her conversation with the unknown entity, I learned just how many ways I had failed to live up to what was expected of me.  Don't get me wrong, my mom loved me fiercely and would have died to defend me.  But did she respect me?  I'm not so sure.

Now in terms of a legacy, I guess this story can be looked at in two different ways.  We could say that my mom left a legacy of setting high expectations and being brutally honest when those expectations were not. We could also look at the story as a reflection back on me.  Perhaps my mother was letting me know in some weird way that the legacy I was forging for my own children was weak and needed to be strengthened.  I don't know which scenario is more significant and the fall-out from my mother's observations is a topic for another day.

I do know that there is nothing I can do at this point to change my mother's opinion of me.  What I can control and continue to build is the legacy I leave for my own children.  What will your legacy be?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


My friend Yvonne is getting married in August.  I made her invitations and was able to get them off in the mail this morning.  This isn't a first wedding and the guest list is small.  Yvonne wanted simple but elegant.  I think we delivered :) 

It always feels good to get a project done and out the door.  My need for a linear life is sometimes at odds with my creative side.  I currently have a cremains container in process, the invitations, and a baby keepsake box.  In addition, I have these cute little canvases I started  just because.  I'm excited to have commissioned work coming in, I just have to find my rhythm. I have all kinds of ideas in my head, things I'd like to accomplish.......:)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just who is my peer group?

I live in what I have always thought of as a fairly average community. Macomb can be characterized by middle class families, nice homes, lots of chain restaurants, and plenty of malls.  The traffic is always intense and the stores are always crowded.  This remains true even in light of today's economy.  Up until this summer, I thought I had a pretty good sense of where I live.

Something has changed, however, I am now looking at my community through the eyes of a retired person.  I look at the people I encounter during the day as my peers.  After all, we all belong to the club of folks able to hit the malls during the day and sip Starbucks at will. But I'm having a difficult time making it all fit.  For one thing, I have noticed that this community is full of senior citizens!  Nobody drives over 35 miles per hour during the day and stop signs, red lights, and yield signs are mere suggestions rather than rules.  I don't know what happens during rush hour.  The folks I am now aware of must scurry back to their homes by 4:00 PM.

As I continue to pursue my new identity as a retired person, I find it difficult to find my place.  Being on the young side for retirement, I'm unable to identify with the senior citizens who emerge between the hours of 9:00 and 4:00. I haven't trained myself to slow down yet and when in traffic have to keep repeating the mantra,"you have no schedule to follow!"  By the same token, harassed young moms carting around screaming children (and perhaps dreaming of the day when school resumes and they can experience some respite from parenting) seem light years away from my current reality. Is it possible I fall somewhere in between?  
I'm sure the answer will present itself over time.  When I start to fill my purse with sugar packets from the restaurant, or demand my free coffee from McDonald's,I'll know which direction I'm heading in.  Although, I do find myself talking to random strangers at Target these days............. 

Monday, July 12, 2010


I'm crazy about vignettes!  I love to move things around in my home to create little inspirational scenes.  Living with three males, I sometimes wonder if they even notice the  little scenarios I try to create.  I often have to say, "hey, what do you think about the way I placed those items?"  I then get the "huh?" look and a generic, "very nice!"  It's okay, I don't necessarily do it for them.  To be honest, I really do it for myself! 

I have to admit, that the lack of estrogen in my immediate environment is something that I will have to learn to deal with.  My life has always had a nice balance. As an elementary teacher, I was generally surrounded by female adults every day.  I was then able to come home and embrace the testosterone filled household I live in. Though my guys are all very supportive of my artistic pursuits, and are great about bringing me things to work with, one needs the company of females too! Retirement has definitely created an imbalance.  Must seek out female companionship!  It would be great if some of those females had an interest in the creative pursuits of life....just saying :)

One of those testosterone filled males brought me an old wood frame he found in a convenience store parking lot.  He said he knew it was something I would like.  The frame sat on my porch for a couple of months until one day I looked at it and thought, hmmmmm, I know what to do with that!  And thus, another vignette was born.......

Saturday, July 10, 2010


My Etsy shop is now up and running! Wow, that was a ton of work but well worth the effort.  The next task is to get the website up and running.  I definitely need technical assistance with that project.  The Etsy site nearly did me in. 
I am completely being pushed out of my comfort zone with all of this techno stuff but that's the stuff that new brain cells are made of, right?  I can certainly stand some new dendrites :) 

Our friend, Kim, owner and operator of the great People's Pierogi Collective down at Eastern Market in Detroit has promised to come to my rescue with the website. Check out her cool website at  If you live in the Detroit area, you have got to go down to taste her awesome pierogies on Saturday mornings. Yummm........

Friday, July 9, 2010

Different styles......

My son is very creative.  He doesn't spend much time drawing and he doesn't engage in other typical art mediums.  My son enjoys working with his hands.  He likes to build things and he likes to design things.  He is able to visualize a finished product simply by looking at the raw materials.  I can't do that!  I truly believe that mixed media and collage are the perfect categories for me because I can just jump into the fray without any idea of how things will turn out.  I don't like to measure or follow patterns. 

Example:  I immediately began to crochet an afghan three weeks ago on the day I retired.  It seemed like the thing to do.  As is my way, I didn't buy a pattern and I didn't measure.  One evening, after I had been madly crocheting for several days, my son asked me how big the afghan was going to be.  I said I had no clue and he then insisted on measuring what I had completed thus far.  The afghan was 14 feet wide!  Needless to say, my family has given me nothing but warm hearted grief over my monster afghan. 
My son measures and thinks things through when he builds something.  I recently asked him to build an elevated vegetable planter for the side of my house (the only patch of sun in my entire yard).  Within three hours, I had the most beautiful, perfect planter imaginable.  I'm so proud of him.  He's talented, loving, generous and accurate!  And you know what else?  He wants my monster afghan when it's completed because he appreciates my lack of planning........

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks........

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Technology!  It only took me the entire day, but I finally got an Etsy Shop set up.  I'm sure that someone with more tech savvy could have done it in a quarter of the time.  Anyway, it's done and it looks pretty cute :)  Now, I have to measure my pieces and load them into the shop.  That will take a couple of days.  After that, I figure out how to link everything to Facebook, Blogger, and my new Website.  The website.........oh dear heavens..that will take me a month of Sundays to figure out!  One step at a time, right?  Here is the cute banner that my hubby designed for the Etsy Shop: 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Time for a break.....

The Fourth of July....time to take a break from setting up the business and enjoy family and friends.  I love having the family over and we only have three weeks left with Trevor before he moves to Florida.  Just one more big change in my life this summer! 

As someone who reacts poorly to change, I have certainly assembled a number of them all at once.......  I've heard all of the inspirational sayings:  change is good, embrace change as it is the stuff life is made of, without change we can't grow or move forward blah, blah, blah!  I still find the concept scary, overwhelming in some cases, and darn nerve wracking.  That doesn't mean I don't meet changes head-on, after all, that's why God invented antacids, right?  Happy Fourth everyone, may you be surrounded by the warmth of loved ones :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The adventure continues....

I registered my business name as a domain today!  I have no idea how to design a website, but this is a first step.  I couldn't believe my luck in that nobody else had used Legacy Mixed Media for their website.  I hope to include a variety of interests on my website including tutorials, completed art to purchase, links to other artists, and helpful hints for encouraging budding artists to follow their muse.  If all goes well, I will link the site to my Etsy Shop to make materials available.  This is quite a reach for this 54 year old non-techy gal!  However, now that I'm retired, I have all the time in the world to figure it out!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


As a college freshman, I wanted to major in art.  I took several art classes at the local community college and loved everything I was exposed to.  After two years, it was time for me to transfer to a four year university.  That was when my mom informed me that I would never be able to support myself through my art and should therefore choose a major that would allow me to earn a decent living.  She wasn't trying to be hurtful, she just wanted to ensure my ability to be independent.  My mom was one of the original bra burners on our block, working full time when all the other moms were baking cookies and playing with various hair dyes.  She never wanted me to become dependent on a man to survive.  I took her advice to heart and transferred to a field that eventually led me to teaching.  Mom died three years ago and I have retired from teaching. 

Thirty-two years later, I am venturing out into the world of art to see what I can do.  I registered my business with the county on Thursday and made it official.  Legacy Mixed Media is now a reality.  I know that I am not the first human to be plagued with self-doubt based on comments made by well-meaning parents in our past.  I keep hearing mom's voice asking "how are you going to support yourself?"  Still working on an answer to that question. The good news Mom, is that I have a pension, the more important news is that I have to soon as I get those voices to quiet down .....:)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Before Mugs....

I made this little bird out of air dry clay, vintage text, and rusted wire.  I loved him!  He looked so cute sitting on my windowsill.  I use the past tense of "look" because he now has no head.  My demon rescue puppy, Mugsy, climbed onto the counter top and pulled my little bird off of the sill above the sink.  He then proceeded to eat the bird's head.  Ironically, a few days later, Mugs brought in a baby bird from the yard.  The bird was no longer breathing. We sincerely hope that happened before Mugs found him.  I have now lost a total of six art projects to my little guy.  I could be bitter, but he's so adorable that I prefer to think that Mugsy is simply appreciating my work in the only way he knows eating it :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


April 17th!  That was the last time I posted on this blog!  So much has changed in that time.  My youngest graduated from U of M (he's heading to school in Florida in August), my oldest has found a career he enjoys apprenticing with a finish carpenter, and I have retired from teaching!  Difficult economic times have forced our districts and legislators in Michigan to take measures to "encourage" older teachers to retire as a cost saving effort.  I'm only 54 and had not thought to retire for another couple of years.  Work has been stressful though and I decided to take a leap of faith.  I have always wanted to do something "different" with my life.  I've wanted to explore my creative side by taking classes, working on my craft without being tethered by teaching demands, and truely finding myself as an artist. I have to confess, it's scarey as hell!  I have never before leapt without a net.  I always knew what I needed to do next as a professional. I'm excited and terrified...I will keep you all posted :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blackbird singing in the dead of night...........

There is an old amusement park up on Van Dyke in Utica. To my knowledge, it's been closed for a very long time. I remember bringing my girlfriend's daughter there when she was around four years old. That was over 30 years ago. At the time, the park was fairly run down. I'm not sure when it closed down, but I'm always surprised to see the sign in place and the property undeveloped all these years later. The equipment is rusted and tangled succumbing to the damage brought about by Michigan winters. There is something haunting and lonely about a broken distressed carousal . Is it possible that on a bright moonlit night, when no one is looking, blackbirds take a spin on the eerily beautiful magical ride of so many yesterdays?

Monday, April 12, 2010

And of course, baby birds!!
Here is another of my silly birds!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"Cheep" Thrills

Okay, maybe it's the sunshine, maybe it's the warm air, maybe it's the flowering trees...not sure...only know that when Spring finally comes to Michigan, my thoughts turn to birds, nests, and eggs. I know what you're thinking, we just celebrated Easter Patti, of course you've been thinking about eggs! True, but I actually started thinking about birds well before Easter.

Each Spring, I tend to think about birds. My art begins to reflect those thoughts and I have to get it out of my system before I can move on to other projects. I think birds represent more than Easter basket "peeps" to me. I think they represent rebirth, starting anew, second chances....Isn't that what spring is? Each year we get a whole new set of opportunities, sort of like a clean slat washed clean by the rains and melting snow. The birds reappear (after summering south), build new nests, and lay their eggs. It's as though through that simple act of procreating, they send us a message of hope and possibilities for the coming days.

Though I've made a variety of bird projects over the years, this year my birds took a decidedly comical turn. I've come to think of them as my "goofy ass looking birds". I'm thrilled with the way they've turned out .............

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My husband is multi-faceted in his creative talents.. He is a documentary film maker, a writer, an outstanding editor, and a photographer. He reently had three photos accepted in a local gallery showing. He's very talented. He is responsible for all of my blog posting photos. Way to go Michael!!

These photos were taken one very frosty Michigan morning. Michael went to a local park to find beauty while I laid in bed complaining about the cold!

This photo was published in Stampington and Company's Life Images magazine last year!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Here is the farm house in color!
More pictures of Auntie Em's farm! I love the popsicle stick shingles Veronica created. They look so authentic. The wood of the farmhouse is worn and fits the era of farmers depicted in the movie.

Dorothy is wondering where Toto went :)

Off to See the Wizard!

Yea!! Another successful art swap with my friend from Virginia Beach! Veronica and I met online when she discovered my blog. We have been swapping art for almost a year now. We started with ATC cards and have just completed our first mixed media piece. We take turns choosing a theme. This time was Veronica's turn and she chose favorite movies. The twist was, that we would create a piece for each other's favorite movie rather than our own. Veronica's favorite movie is "Breakfast at Tiffany's". I created a piece for her based on that theme. I will post pictures of my work in my next posting. One of my favorite movies is "The Wizard of Oz". Veronica created this really fun piece depicting the tornado that initially takes Dorothy to the Land of Oz! There is so much movement and energy in this piece that I feel as though it's going to take off from my mantel (where it is proudly displayed) at any time! My husband is a wiz (no pun intended ) with Photoshop and I asked him to help me convey that energy in a photo. Well, he came through as usual! I have included two versions of the photo of my amazing house from Kansas. One is in black and white with some color shining through (because as everyone knows Dorothy does not experience color until she reaches Oz) and one in color. I love how Michael made it look as though the assemblage is actually caught up in a twister and I love the work that Veronica did to send me such a wonderful representation of my favorite movie. Has anyone seen Toto?............

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Poked and Prodded

In the last few months, I have found myself becoming too familiar with our health care system. As stated earlier, all of it was a result of my self neglect. The upside of all of this is that I am trying to take better care of myself. My motivation is two fold. I, naturally, want to live a long life, meet my future granchildren, grow old with my husband, and keep my loved ones from having to deal with an invalid. In addition though, I do not want to deal with the myriad tests, humiliations, pain, and loss of control that spending time in a hospital can bring. Though the health care professionals were all just that, professionals, the feeling of anonymity is unavoidable. I know how hard working doctors, nurses, and lab techs are and I don't suggest they are unfeeling or lacking in compassion. But, I know that even in my field, I have to keep reminding myself that my students are feeling, vulnerable beings and not simply a product of my work place. Ironically, my own son is beginning medical school in the fall. My recent experiences have prompted me to remind him that he will be dealing with human beings and that he should never lose sight of the fear and anxiety we all experieince when undergoing medical procedures. This assemblage was a direct result of my coming home from the hospital feeling very poked and prodded:)..............

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Alive and Feeling it Here in Michigan!

Tomorrow I begin a new year. It's my birthday and I am turning 54 years old! The number surprised me as I spent the last year thinking I was 52. When I commented to my husband last week that I couldn't believe I was turning 53 he said, "I hate to tell you this, but you've been 53 for a whole year"! Wow, I guess it wasn't too painful then was it? :) It is true what they say, as I get older, I begin to feel more comfortable in my old skin. I begin to care less about what others think and more about what is important to me. I also, sorry to say, sometimes forget to put all of those filters into place when dealing with others. I remember thinking that mom was so embarrassing when the older she got she began to say exactly what was on her mind to others. Now, I find myself doing the same thing. Life is too short to beat around the bush!
I've had to face some hard truths about myself this past year. I've had to learn to deal with the consequences of my actions when it comes to my health. Years of yo yo dieting have resulted in major health issues. Years of taking our weekly income for granted have resulted in financial difficulties as our state falls into an economic crisis. And, years of trying to bend my son's will to mine have resulted in his inability to move forward with his life without worrying about what I think.

Well, another year older, another year wiser. I monitor my eating very closely (loss of 24 lbs. thus far). I monitor my blood sugar and get extremely regular breast exams. I've learned to appreciate the income we have and am making efforts to get out from under unnecessary debt. And, I've tried very hard to convey to my son how much we love him and how very proud we are of the man he has become. We are thrilled to see him tackle a path that works for him and makes him happy in the process. We love his girlfriend and hope to welcome her to our family someday.
It's not all perfect, I have lots of growing and changing to do. But today, on the eve of my new birthday, I feel good. And that's what it's all about right? One day at a time...........

Friday, January 22, 2010

Michigan Annual Art Exhibit

I was truly humbled to be in the company of such beautiful art work! There is a wide variety
of mediums including mixed media, assemblage, digital art, sculpture, watercolor, oil, photography, and clay. Each piece was original and thought provoking. People said very nice things about my piece and there was a decent amount of interest.
Pet peeve: two ladies were enjoying looking at my work and in the process set a cup full of red fruit punch right on the pedestal with my ladies! One of them then proceeded to man-handle my work! Seriously?? Maybe they thought they had gone to the hands-on museum rather than an art gallery :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beauty Denied: The Trio

I'm so pleased to announce that the Trio "Beauty Denied" has been accepted by the Michigan Annual 36 Art Exhibit in Mt. Clemens. It's an honor to be a part of a show that is being judged by Charles McGee. I have always admired his work.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bruised, Battered, Beaten....

That's how this week ended up feeling. Wow! Don't we all start each work week with the determination to do our best, give it our all, and emerge triumphant by Friday afternoon? How often does that scenario work out? Not often is my experience. By the end of the week, I've usually lost sight of previous goals and forgotten good intentions. That results in waking up on Saturday morning thinking, "crap, just what did I accomplish this week?"If I'm the only one this happens to, then I really am in need of a little self-respect..........

Monday, January 4, 2010

Waiting for Inspiration............

I've been so artistically blocked over the past few weeks (eight weeks to be exact) and it has been extremely frustrating. I couldn't make myself pull things out to make art! (another good reason for my husband to build me a studio) I felt particularly bad because I'm in a monthly ATC exchange with my friend Veronica. Guilt led to blockage which led to more guilt which led to frustration!

I was finally able to make myself sit at the art table (otherwise known as my kitchen table) right after Christmas. I pulled everything out and then sat to wait for inspiration. And sat, and sat...

Then I remembered something that had helped me in the past. I have found that the trick to eliminating roadblocks, whether it be artistic blocks, problem solving blocks or anything else life may throw at you is to go back to what is familiar and comfortable.

I began my artistic journey drawing silly little cartoon-like characters (mostly males). I eventually moved away from that avenue and pursued other types of mediums. Last week, I started to fool around with one of my little characters named Stanley. I had so much fun revisiting him that it served to break my block, inspire my muse, and bring a smile back to my face! Thank you Stanley, thanks for the inspiration.......