Friday, September 28, 2007

Monkey business

Yesterday animal rights activists in Austria vowed to go to the supreme court to get a chimpanzee declared a person. The group believes that chimpanzees are beings with interests.

If granted, Hiasl (prounced Hee-zul) a 26 year old chimp will be given basic human rights, which includes the right to life, the right to freedom, and the right NOT to be tortured.
This really alarmed me. Is a supreme court ruling really necessary? Are these rights strictly designated to being a person and where do we draw the line?
Does the recent study of finding chimpanzee DNA 99% related to humans make this justifiable? Since sharks are also 99% related to humans, are they next to be declared fellow citizens?
I even heard a rumor that New York Senator, Hillary Clinton is promising to make monkeys into real citizens for her presidential fundraising campaign.
Although I can say the results from the chimpanzee study did help me cope throughout my 12 year stint as a retail manager. I really felt that my co workers were lacking the same one percent. I often considered myself the "Jane Goodall" of retail managers and would show up to meetings with a bag of banana chips , prepared to combat any fecal matter thrown my direction.

Upon further research, scientists are now claiming chimpanzee’s DNA to actually be 95% closely related to humans.

Apparently their research was not thorough enough the first time, they needed to sit in on a couple of retail management meetings.
Who knows maybe the percentage will change again after the next presidental election?

The above photo is Katherine at the Rock of Gibraltar entitled, "The Monkey On Her Back"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


One of my favorite games as a child was playing church with my friend, Mary. We would flip a coin to decide who played the nun. The looser had to be the priest which involved passing out Wonder Bread hosts and pouring grape juice wine. The coveted role of the nun wore a habit fashioned from a white pillowcase thus becoming "Sister Mary Pillowcase".
I like to believe that all Catholic girls played church and dreamed of being nuns when they grew up. I was fascinated by these women even though they scared me immensely.
I will never forget the time Sister Beth took our 4th grade class on a tour of the convent.
What a privilege to see where they lived beyond our classroom walls. In each bedroom there was only a single bed with a crucifix on the wall and a chair. That was it!
Oh, to live so simply....
My fascination to join the convent was replaced by a fascination for boys about 4 years later, but my nun fear remained throughout my Catholic schooling. Still today I suffer from a serious case of nun-damage.
Our residence in Rome was just outside the Vatican walls. There were nuns everywhere- millions of them from all over the world. One day I caught a burning stare from a nun , and I realized the skirt I was wearing didn't quite cover my knees. I felt so ashamed. That same day I came across a nun supply store -"one stop shopping for all your nun needs."
They had it all. I never questioned where they got their outfits. It was just something you accepted, like the many notions dealing with Catholicism.
Do you think you need to present some kind of nun identification card to shop there?

Please check out

and see my newest release of limited editions. It is part of the signature collection under Thorngren.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Pope's Shoes

Yesterday a charity in Minneapolis received a surprise gift from the Vatican, from the Pope Himself even. It was 2 boxes of Italian shoes that were to be distributed to the homeless. Now I would never question the motives of the Pope, but have you ever worn Italian shoes?

Let me tell you, I've worn plenty. In fact, I bet they are the reason for my present podiatric problems. Do we really want to afflict any more suffering upon the poor? I know, I know at least they have shoes.

I wonder why He didn't just send a couple of boxes of Birkenstocks? He is German, after all. Maybe it was in the name of fashion, not comfort.

By the second day pounding the cobblestones in Rome, I was starting to spiral downward into a depression because my feet were in such pain. John said that if I was living in Alabama on welfare, pregnant and addicted to crack then I could be depressed. I was in Rome for God sakes!

Then I remembered the deformed pigeon I saw in San Marco Square in Venice. He was hobbling around with no feet, just stumps. Like me, he had no reason to complain because at least he was in Italy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I did not bite the ham!

John invited a co worker to spend Christmas with us 2 years ago because he was TDY and his family was in the States.

I made a ham for dinner, we watched the movie Bad Santa(new tradition) and played the DVD game 'Scene It'. Not your normal X-Mas, but it was fun.

The next morning I was abruptly woken to take part in a CSI investigation. While we were sleeping someone had gone into the refrigerator and taken a bite out of the ham. The bite mark did not match our guest or John. Sienna was disqualified because she doesn't have teeth. We didn't have Schatzi at the time, so this left me. I refused to take the silly bite test. The last thing you want to do first thing in the morning is bite a slice of ham especially on X-mas morning!

I knew I didn't bite the ham. It is my story and I am sticking to it. "I did not bite the ham!" is my mantra. I will go to my grave saying it and it will be inscribed on my tombstone.

I repeated this mantra when I placed my hand in the Mouth of Truth (La Bocca della Verita), located in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedian. You can see in the photo above. The most famous characteristic of the Mouth is its role as a lie detector. Starting from the Middle Ages, it was believed that if one told a lie with his hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off. The piece was placed in the portico of the of the church in the 17th century.

I did not bite the ham and I have both hands to prove it.

You believe me, don't you?

I don't exactly know what Federico Felini meant when he said that Rome welcomes you when you come and forgets you when you go.

Maybe because it is called the Eternal City and it will continue with or without you. I am sitting here in Germany as Rome continues without me a little numb and a bit disheartened.

Apart from Naples and border towns in Mexico, Rome is the about the dirtiest city I have ever been to. I couldn't believe the lack of respect for a city so rich in history. It is amazing the preservation of all the art and ruins, but it seems ironic coupled with all the trash and graffiti. Ignore the paper bags, dirty diapers, empty boxes and Rome will welcome you with all of it's riches.

I have waited all my life to see the Sistine Chapel, so waiting a couple of hours in the rain with thousands of people didn’t matter too much. However, our tour guide’s English was not so great and she had difficulty coordinating her mouth with the microphone. She hustled our group through all the Vatican galleries to get to the Sistine Chapel before the closing time. Luckily, we were the last group to be crammed in with about 400 hundred other sweaty tourists before they closed the door. The guards were telling everyone to move back and be quiet. I was too afraid to look up. Katherine suggested I bring binoculars. Since I had never used them before, I was having trouble adjusting the focus. Slowly God’s Hand came into view. I moved a little to the left and there was Adam. The lens became foggy and I was loosing focus. John looked at me and said, "oh my God you're crying?!"

I don’t think I saw much more-because I started hyperventilating. I couldn't believe I was actually seeing it with my own eyes, but I had to get out of there and fast. Near the exit, John held my head straight so I would see the Last Judgement. I don’t remember seeing it, but he said I did. The rest of the day-I had trouble formulating words-more trouble than usual. The whole experience was just that-speechless.
I know now I can be the method-actress I always wanted to be. I can cry on cue just thinking of the Sistine Chapel.

Even now in my little German village as Rome continues on without me.........

Sunday, September 23, 2007






I will tell you all about everything this week-stay tuned! Click on each postcard to view up close.

Friday, September 14, 2007

yesterday and tomorrow

Cafe Bar Cortona
20 x 20

When In Rome Do As The Romans Do............

It will be a challenge to
adhere to this saying when we are in Rome next week.

September 13th,2007 marked the first pasta strike in Italy due to a 20% price increase.
Manufacturers say the main reason is that many farmers are replanting their wheat fields to take advantage of the demand for bio fuels. Wheat stocks worldwide are at the lowest levels in 25 years.
The one day strike was a symbolic gesture to express the citizen’s feelings on the matter. Italians refused to buy pasta at supermarkets and restaurants and agreed not to eat it at home.
It goes without saying that Italians love their pasta.
With Italians consuming 51 pounds per year compared to North Americans who eat 151/2 pounds, how could they possibly go one day without? A recent poll found 50% of Italians preferred a good plate of pasta to sex. Keep in mind, Italians are known for their amorous nature.

For those unable to bear the sacrifice, strike organizers set up emergency stations offering free bread and milk to ease the pain of carbohydrate depletion.
Since the strike was only one day, I don’t think it will effect us. Maybe there will more pasta for us!
I am concerned about an espresso strike, since espresso has also seen a price increase.
I can only hope there will be emergency stations set up to combat my caffeine withdrawal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Today's painting



I don't really consider myself a wine snob, but I can act pretty snobbish when I have to share. The other night after "driving the bikes" Manuella invited herself over for some wine. Since she is going to look after Sienna and Schatzi while we are in Rome next week, I had to be nice and agree to"her" invitation.

John bought me an antique riddler's rack for our anniversary this year. A riddler's rack is used to rotate bottles of champagne to get the sediment to fall into the neck in order to remove it.

I use it for storing wine. It has been a struggle to keep it looking well stocked. Most of the time it just stands as an empty reminder that it is time to buy more wine or to signal I have a serious problem.

Part of this problem is that I have a hard time saying no Manuella. I enjoy our time together, but when you refuse her, it's as if her whole world comes crushing down.

John says I should store my empty bottles in the rack. I think that's just plain crazy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

yesterday and today

Last night we had to attend a function with John’s co workers and their families.
I don’t know why I get so anxious meeting military-folk. I know they are just normal people, well most of them. I guess it is because I don’t have children and I feel the need to explain myself.

I am considered a freak of nature because I am 40 and I chose not to have kids. I worry that my explanations are not valid and appear selfish. Like, I didn’t want to get fat or share my husband or that I wanted to travel.
I had a dream the night before that I was having to show my ID card and it kept falling apart. It was like I was 16 again rehearsing the name and birth date on my fake one (yes, mom I had one) before getting into a club.
You even had to know your fake astrological sign just in case the bouncer quizzed you.
In the dream the ID card was actually mine, but they didn’t believe it.
Luckily the evening went fine and I didn’t have to explain myself. No one asked my astrological sign either.
All in all, I guess I am still trying to present to the world my identity -no matter how flimsy it may seem . Although, I have become more valid with age, I still get anxious when questioned.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Today's painting




I didn't get to finish the stems as much as I wanted because of 2 interruptions.

First, Aisha appears at my studio window with a bunch of flowers from her garden. I was wearing all black the other day when I had lunch with Katherine. Apparently she thought someone had died and I had been to a funeral.

With my broken German I assured her that all was okay and nobody had died. American women wear black because it makes them appear thinner.

I have to laugh every time I glance at the lovely vase of funeral flowers on my dining room table.

Second, is that Manuela, my other neighbor, has a new bike. We usually walk our dogs together, but now she has the crazy notion that it is better to take them with our bikes. In her broken English she calls it, "driving the bikes". This is definitely a workout! Though going up hill is a cinch with them on the leash. I can say this isn't the safest way to exercise your dogs, but it does wear them out.

She insisted we drive the bikes before I was truly finished with this painting-so I will touch it up tomorrow.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Until The Cows Come Home.......................

Friday, September 7, 2007

today and tomorrow

Today's painting 4x6
garlic and onion

Previously I was the visual director for a department store in Colorado. I lived in 4 different cities in the course of 10 years. Each city provided a new start along with a new set of friends.
Coincidentally, in each city I became friends with German women. I remember asking myself, "What is it with me and the Germans?"
I suppose I was just drawn to their free- spirited ways.
Each friend was similar, because they were always up for a good time.
There was no waiting for the weekends with these girls, resulting in my daily morning addiction to Starbucks’ vanilla lattes
How funny that a few years later I would be living in Germany. Since then I have figured out the answer to my question. I have found most Germans are festive by nature and how could they not be?
They can find just about any reason to celebrate.
As if they need an excuse to drink their great beer and wine.
In Autumn every village advertises their particular festival in celebration of their harvest. An opportunity for family and friends to gather. I don't recall such events back in the States other than the obligatory holiday or birthday. Don't get me wrong, but it appears they actually enjoy spending time with their families.
Not that I don't. It just seems well, different that's all.
Since I have grown older, it has become increasingly harder to be festive on the week nights but, I am not so old that I cannot celebrate during the weekends- not yet, at least.
Tomorrow we are going to Pfronten, a town in the Bavarian Alps to see the cows come home.
During the summer months cows are held in the mountains to allow them to feed in the best alpine pastures. In the beginning of Autumn the alpine dairy men gather the herd and transfer them back down to the valley, providing a rich celebratory festival.
And yet,
another excuse to drink good beer in Germany.
Exciting photos to follow..............after Starbucks of course..

Wednesday, September 5, 2007



I have just learned
of a very dangerous
organization called
The Garden Gnome Liberation Front.
They stand by the principle that

having a garden gnome in your garden is a form of slavery.
Their mission is to relocate these little
fellows back to

They will stop at nothing.

Please take special precautions and reposition your gnomes. They are not safe from watchful eyes. If you want to learn more about this go to

Let's all join together to guard our little garden guardians.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


"Czech us out!"

Prague, the most enchanting city as of yet. I could not believe all the architectural beauty. Every building was embellished. I just could not take enough pictures.

Saturday evening we met a Swedish man at dinner. He told us the prettiest sunset he ever saw was in downtown Dallas just outside the Greyhound bus station.

I believe everyone is entitled a fond memory or two therefore, I didn't spoil his. The sunsets in Dallas are more vibrant because the rays filter through the smog.

Again, It is all about perspective..........


We want to move to Poland!
We arrived in Boleslawiec mid afternoon on Friday, just as our friends Naomi and Brain were checking in. What a complete surprise! As it turned out, John and Brian were talking at work and found out we were both going to Poland and Prague. They decided to keep it a secret from the wives to surprise us.
We stayed in an 18Th century converted barn which offered a taste of rural Poland. Barnyard animals excluded except for the roosters.
I can say that I would move to Poland for the beer alone, but the fact the 4 of us ate dinner totaling 25 dollars (after the conversion) had me sold. You could eat out every single night and never grow tired of the food. You'd be big as a house,but insulated during the hard winters.
We spent the next morning shopping for pottery. Boleslawiec has a history of pottery making since the 7Th century. The traditional pattern is shown in the photo above with many variations. I of course, like the more colorful pattens and choose a couple of serving pieces which are all completely different.
I am fully prepared for the large imaginary dinner parties that go on in my head and feel I can now set a table worthy for a page in Country Living magazine. Thank you Poland!