Wednesday, August 29, 2007

today and tomorrow

I won't be back until next Monday.
I would like to leave you with a little prayer written by my dear friend, Katherine.
Hail Mary, Patron Saint of Shoes
We are all with you
Blessed art thou among stylish women,
and blessed are your poor blistered, bleeding feet
Holy Mary, Mother of Sienna and Schatzi ,
Pray for us when we wear cute, uncomfortable shoes.

Monday, August 27, 2007

today and tomorrow

The Patron Saint Of Shoes

Right now I am looking down at my feet. The open bloodied blisters look as if I have received stigmata. With the amount of pain and suffering I have endured, I believe I would be a good candidate for sainthood.
Once again, I have bought another pair of uncomfortable shoes.
My quest for a cute comfortable shoe is never-ending. I have closets filled with what I call little works of art because of their non existing comfort level. These are not shoes to be worn but displayed in a gallery somewhere. Perhaps, on the shelves of the stores from which they came.
This weekend we are going to Poland and Prague for Labor Day and my feet are already aching. While I know the practical thing to do would be to pack a pair of tennis shoes, I just can’t bring myself to do so. I don’t want to look like a stupid American tourist.
John just does not understand how important this is to me. Superficial as it may sound, I start coordinating my outfits weeks before we travel anywhere.
I love that I wore my yellow snake skin cowboy boots in the Louvre despite the painful blisters. I think that made the Mona Lisa smile...
My dilemma is even more amplified with our upcoming trips to Rome and Japan in the next couple of months. I am not so worried about Japan. I might be able to pull off wearing little tennis shoes with a cute skirt but Rome, that’s a whole different story.
If John had it his way, I’d probably be trekking through the Vatican in a pair of Merrell hiking boots like the expensive ones he bought me when we first started dating. I haven’t had the heart to tell him, that they make blisters on my feet too.

Maybe the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile is telling us something.
She probably knew what it was like to wear uncomfortable shoes in the name of fashion. Leonardo only painted her from the waist up. Perhaps, he spared us by not showing her calloused and corn ridden feet.
Or maybe he just got sick of her complaining and had to stop there.

With all this mind, I am looking forward

to the possibility of being in a wheelchair when I am older.
It won't be so bad because I will be wearing little works of art upon my feet.


Da trennt sich die Spreu vom Weizen

(separate the wheat from the chaff)

Another German idiom taken from the "wine talks with Manuella"

John and I met a couple of people when we first moved to our little village that we though would turn out to be good friends. They had us over for dinner and invited us to different functions. Then a few of months went by with little or no contact. We were confused because they seemed so eager to get to know us. John blames the language barrier and the fact that we don't smoke. I think that my constant coughing and opening windows just became a nuisance.

I told this to Manuella the other night. She said that when you are new to a place, meeting many new friends is like a field full of wheat.

In June the fields are full with wheat. The farmer comes in August to separate the wheat from the chaff. The chaff is considered the fruit, the best part. This is what horses love to eat. What remains is used to line the stalls. Thus the saying-separating the wheat from the chaff.

While I don't necessarily agree that our German neighbors can be compared to fodder, I still think it takes a couple of months to find out who your true friends are.

Separating the wheat from the chaff is not particular to people. The term is also used to choose things that are high quality from a group of mixed quality.

When my grandmother on my father's side passed away in 1989, my dad inherited the daunting task of cleaning out her house. He had to separate the wheat from the chaff in order to have an estate sale.

Since Grand-Maw Lucy lived through the Depression, this was not the easiest job to do.

To this day, I am still haunted by the closet storing the Great Imperial Wall Of Sugar.

Americans began stockpiling 10 pound bags of sugar a year before the US entered WWII.

I believe Grand-Maw could have run the black market out of her hall closet.

Sugar rationing began in 1942 allowing just 12 ounces per individual per week-that is only a cup and a half. Rationing continued after the war until 1946.

It took us all summer to clean out the house. We learned a lot about her, sifting through the multitude of boxes, closets and drawers. At times, it was more than we cared to know.

But how can one truly separate the wheat from the chaff with someone else's prized possessions?

Breaking down the sugar wall was a symbolic act for me. As I placed each hardened bag into my Dad's rusted wheel barrel, I was reminded of all the Christmas cookies, apple pies, and other sugary treats that made going to Grand-Maw's house complete.

I now have my own special meaning for separating the wheat from the chaff.

It may take some effort separating the sugar from the closet, but in the long run, you find out who your loved ones are............

Saturday, August 25, 2007

yesterday today and tomorrow

Herzlich Wilkommen


from the heart)

It took me many years to overcome the shyness that haunted my youth.

I have distinct memories of averting my eyes to avoid contact and hiding behind my long blanket of bangs. As painful as this was, I can say it attributed to my ability to find things on the ground. I consider myself pretty skilled and therefore I am usually called upon when a contact lens,diamond earring,or other minuscule object is lost.

It would stand to reason my interest in collage. I have boxes and boxes of scraps from years of looking down. Some we left in storage, that I think I need. Discarded receipts, stamps, grocery lists, movie tickets-you dropped it? I probably have it.

My greatest thrill is going to flea markets. Here I feel more comfortable wearing dark sunglasses to avoid eye contact while I peruse through someone else's scraps.

I have been finding broken pieces of pottery on my walks with John and the dogs. This has become my latest obsession because I want to make a mosaic table when we get back to the States. The other day I placed all the pieces together to see how many I have. I actually found the single red tile (at the bottom) outside of the Red Light District in Amsterdam!
We are going to a flea market today-I'll let you know what I find.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Finished this one today.
This painting seems so sad to me. I guess more somber. The objects are quietly sitting there not really demanding attention. If they could speak, they would be saying ," just move along nothing to see here."
I don't know. Maybe it's time to retire that old blue vase.
It is date night tonight. The weeks just fly by for me. I wish John felt the same way.
We are going to walk the dogs to the next town. There is a brewery with outdoor seating overlooking the countryside. I bet the walk home will be longer.
I love that you can take your dogs everywhere in Germany.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


This is day one with about 4 hours worth of work. Tomorrow I will fix the right side of the blue vase because it looks flat. The plate needs more work especially at the bottom. I borrowed it from Katherine. She got it in Deruda, Italy. The same pattern as the oil bottle I painted a while ago.
I found that blue vase at a thrift store in Lewisville,Texas about 15 years years ago. It has shown up in a number of my paintings throughout the years. Funny the stuff you hold on to...
The background needs more umph! That is actually is a pashmina that I got in Pisa (say that 3 times fast) I will add more golden , so it doesn't look like baby poopa. Really, that is actually the color. It looks better on than a backdrop.
I love the baby peppers. They are no bigger than my fist. I have no idea what they taste like.
I will let you know after the painting is finished.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


What a wonderful day! I had lunch with a new friend, whom I met online.
We met in Weil Der Stadt, a walled city a few miles from where I live.
I found her blog through a google search and realized we had a lot in common. We are both newlyweds living in a foreign country and not working for the first time in our lives. I just knew we'd hit it off. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. We plan to see each other again with our husbands.
The sky was unusually blue today, but
I guess it just seemed that way
because it's always varying shades of grey............

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

yesterday and today

I wanted to share with you a few pages from an altered book that I did after my grandmother passed away almost two years ago.
I had taken a class in college called Art Of The Book. Since then the whole scrapbooking craze has taken over providing oodles of different tools and techniques.
The whole process of making this book was very therapeutic.
I took careful consideration choosing each image and was able to reflect upon many good memories.
Mimi loved butterflies. She even had a bathroom wallpapered with them.
She was a member of the Browning club which I never knew was a group of women who met to discuss Robert and Elizabeth Browning's work. As a child I thought it was the brownie club and they just served brownies.
She also was a devout Catholic and probably still is....I guess some things don't change in Heaven.
She loved to play solitaire and would play for hours on end. Something I just can't understand, but I am sure there are things we all do for enjoyment that others find questionable (I really like public radio).
I haven't done another altered book since then. Perhaps, this was just my creative outlet as a way to hold on to Mimi just a little bit longer.

Monday, August 20, 2007

today and yesterday

Finally finished with this painting.
John and I have an unspoken schedule for whose turn it is to take the dogs out in the morning. You know it's your turn when you are the one getting pushed out of bed.
The other morning I was relishing in the fact that it wasn't my turn only to be awoken by Schatzi licking my face. I was so confused that I thought it wasn't Schatzi, but an entirely different dog. John must have brought the wrong dog inside. It took me a few minutes to recognize my own little girl!
Recognition is defined as the identification of something as having been previously seen, heard, known, etc.
John hates when I ask who someone is when we have met them before. When I meet someone, I try to associate something to their face hoping this will make them memorable. This approach never works, because all I remember is that this particular person looks like a horse or a rat.
My grandmother passed away 2 weeks shy of her 100Th birthday. In her lucid moments, you would have never guessed she had dementia. She was the cunningly-witty grandmother that I lovingly adored throughout my life. She loved to be the center of attention. I am told that I am just like her in that respect.
These lucid moments were transitory. A dark cloud of nonrecognition would abruptly creep in causing her to look helplessly around the room. She would catch your gaze with the question," ..... and just who are you again?"
I was so glad John had the chance to meet her before we left for Germany.
She met him many times that day we visited her and I am certain she liked him every time.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


went to downtown Stuttgart today. Every Saturday they have a flea market in the Marktplatz. So many interesting things to see, but nothing you can't live without.
How about a stuffed marmot to compliment the African sculpture portraying a primitive breast exam?
We had lunch at an Australian restaurant and had emu. My thought is that if everything tastes like chicken, why not just serve chicken?
Not that there is an over abundance of chickens, but probably more so than emu. I am not exactly sure what an emu is, to be quite honest. I can only picture something like it in a Dr. Seuss book I had when I was young.
John goes back to work on Monday. I guess tomorrow he will be in mourning. We can get back to a schedule and I promise to finish that painting. His surgery was a great success. He can breathe so much better now and I am still crossing my fingers or pressing my thumbs , as the Germans do, that it fixed the snoring problem.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


"Er hat nicht alle Tassen im Schrank!"

Usually I carry a little notepad with me to jot down random thoughts and ideas. It's particularly handy the evenings I spend on our patio drinking wine with my neighbor, Manuella. Whenever she spits out an interesting German saying, I have her repeat it a couple of times so I get it right. The German saying shown above translates to "He doesn't have all the cups in his cupboard" which is similar to the English idiom ,"....a few fries short of a happy meal"

Learning to speak German has proven to be an uphill struggle, one where staying at the bottom will just have to suffice. I only know words, but putting them in a sentence, forget it. I bet I sound like I don't have all my cups in the cupboard.

German idioms often contain a picture which has no direct connection to the English meaning. I am sure this is not strictly unique. When I think of the all the many English sayings, especially from the South, I am glad that English is my native tongue.

In a way, I feel like a failure for not learning to speak German while living here. I just have such a hard time seeing the forest for the trees and it would probably be easier if I wasn't running around like a chicken with my head cut off.
Right now I need to put my cups in the cupboard because I don't have a dishwasher and they're just waiting for me on the draining board.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Have you ever had one of those days when everything just seemed like a big process? I finally got the nerve to go to the doctor today for a pain that I have been having in my lower left side. Last night John put the number on redial so all I had to do wake up and hit the button on the phone. He is sick of me complaining. I hate going to the doctor! It always seems like a big waste of time. Today was the last straw. I am not going ever again , unless I am on my death bed and by then it will too late.

The doctor wants me to come back in 2 weeks for a follow up. Maybe, the pain will subside. John says not to worry that military health care is a process-one I need to get used to. In the meantime, I am probably riddled with some kind of horrible bacterial disease.

Process is defined as a systematic series of actions directed to some end. (perhaps my own)

My shadows are all off on my painting. I will have to finish up on Friday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Day 1 on this one. I actually had to stop painting to go buy some smaller brushes. This is getting ridiculous. I have never even used a size 2 brush, but this still life is really detailed for a 9x12 canvas. I am becoming obsessed with details. Perhaps, the Poo-Poo Shelf is effecting me.
I found the bottle, candy dish, and embroidered round at the infamous thrift store on base. I love that place! The pears came from our tree in the backyard. I have to put in all the shadows tomorrow and I should be finished.
John is feeling much better. He returns to work next Monday. Although he has been in pain, it has been nice having him home.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

today,tomorrow,and yesterday

As you know,
there has been
a few things
I've had to get
accustomed to here in Germany. I can say that I have adapted to stores being closed on Sunday,drinking fizzy water without ice, no air-conditioning,and church bells that ring every hour on the hour. I now present to you my biggest challenge,our bathroom toilet, a.k.a. "The Poo-Poo Shelf" or in German the "Flachspueler"(flatflusher). As a people,the Germans are noted for their efficiency and order. This device contradicts any evidence of those traits. The shelf has no apparent function and requires a certain amount of skill to avoid it. Otherwise, one is expected to develop a close personal relationship with their own refuse. Flushing many times is the only way to end this partnership- very,very inefficient. Males must master the technique when peeing to avoid the splash-back effect, which would be similar to peeing on a flat rock, or sit to avoid it all together. Some toilets have a sticker under the lid reminding males to sit. This is called the Sitzpinkel Rule.
Around 1900 the shelf was the best defense against intestinal disease providing a perfect examining tray for the result of undercooked pork, meaning-WORMS! Since then meat inspection has improved dramatically and the shelf is no longer necessary. Now there are more modern toilets similar to the ones we use in America, but some of these torture devices still remain. Including the three we have in our house.
In Sigmund Freud's stages of development the second stage is the anal stage. It is characterized by the development of pleasure by controlling waste. This is the time that children begin to potty train. If some conflict arises during this phase (2-3yrs.), the child may exhibit anal personality traits including a strong desire for efficiency and order.
I would imagine a German toddler having quite a bit of conflict forced to confront the "Poo-Poo Shelf". Perhaps, this early training is why they grow up to be so efficient?

Friday, August 10, 2007


Looking For Land To Rent In Germany?

John had surgery on his sinuses yesterday. A procedure called FESS. It was a gruesome surgery- drilling his nasal passage to allow the infection to drain. I have never seen him in so much pain. He threw up all night and my nursing skills are not much to be desired as I threw up with him. He is resting better today and able to keep a little food down.
His surgery was at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Ramstein, which is about a two hour drive. This is the hospital that treats the wounded soldiers from Iraq. Usually, two or three flights arrive each day, at any time. When a flight arrives, the overhead paging system announces: “All available personnel to the ER!” Everyone here knows what that means. This happened right before John's scheduled surgery.
I know that this may seem like the worst seque, but the dogs had to take a bathroom break on the drive there. We stopped for a quick walk in the woods and came across a field of broken gravestones. On first glance , it seemed they were never used-perhaps rejects? Then I remember hearing that the Germans rent their gravestones for 20 years. It is up to the church or civil authorities to grant renewal. Renewal is not often granted because space is limited. The graves are reused with the remains buried in another location. That is to say, there are remains. They know exactly how long it takes according to soil conditions for the body to decompose. This field was a dumping ground. John was not in the mood, so I didn't get to bring anything back with me.
So if you had the wild idea of visiting grave sites of deceased ancestors in Germany , it might be a grave mistake!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Half Empty Or Half Full?
I know that I am not the only one who has a person in their life that just can't seem to see the glass as half full. Sometimes my perspective is so off, I can't even see the damn glass. For the most part, I like to see mine as half full. Especially when drinking German wine!
I believe we seek out people in our lives whose glasses appear more full than our own. I am fortunate to have a few of those people in my life. I even married one. But what about those "half empty glassed folks"? The ones that see you with a fuller glass? I always seem to have at least one that can't catch the hint that I am through listening to them constantly complain. I know I am a good listener, but I am not getting paid for my advice and it really irks me.
I know it is futile to tell someone who has a pessimistic outlook that things are not so bad. Again it depends on your perspective. What's bad to you may be completely tolerable to someone else. Having a positive realistic perception has been proven beneficial to good mental health. There are studies that it can prevent illness, including heart disease. This realistic perception can also be negative and lead to depression. I think people prone to depression may actually have more realistic perceptions of their own image, importance, and abilities than the average person. People who see the glass as half full may be kidding themselves. They might even be somewhat delusional. However, I guess you have to be somewhat delusional in order to cope with some situations in life.
German weather offers many days with grey skies. Today was one of those days. Grey can be a beautiful color when you are able to see what a contrasting background it makes against a field of wildflowers, pastel stuccoed villages, or the beginnings of Autumn in the trees.
Life is much easier to go through with a half full glass, so pour yourself some more wine and quit your bitching!

Monday, August 6, 2007

yesterday today and tomorrow

Throughout my 40 years, I have learned to accept and embrace my sensitive nature. People have always told me to get a thicker skin. Though I have tried to be tough, I have come to realize that I wouldn't be the artist that I am and it's okay. Call it defeat, call it cowardliness, or better yet - call it self acceptance.
Living in Germany among people that are prone to be more "direct" as opposed to the polite Southern "indirectness" I am accustomed to has been a huge challenge.
I saw this advertisement at Burger King the other day. It might explain why some Germans appear....... well, not so happy.
I imagine the really angry ones order their Angry Burger with the Angry onions featured on the left.
I have found that not all Germans are intrinsically angry or rude. Although, I do struggle with this, because of my American perspective. They just find it easier to be honest and more direct.
Up until October I played on a German women's soccer team. I had to quit because of my knee(but we won't talk about that) The language barrier off the field was quite difficult at times. One game I showed up with a new red hair color and a team mate told me that it didn't look good, the blonde was better, and it made me look old. Could you imagine saying that to someone? To make it even worse I had just given her a birthday present. I am still upset about it. In her mind she was just letting me know, but I didn't even ask.
I have ordered a book called "The Xenophobe's Guide To The Germans"
It is on back order and I won't receive it until December. Apparently, there are more of us that need this survival guide book. A xenophobe is one unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin. I don't consider myself a xenophobe, but perhaps the book will shed some light in better understanding the culture.
Again, it is all about perspective. Americans are used to small talk or so called chit-chat in the South. There is no word for small talk in the German language. This may be a reason Americans perceive Germans to be rude. When Americans say "Hi,how are you?" the Germans think we are being nosey. This is a greeting only used for close friends. Not something that you ask just anybody passing by.
I had to laugh when I went back to see my family in Shady Shores. People held doors open, sales clerks talked about their sore feet, fellow shoppers complimented my handbag and shoes.
It is very different here, but I wouldn't exchange the experience for the world.
I guess I just need a thicker skin..........

Saturday, August 4, 2007


Swimbad gehen.

Today I went swimming with my German neighbor,Manuella and her 4 year old daughter,Karina.This is a nice pic of the pool.I spared you by not taking pictures of the old German men in their speedos with beer bellies.The Germans are very proud of their beer,as well they should be.Some wear their bellies as a status symbol to show how much money they have spent.

We will probably go again tomorrow,if the weather is nice.You just never know here in Germany. The other day I was wearing a sweatshirt.These are supposed to be the Dog Days Of Summer.It really is for the dogs.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


WE MISS OUR DADDY! Three more days until John comes home.
Nothing exciting to report today. I had to go on base to check the mail and visit the thrift store, of course. I found a couple of still life objects. I am anxious to get started on the next painting. I don't know how much work I will get done tomorrow because Aisha just informed me that we are going on a walk at 2 o'clock.I have so much trouble speaking German, it is easier just to nod yes. Most of the time, I don't even know what I am agreeing to. This is scary due to her apparent fascination with my upper half.
Look at poor Sienna-she really misses John .I know exactly how she feels.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Finito! I am pretty pleased with this one. I still have to paint the stupid gallery wrapped sides.

While I was painting today I thought about this toy I had growing up-The Lemon Twist .I don't know why I thought of it.I guess I was thinking about how obsessed I was with it.I would do it for hours every day. Do you remember it? Here is a picture I found online.I wish I still had mine. I bet I couldn't do it anymore.It wouldn't even go around my cankles! In case you can't remember that long ago-like 35 years, here are the directions: According to the Lemon Twister package:
1. Place one foot into spinning loop about ankle high.
2. Starting with the Lemon extended outward, swing Lemon in a forward loop as you raise foot slightly off the ground.
3. As Lemon comes around towards other foot, raise that foot high enough for Lemon to swing clearly under it.
4. Continue the Lemon swinging on one foot as you jump over it with the other foot, using a sort of “jog-in-place” action.
5. After a little practice you’ll be able to “jog forward” as you hop, skip and jump over the rotating Lemon.

I am so glad I grew up in the 70's...............