Stuff Millie Picked Up and Carried Home on Dog Walks

Stuff Millie Carried Home From Walks, ink and watercolor 5x7.5 in

Stuff Millie Carried Home From Dog Walks, ink and watercolor 5×7.5 in

When Millie and I go out for walks she takes in the world around us with all her senses and when she finds something interesting, carries it home with her. In the sketch above are some of her more attractive treasures. Not pictured above are the various pieces of plastic, the advertising flyers for gardeners or maids stuffed in a baggie with a rock, and the many sticks and branches she’s carried home (the latter to chew and shred to mulch).

She walks with her nose to the ground for scents; ears perked for the sounds of gophers underground or dogs nearby or birds in the trees; eyes scanning for squirrels; and always looking for things to pick up and carry (or eat…ick!) during our walks.

One of the first things I had to teach her was “Leave it!” and “Drop It!” since so much of what’s on the ground in the city is nasty. She’s pretty good about dropping things, especially when she knows I’m carrying treats to swap with her for the yucky thing.

Dog Chews #4: From Stinky to Scratchy

Dog Chews 4, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Dog Chews 4, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

Sorry if you’re tired of dog chew posts…only two more to go after this and then back to more savory subjects. The only one of the above chews that met with any success was the hideously smelly “low odor” braided bully stick at the top. After chewing for a while the braided sections separated and I saved the other two pieces for later. But even with the door open and the air cleaner blowing freshly filtered air on me, the smell was disgusting.

My son recommended antlers for a long-lasting chew but his dog, a Pit mix is a heartier chewer and gives the antlers a good workout. (They also gave her teeth a good workout–she just had to have a cracked tooth removed for several hundred dollars.) Millie couldn’t make a dent in the very hard deer antler. She quickly scraped the marrow (?) out of the split-lengthwise (very expensive) elk antler and then had no interest in it after that first hour of chewing. 

The last bit at the bottom is a white rawhide chew called “Digest-Eeze,”  to be more digestible than plain rawhide, though still no more nutritious than eating your shoes or wallet would be (and these dogs chews are definitely eating my wallet!!!)

Millie was mildly interested in the rawhide; she chewed it for a few minutes and then buried it in the yard. When I gave her one in the house she buried it between the sofa cushions. She dug the one in the yard up a couple weeks later and chewed it enthusiastically. Maybe she thinks they need to ripen before eating? 

Dog Chew Toy Technology: It’s a Brave New World

Dog Chews 1, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Dog Chews 1, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

It’s a brave new world out there when it comes to doggie chew toys; much different than when I last had a dog a couple of decades ago. My 7-month old puppy loves to chew and it keeps her busy when I’m painting so I’ve been exploring (and drawing) the many new kinds of dog chew toys.

My previous dogs chewed rawhide (now known to not be good for dogs) or bones leftover from making soup (also not good, can splinter), and when naughty chewed the occasional shoe, pillow, kids homework, or dirty clothes (one chewed the arm off my mother’s sofa). Chewing for dogs is like reading a good book for us.

Two of Millie’s favorites so far are in the sketch above: a circular Bully Treat and an ostrich leg purchased from an upscale pet boutique Millie dragged me into when we walked by. The roasted ostrich bone is light and has a texture like honeycomb; it’s all digestible and doesn’t splinter, but it’s huge and while not cheap, for its size it’s not that expensive.

If you don’t know what Bully Treats or Bully Sticks (aka Pizzles) are, prepare to be grossed out. A Bully Stick is a bull penis that has been stretched, twisted or even braided and then roasted. They are 100% protein, entirely digestible (unlike rawhide), take a fairly long time to chew and won’t break dogs’ teeth like bones can.

They’re pretty smelly (even the “low odor” ones), but don’t leave a mess (except the one Millie buried in the backyard for a couple of weeks to let it ripen). It was unbelievably gross. I confiscated it immediately  and now only give them to her when I can be sure she won’t bury it outdoors.





What the Wasp Wants

What the Wasp Wants, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in (wasp in the flower)

What the Wasp Wants, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

This wasp just wanted nectar from the flower. My friend Barbara just spent big bucks getting rid of hundreds of wasps that built nests in her attic and were invading her house. We don’t know what they wanted. This is the last of the leftover sketches from our endless summer, now being called California’s worst drought in 500 years.

Meanwhile, I’m still spending time previously used for sketching out hiking with my pup (but from now on I’m going to start carrying my sketching gear on our hikes and stop halfway to sketch). Thinking a morning 4-6 mile hike would tire her out, I’ve been painting in the studio in the afternoons while she attempts to re-landscape the yard. She’s a perfect angel in the house, but when we’re in the studio (that opens onto the backyard) she goes wild, digging up and chewing on random junk from under the trees and bushes that circle the yard, despite her comfy bed in the studio, fully stocked with chew toys.

Today I caught her chewing on an old broken hose nozzle, a piece of plastic pipe, various twigs and pieces of plants, and a stinky chew toy she’d previously buried. Then we play chase while I try to swap her for something healthier. That gives me an idea for some sketching tomorrow–all her toys and chewie things, many which are quite weird.

2013: My Year in Review: Art, Diversions, Dog

Apricots and Butter Jar, Flemish Method, oil on panel, 10x10 in

Apricots and Butter Jar, oil on panel, 10×10 inches

I like to spend New Years Day reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the new one. While last year’s review post was full of artistic accomplishments, 2013 was a mixed year. It started off about art and ended with diversions, digressions and Dog. And in the middle I spent the summer studying Flemish oil painting technique with Alex Zonis, resulting in the painting above. (I took photos of each step along the way in this painting and will post about the process very soon.)

January 2013: Urban Sketchers show and painting dogs

Cocoa: Dog Portrait, oil on panel, 8x8"

Cocoa: Dog Portrait, oil on panel, 8×8″I

The year began well. I completed this commissioned dog portrait (one of five I did in December/January) and my Urban Sketchers group had an exhibit of our sketchbooks and hosted a sketchcrawl for the community.

February and March 2013: Sketching and Painting

Waiting and Watching at Peets, ink, 5x8"

Waiting and Watching at Peets, ink, 5×8″

I continued having fun sketching and completed several oil paintings (a decent portrait and some mostly unsuccessful sunflowers).

Poultry Panorama (2-page spread in my sketchbook).

Poultry Panorama (2-page spread in my sketchbook).

April 2013: Spring sprung; creativity flowed

Crab Apple Paired, Oil on Archival Panel, 10x8"

Crab Apple Paired, Oil on Archival Panel, 10×8″

April was a creative month, with several oil paintings completed including my favorite above. I started sketching in an 8 x 11 Moleskine (see bus sketch below) and attended a sketchcrawl, several museum shows, and the Codex Book Fair.

El Volado the Mexican Bus, ink & watercolor, 8x11"

El Volado the Mexican Bus, ink & watercolor, 8×11″

May 2013: Every Day in May

May was the best month of the year because of the Every Day Matters “Every Day in May” project. I had so much fun doing daily sketching!

EDiM 24-25-26, Laugh (Fiona), Tote, Screw, ink & watercolor, 8x10"

EDiM 24-25-26, Laugh (Fiona), Tote, Screw, ink & watercolor, 8×10″

A UK publisher asked to include a couple of the May sketches in a 2014 book on sketching.

June 2013: Started Flemish painting class and more dog portraits

Sam, A Dog Portrait in Oils, Oil on Panel, 8x8"

Sam, A Dog Portrait in Oils, Oil on Panel, 8×8″

After completing another commissioned dog portrait I began studying the Flemish oil painting method with Alex Zonis over Skype. The result was the Apricot painting at the top of this post, with more than 10 layers of paint, and three months work. I will post about the process soon.

July 2013: Hosted First West Coast Sketchcrawl

Coit Tower, from Levi Plaza.. SF Sketchcrawl 40, ink & watercolor 7x5"

Coit Tower, from Levi Plaza, SF Sketchcrawl 40, ink & watercolor 7×5″

My Urban Sketchers group worked hard for much of July to prepare for hosting the first 3-day West Coast Urban Sketchcrawl in San Francisco and Oakland which was a great success with nearly 75 people each day. Meanwhile, I continued working on the apricot painting.

August 2013: Show at the Collector Gallery

My wall in the group show at the Collector

My wall in the group show at the Collector

August was a month of many successes: after a lot of prep work for the show at the Collector gallery, I sold 5 paintings and a print (4 at the show, 2 from my website, 3 of which went to France and Switzerland). I continued working on the Flemish method apricot oil painting with Alex; still the only oil painting in progress in the studio.

September 2013: New York Art Adventure!

New Makeup for New York, ink and watercolor, 7.5" x 11" spread

New Makeup for New York, ink and watercolor, 7.5″ x 11″ spread

I bound a new sketchbook and shopped for things I needed for my trip to New York City after deciding my funky, frumpy Berkeley visage wouldn’t cut it in NY. FINALLY finished the Flemish method oil painting of apricots!

Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, ink and watercolor, 5.5x7.5"

Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, ink and watercolor, 5.5×7.5″

The NYC trip was fantastic! I had a blast, visiting with New York artist friends, going to museums and sketching the city. I didn’t want to come home!

October 2013: A sketchcrawl and the flu

Jack London Cabin and Wolf Statue, ink and watercolor, 10x7 in

Jack London Cabin and Wolf Statue, ink and watercolor, 10×7 in

I did very little sketching or painting in October as I was sick nearly the entire month from a bug I caught traveling that lasted three weeks and finally required antibiotics. I did manage to get to a sketchcrawl at Jack London Square.

November: Thanksgiving and surgery

Thanksgiving Centerpiece, ink and watercolor, 5x7.5 in

Thanksgiving Centerpiece, ink and watercolor, 5×7.5 in

I recovered from the October illness just in time to have a planned surgery on Halloween to correct a long-standing problem. The supposed 2-3 week recovery time took nearly 5 weeks. I was very grateful to be well enough to attend Thanksgiving dinner, my first real outing all month. I did very little sketching and no painting in November, due to limited mobility and energy.

December: It’s all about the DOG

My new dog Millie, ink and watercolor, 5x5 in

My new dog Millie sketched from life, ink and watercolor, 5×5 in

I’ve wanted a dog for years and finally, just as I recovered from surgery I found my perfect pup. I’ve had 5-month old Millie for one month and she is so much fun. We’ve been walking 3 to 7 miles in nature every day. She’s a 20 pound Formosa Mountain Dog, who was rescued with her litter in Taiwan and shipped here by a rescue group for adoption. When I met her it was love at first sight.

Millie in a winter sweater

Millie in a silly winter sweater

I’ve done very little artwork or blog posting while working out a routine with the dog and my two cats in December, recovering from surgery in November and October’s flu bug. Now it’s a new year and I’m finding my way back to painting and sketching again (and hopefully more regular blogging)!

Millie and I on adoption day

Millie and I on adoption day

Looking ahead in 2014

My goal for 2014 is to continue to explore and focus on how (and what) I most enjoy drawing and painting, and then work more consistently with that approach and subject matter. I also want to focus on being more present and connected to nature, the seasons, weather, and the calendar, and reflecting that connection in my art.

Happy 90th Birthday, Mom

90 Ladybugs for Mom's 90th Birthday, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

90 Ladybugs for Mom’s 90th Birthday, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

One of the many things I have to be thankful for this holiday season is that my mother just turned 90! I made this little birthday card for her with 90 ladybugs on it. Ninety sounds like a big number but when illustrated with ladybugs it doesn’t seem like that much.

She is still going strong, living independently in her own home, driving in the crazy L.A. traffic, cooking her own meals, and managing her own affairs. A few years ago she bought a computer and though it drives her crazy with its seeming capriciousness, she usually wins the battle to find her email, read it, and even print it when the stars really line up right.

She doesn’t paint anymore, but you can see a gallery of her artwork here from around the 1950s. Below is my favorite of her paintings: my grandmother Gertie.

My mother's oil painting of my grandmother

My mother’s oil painting of her mother, my grandmother

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Centerpiece, ink and watercolor, 5x7.5 in

Thanksgiving Centerpiece, ink and watercolor, 5×7.5 in

My sister Marcy hosted our Thanksgiving dinner and my niece Sophie made the stunning table centerpiece that my sketch above doesn’t do justice to. We added a new tradition to our Thanksgiving dinner: The thrift-shop Tacky Holiday Sweater Contest (below).

Tacky Holiday Sweater Contest Winners

Tacky Holiday Sweater Contest Winners

Mine was no doubt the ugliest but Robin’s (on the right) got extra points for being ill-fitting. It’s too bad you can’t see Nilla the dog’s lovely sweater, complete with jingle bells and ornaments. She only looks like a giant because of being closer to the camera. Britney (center) got extra credit for her Walmart faux-patent-leather skin-tight leggings to go with her Vegas-grandma-style sweater.

Endless Summer #1: Clark Kerr Campus, World News Box

World Journal News Box at Clark Kerr Campus,  ink and watercolor, 7x5x5.5 in

World Journal News Box at Clark Kerr, ink/watercolor, 7x5x5.5 in

Although cold autumn weather and even snow already arrived in much of the western hemisphere, always radical Berkeley begs to differ. We had an unusually unfoggy and warm summer, a toasty fall, and now, with temperatures in the 70s we’re back to summer again. So far 2013 is the driest year in Bay Area history with less rain than any year in recorded history, all the way back to the Gold Rush.

After a delay posting work from the summer due to various health issues, at least it doesn’t feel awkward to be posting them now, thanks to our seemingly endless summer.

In the sketch above, this bright red Chinese newspaper box on the Clark Kerr Campus immediately drew my attention. Clark Kerr was built in the 1930s as a residential school for the blind. When blind students began mainstreaming into regular public schools, the University of California Berkeley bought the complex for student housing. Clark Kerr’s beautiful, serene grounds and Spanish style buildings provide an oasis of sketching opportunities in the middle of a busy urban area.  

Emergency Response: Propane Tanker Overturns

Emergency response vehicles after double tanker truck overturned. Ink and watercolor, 7x5 in

Emergency response vehicles. Ink and watercolor, 7×5 in

A propane double tanker truck lost control and turned over at a freeway entrance/exit near my home around 3:00 in the morning. The emergency response teams evacuated people from nearby homes and businesses, including a nursery school, and then cordoned off two blocks on either side of the freeway. Oddly, they allowed traffic to continue flowing on the overpass right above the truck.

I didn’t realize any of this was going on until I tried to drive somewhere and couldn’t get on the freeway. I figured out another route, did my errands, and when I got home walked down to the scene with my sketchbook, paints and stool.

When I finished my sketch and headed home at 5:00 p.m. the fleet of emergency vehicles (including police, fire, utilities, and the Red Cross) and the small army of responders were just beginning to leave. Some of the evacuated residents were sitting on the curb, still waiting to be allowed back home. Fortunately nobody was hurt and the propane tanker didn’t leak. I’m so glad I live outside the evacuation area; I don’t know where I would have gone at 3:00 in the morning!

NYC Part 7 Finale: Bethesda Fountain, Yoko Ono, Verdi Monument, and Library Lion

Bethesda Fountain Angel, ink and watercolor, 7.5 x5.5 in

Bethesda Fountain Angel, ink and watercolor, 7.5 x 5.5 in

(To email subscribers: if no image appears above in your email, please click the title of the post above to see it directly on the blog.)

Walking back to Central Park on Sunday, Micaela and I stopped at The Dakota, a spectacular architectural landmark where Beatle John Lennon was killed and Yoko Ono still lives. The building was so well-guarded we were afraid to stop and draw.

But later, while sketching Bethesda Fountain (above), I looked up and saw Yoko Ono walking by a few feet away, on the arm of a tall, distinguished gentleman, apparently on her way home to the Dakota. Micaela didn’t see her and maybe didn’t believe me…you might not either…but I do.

Here are some images from nearby the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park:

Carol had shown us the tunnel by the fountain and pointed out the restrooms that are the best (or at least have the most stalls) in the park. Inside the tunnel we stopped to watch and listen to this amazing performance:

After our Central Park visit Micaela wanted to sketch another Upper West Side architectural landmark, The Ansonia. We sat in the Giuseppe Verdi Square where she had a view of the building and I sketched the monument (below).

Guiseppe Verdi Statue, NY, ink and watercolor, 7.5 x 5.5 in

Guiseppe Verdi Statue, NY, ink and watercolor, 7.5 x 5.5 in

As you can see from my comments on the sketch, I got really lost when it came to the sizes of the other figures on the monument. The guy in front looked like a baker to me but according to Wikipedia, the monument “depicts Verdi flanked by four of his most popular characters: Falstaff, Leonora, Aida, and Otello.” So I guess my chubby little baker is actually Falstaff in costume.

That’s a live pigeon on Verdi’s foot, not part of the statue. I wonder if statue sculptors ever think about the pigeons that will eventually sit on their subjects?

NY Public Library Lion, ink and watercolor, 5.5 x 7.5 in

NY Public Library Lion and Whole Foods Heads, ink and watercolor, 5.5 x 7.5 in

Soon it was time to meet Micaela’s daughter for dinner in Union Square. Along the way the bus stopped at the NYC Public Library so we hopped off to sketch the lions and then hopped back on the next bus.

We sat in the café upstairs at Whole Foods Union Square to wait for Juliette, where I had an odd experience. I was sketching a guy (second from the right above) and got his face totally wrong: no likeness at all. He left and another man sat down in his place. The new guy had the exact face I’d just drawn: perfect likeness. All I had to do was add hair because the first guy was bald.

After a late dinner in an Italian restaurant, we returned home to our cozy apartment.

The next morning, my last one in NYC, we went back to the Metropolitan Museum where we visited the “Balthus: Cats and Girls” exhibition. My favorite part of the show were the 40 small ink drawings he made when he was 11 of his adventures with his cat Mitsou. His mentor, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who at the time was his mother’s lover, wrote the preface and got the little book, Mitsou, published.

Then we explored the rest of the second floor, “European Paintings from 1250 to 1800.” It was exciting to see the Dutch and Flemish paintings since I’d spent my summer studying Flemish painting technique. But the biggest thrill of all was rediscovering Rembrandt portraits. Despite period clothing, the people in the paintings, even Rembrandt in his self-portrait below, looked so contemporary and authentic, like people you might see on the street.

Rembrandt self-portrait

Rembrandt self-portrait (detail)

After a week of visiting museums and seeing modern art that while ground-breaking when it created, often seems intentionally unskillfully rendered, it was so inspiring to see work full of passion and beautifully painted.

Then it was back to the apartment to pack and my trip home. A much more confident transit rider than when I arrived, I took the subway to Penn Station, transferred to the Long Island Railroad, then caught the Airtrain which was partially shut down for repairs, and then a shuttle bus to JFK. My Jet Blue flight home was very comfortable and went smoothly, so much better than the Southwest nightmare flight to New York.

NYC Part 6: Jana’s Ganja Guy and the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge and Ice Cream Shop, ink and watercolor, 7.5x5.5 in

Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, ink and watercolor, 7.5×5.5 in

Carol, Micaela and I got on the subway, heading to the Brooklyn Bridge. On the subway you get treated to exciting musical performances by buskers or you are subjected to rants by lunatics or pleas for money. Or all of the above, as they often take turns, getting on and off at each stop.

This time an extremely loud and annoying guy told a too long tale of his hardships, throwing in everything from the Iraq war to Hurricane Sandy. The man standing next to me had the sweetest face and long dredlocks. He gave the guy a dollar.

Here’s New Yorker Carol telling the rest of the story, from her funny blog post:

We got on the Lexington Ave. express. It was packed, but Micaela and I were lucky enough to get a seat. Jana was standing. As the doors closed we heard the familiar sound of someone asking for money. The man standing next to Jana gave the guy a dollar.

And then the unthinkable happened…Jana talked to the dollar-giving guy.

I was astounded.  Jana asked him if he always gives money to people begging on the subway or does he evaluate the story first and then give. The man told Jana he gives out of love and because he always gives money, he gets money back. Now he has a lot of money. Jana then asked what he did for money?  His reply? He sold da ganja.

Yep,  He sold marijuana.

Weed, Mary Jane, Waccy tobaccy. Chronic. Grass. He said he was from Trinidad and asked Jana what month she was born in. She told him and he said that according to the bible she was part of the tribe of Joshua. What tribe is that?  Where is that in the bible?  Mr. Chronic said it was in the LOST BOOKS of the Bible. Oh. We finally got to the Brooklyn Bridge stop where Micaela, Jana and I got off and Jana’s new best friend hoped that God blessed her and continued on.

Yep! I just get so curious I can’t help talking to strangers.

After the fascinating ride to Brooklyn the three of us walked across the bridge, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, with Carol pointing out the landmarks. Then she headed home to attend a birthday party and Micaela and I went in search of a spot where we could draw the bridge. Below are some views from the bridge:

The area of Brooklyn at the end of the bridge is called DUMBO, for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge.” The two bridges are just a few blocks apart and the area under and between them is packed with interesting shops and a variety of mostly renovated old brick apartment buildings and art galleries.

The annual DUMBO Art Festival was going on and the streets were filled with thousands of partiers, artists and bands. We skipped the crowds and found our way down to a new waterfront park by the “Famous Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory” right next to the bridge. (That’s the sketch at the top of the post and here’s a photo of it):

Famous Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

Famous Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

The sign in front of the lighthouse-looking building says “Famous Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory” in case you weren’t sure it was the “famous” one. We didn’t try the ice cream; the line was way too long.

When we finished our sketches it was early evening. Micaela and I wandered around the area, looking for the right subway station. I wanted to preview where I would need to go after dinner at my friends’ apartment nearby. She got on the train and went back to the Metropolitan Museum for the 8:00 p.m. John Zorn concert. I made my way through the DUMBO Art Festival chaos to Nora and Kevin’s beautiful, new apartment.

After fantastic home-cooked vegetarian dinner Nora, an art director, showed me her website (scroll down the page to see some of her recent work). I told her I’d seen Cutie and the Boxer and she said that they live a block away in a funky old apartment building full of artists and that most of the movie was filmed in DUMBO.

When it was time to leave they took me up to the roof to see their spectacular view first:

Rooftop View of the Manhattan Bridge

Rooftop View of the Manhattan Bridge with park in foreground

Nora pointed out the building next door and told me actor Ann Hathaway lives there. I wish I did!

New York City Trip Part 1: Three planes for the price of one

OAK to NYC-Flight In, ink and watercolor , 7.5 x 11" spread

OAK to NYC-Flight In, ink and watercolor , 7.5 x 11″ spread

I’m back from New York, happy to be home but a little sad to leave New York behind, and even sadder to have the sniffles, thanks to all the sneezing, coughing people on my planes. Next time I fly I’m wearing a mask. The flight to New York on Southwest was the only bummer part of the trip.

Seat Back Tray Still Life, ink and watercolor

Seat Back Tray Still Life, ink and watercolor

My flight was supposed to have a quick stop in Chicago but no plane change. I sketched my instant coffee (in a tea bag!) and swizzle stick on my seat-back tray (above). Later I added people waiting in the airport to the page.

Chopped salad with swizzle stick chop stick

Chopped salad with swizzle stick chop stick

(The swizzle stick came in handy when I went to eat the chopped vege and chicken salad I’d brought and discovered that Southwest has no silverware on board. The flight attendant suggested using two swizzle sticks like chopsticks. That’s one way to eat more slowly!)

So there we sit on the Chicago runway with doors closed….and wait…and wait. The woman sitting next to me is sneezing and coughing. I ask her if she’s contagious and she says no, she’s been sick for days already (ugh). I was about to change seats when they announce there’s a problem with the plane and we have to return to the terminal while they find us another plane. 

Waiting at Chicago Airport, ink and watercolor 5.5 x 7.5"

Waiting at Chicago Airport, ink and watercolor 5.5 x 7.5″\

Trying to be positive, I figure that’s better than flying with a bad plane, and now I have more time to draw. An elegant young man in a gray-green suit with his hair in a top knot played beautiful music on a lute while I sketched him and a Hasidic young father with his big hat and side curls.

Finally Southwest instructed us to walk to the other end of the terminal to board our new plane. We hustled across the terminal, lined up, slowly boarded and crammed luggage in the overhead bins again. And then waited. Again.

Southwest is known for being funny so I thought it was a joke when the flight attendant announced she was really sorry, but this plane also had a problem and we had to get off again and return to the terminal. But it wasn’t a joke.

Back in the airport they said they would find another plane and bring it to us. Twenty minutes later they told us to walk back to our original gate at the other end of the terminal to board what was hopefully a different plane (or the original plane, now fixed?). It was 10:00 PM, the time we were supposed to be arriving in New York.

That plane flew! Yay! I took a taxi from the dark, mostly closed Newark airport and arrived at the Upper West Side apartment I rented via AirBnB after 1:00 a.m. and went right to sleep.

(To be continued.)

Seeing Is Believing or Drawing Is Seeing? Zach’s Snacks on Berkeley’s North Side

Zach's Snacks on Berkeley's Northside, ink & watercolor sketch, 5x7"

Zach’s Snacks on Berkeley’s North Side, ink & watercolor, 5×7″

They say, “Seeing is believing.” I say, “Going through life without drawing is like being nearly blind. Only when I stop to look in order to draw, do I really see!”

Berkeley’s Euclid Avenue ends at the north side of University of California’s Berkeley campus (the greenery on the right, above). This block has everything you’d expect for a street abutting a college: shops with pizza, beer, coffee, burgers, snacks, and oh yeah, books.

There is some great architecture in this neighborhood too, including this apartment building with a snack shop tucked away in a little basement room. I’ve probably walked past here a hundred times and never noticed the interesting features of this building, with porches, pillars, carved wood decorations, fancy brickwork, and cool old lanterns.

Only when I stopped to draw and started really looking did I see what was there all along.

Happy Face? Donuts?

Dream Fluff Donuts, ink and watercolor, 5x7.5"

Dream Fluff Donuts, ink and watercolor, 5×7.5″

Do you have a happy face right this moment? I didn’t until I received a blog comment/email from a German blogger whose email and blog name is happyface313. It made me wonder what it would be like to be that committed to a happy outlook.

She inspired me to lose the grumpyface I’ve had the past few days while working on helping a loved one with difficult challenges, and to try out being Ms. HappyFace instead. I put on a smile, made the mental shift from grumpy to grateful, and surprise! It worked!

Happy Donuts, watercolor painting (sold)

Happy Donuts, watercolor painting, 15×22″ (sold)

What does all that have to do with donuts? Well, “Happy Face” made me think of Happy Donuts and my old painting of their shop (above), which reminded me I needed to post my recent sketch of Dream Fluff Donuts (at top). And donuts used to be my shortcut to happiness but I stay far away from those deep-fried, greasy sugar bombs now.


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