Take a pause to look at the cause

January 12, 2021

Happy Tuesday! After reaching a breaking point with depressing posts on Facebook, I have decided to take a break from it for a while.  I could not stomach one more ignorant post. I took the advice of a friend who is a young mother and watched the Netflix documentary Social Dilemma.  I highly recommend it to anyone who spends time on any social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, TikTok, etc. It is a must-watch for parents and grandparents, but is important to see for anyone who feels they spend more time than they should on social media.  I was becoming increasingly depressed, and realized I had become addicted to Facebook, which is the nature of the beast.  I decided to take a break and return to my simpler life.  Since the Covid pandemic is in a post-holiday upsurge, now seems like a good time to retreat from the online negativity and focus on more positive things.

In doing so, I will have more time for:

  1. Writing my poems – My poetry is influenced greatly by my mood. I have  been wasting time and creative energy that could be better spent. One of my favorite quotes: “Every 60 you spend on anything is a minute of your life you’ve given away. Pretty simple, yet profound. I’m not sure who originally said this or I’d give them credit.
  2. Creating art – I would like to hone my skills in a variety of mediums as I continue along my creative journey.
  3. Having (masked) face-to-face conversations (as opposed to using Facebook to communicate) – I still feel it is imperative that we are careful during the recent virus uptick, but will happily converse face-to-face outdoors at a safe distance.
  4.  Writing good old-fashioned letters – This has been on my New Year’s resolution list for several years in a row. There is no time like the present to brighten someone’s day with a letter in the mail.
  5. Doing my Swedish death cleaning – I don’t want our kids to hate us for getting stuck with having to deal with all of the stuff we have accumulated over the past 38 1/2 years when we kick the bucket. Time to sort, pitch, and donate.

Please watch Social Dilemma. Take a pause to look at the cause of what is happening in our world. And here is one last thought for today:

“If you look around the side, group, or cause that you support and there are any Confederate or Nazi flags/symbols…you are on the wrong side of history.” You should know this. Turn around. Also, silence is complicity.

With that being said. I am off to my tasks of the day. I hope the sun shines on you and we get some happy news today. Peace.


To the mothers of others

Every year on this weekend in May we celebrate Mothers Day – a glorious day that I look forward to each year. The definition of Mothers Day according to wikipedia (which I value and use more then any other reference): a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May.

To many people the common meaning of “mother” is a woman who has given birth to, or who has raised, children. Having done both myself, I understand the challenges, the physical, and sometimes emotional, pain involved in both, and I appreciate the special treatment on this day each year. However, I believe there are a large number of women who do not always get the recognition due them for their mothering – those being the mothers of others.

There are countless women who, by my definition, are definitely mothers but are not always recognized as such. These women are the mothers of others. I can think of many of my own friends and family who have not actually given birth, but who definitely qualify as mothers. They are mothers through their nurturing, their kindness, unselfish giving of time, guidance, cooking, sewing, financial assistance, listening ears, open hearts and arms, etc.

I can think of numerous women who are there at the drop of a hat for their “children”, young or grown, in sickness and in health, who give, not expecting anything in return, simply because they love “mothering”. We all know women who feed other women’s children, clothe them, offer them money, shelter, or guidance.

We all know teachers, aunts, or friends who have filled in as the mothers of younger friends whose mothers are far away or who have lost their mothers. A personal example of this is my dear friend Carol who has taken it upon herself to fill in for my mom as she has slipped further away into the hold of Alzheimers. The daily calls I use to get from my mom I now get from Carol. She has added me to her flock and treats me as one of her own, as has my own dear mother-in-law. To both these women I am forever grateful.

Thinking of my own sweet mom, I remember how she was often the mother of others, feeding anyone who ventured into her kitchen. I remember the chest of drawers in our hallway that was full of hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves that she would offer to neighborhood children on cold winter days if they stopped by with a bare head or hands. She was always there to listen, offer a hug, a couple of bucks, and always had a well-stocked fridge and cupboards, ready to soothe any grumbling tummy.

Mothers Day for me shall always be for ALL women because an innate part of who we are by gender (and that being by birth or by choice) is being a mother, a naturally nurturing loving soul. So today, and every day, Happy Mothers Day to all women, and most especially to the mothers of others.

Old Man River

Old Man River, at least the Illinois River, has delivered one long wet kiss to the Peoria riverfront the past month. It has been an extremely wet summer for the state of Illinois. Our friends in California would probably be glad to trade places with us. Having lived through flood clean-up at our home in the past and many sleepless nights wondering if the flood waters would breach the sandbags two years ago, and then again this summer, I am ready for a break from the rain and rising water, as are most people in our neck of the woods.

The rain, rising waters, heat, and humidity has not squelched the Central Illinois spirit, nor the Peoria riverfront activities, though. The businesses are in full swing thanks to the efforts and many hours of hard work by our city workers. As a small business owner, I cannot tell you how comforting it has been to have felt the city’s protective arms helping to keep the flood waters at bay. The sandbags and temporary seawall have held and the pumps have kept the water from reaching the riverfront businesses. Quick action by the city administration and Public Works workers, Peoria Park District, Riverfront Association, along with probably many others I am unaware of, has allowed the continuation of Peoria’s busy festival season.

The Riverfront Farmers’ Market has smoothly transitioned to new locations. Friday Happy Art sessions have continued to happen at The Hive. Live at the Five Spot bands have entertained music lover each Friday. CAC exhibits have dazzled us. Running Central races have gone off without a hitch. Steamboat Days was in full swing, with its many activities. And, the many riverfront restaurants have been busy as people have ventured down, in many cases, to see how high the waters have risen.

So, who knows, maybe the river’s kiss has been a bit of a blessing in disguise. But, with that being said, and looking at the forecast for the next few days, here’s to hoping the sun gives us a sweet peck on the cheek soon.

The art of being easily entertained

This morning while I was mulling over art projects to start my husband asked me if I would put the load of washed clothes in the dryer when I went downstairs. No problem. Then I saw the real reason he asked me to switch loads when I went to the basement – a dryer full of whites. My art project would have to wait.

Have you ever counted the items in a load of whites. Well, I had not until today. Took me 56 years to realize why everyone dreads folding white loads…they take forever! Any guesses as to how many pieces were in that load? Count a full load of whites ( when you aren’t washing big things like sheets). If you have tiny humans living with you, you may want to wait a few years before doing this, like maybe eighteen or so.

The odd thing about doing laundry, at least for me, is that sometimes, even though I initially grumble, I end up getting totally in the zone when I am doing it. It becomes a Zen-like activity with a certain rhythm to it. I make my neat little stacks – have my certain way of folding particular pieces. Yes, I realize this sounds really weird, but there really are times that I actually end up enjoying the process. Not so crazy about the carrying-to-different-rooms-and-putting-away part of it, but the sorting and folding can can be relaxing.

Another way to look at a dreaded task – think of it from the gratefulness angle. With laundry, be grateful that you have those items to fold, that you have a washer and a dryer. That you don’t have to do it in a polluted stream, then drape them on a tree or fence to dry. Be happy that you have two arms, two hands at the ends of those arms. Not everyone is so fortunate.

I believe this mindset could apply to many tasks that otherwise seem like drudgery. Put a new spin on them. Make a game of it. Although cleaning toilets or scrubbing floors…hmmm. If you come up with a new spin for those, please let me know.

Guess I will go see if that other load still needs to be folded. Maybe I will try to do one of those cool little folded flower tricks you see with washcloths in hotel rooms or napkins in restaurants. Then, when I am finished I will reward myself with getting to start one of the projects I was thinking about this morning.

Ah, the art of being easily entertained…


Wonderful winter night on Water St.

I absolutely love Friday nights at the studio! Honestly, I am at complete peace whenever I am in my creative space, but there is something about the element of surprise – not knowing for sure who will walk through the door – that adds a bit of excitement to the evening. Last night did not disappoint me.


As the evening began I was pretty certain I would end up painting alone, rather than the usual assisting of others, due to the forecast of falling snow throughout the evening. A couple of groups had to cancel already. I would prefer my artist friends postpone their visit and stay home rather than risk the icy back roads, as some travel quite a distance to attend our Friday Happy Art sessions. They will be back soon, I know, so it gives me something to look forward to.


Imagine my surprise when my new friend Kaci came in with her mom Mari, along with Aunt Chris, and Nana Eileen, who are visiting from Montana. What a lovely early Christmas gift! They included Happy Art at The Hive in their girls’ night out.


The studio came to life again as the band Cousin Eddie started playing  upstairs at Live at the Five Spot and the ladies started painting. By the end of the evening I had three new friends and am already looking forward to their return visit. Eileen and I have plans to do some encaustic painting when she comes back this spring.


I have been doing a lot of grumbling about winter weather lately, but after our wonderful winter night on Water Street, I welcome it. Next Saturday is the winter solstice.  Looking forward to my “Welcome Winter” painting class! 🙂


Catch up time! Cold winter days are a good time to reflect. As I have been putting up my holiday decorations at the studio and at home I have been thinking about the many people locally who are not so fortunate this year. My niece is among many whose home was hit by the November 17th tornado and I know many others who have been displaced because of the destruction. To lose so much so quickly is mind-numbing.

The silver lining to this whirling cloud of destruction has been how the community and volunteers from near and far (many complete strangers) have pulled together to salvage what could be salvaged and clean up the tons of debris. If there’re is to be any good to come from this heart-breaking disaster, it is that the good in our fellow man shone through so brightly.

Just as other news fades, this will too, but it will remain fresh for those who lived through it until new homes are built or extensive repairs are made. We can all recall life-changing events, but time, and a return to normalcy will heal.

When I think back to April and the flood that closed the studio, I saw the same kind of community support. Sand-bagging with friends, family, and complete strangers was, in a strange way, a joyful experience. We were fortunate. The sandbags held the water back. Once again, however, thousands of others around the area received much damage. Many lost family treasures, and irreplaceables in their basements.

You learn what is truly important. Lives are what counts, not things.

Wow! Haven’t blogged forever! Waaaaay overdue! We survived the flood. Strange as it may seem, sand-bagging was a tremendously joyful experience! Talk about a community coming together! WE feel fortunate to have not incurred any damage from the flood.  Wish we could say the same for hundreds of others in the area. April was a rough month weather-wise in central Illinois.

I finished my 30th year of teaching in the public school system – 24 years at EPCHS – and retired to fulfill my passion of teaching awareness art full time. I will miss my colleagues and students, but it was time to write a new chapter. Being my own boss will allow for a more flexible schedule – time to spend with our grand-daughter and to get away for a few days.

Speaking of getting away, we just returned from a whirlwind weekend in Milwaukee and Chicago.  Visited our favorite part of MKE, the Third Ward, for Gallery Night. Started the evening out with a visit to Splash Studio Bar – a outrageously fun painting bar next to Retique, one of my favorite haunts.I highly recommend a stop at Splash to paint & have a drink.  David, the owner, is a very friendly fun guy.

Visited several wonderful galleries. Can’t pick a favorite – all are so unique. Had a nice visit with artist Timothy Meyerring at his place, Timo Gallery on Buffalo St., just down the street from our son Ricky’s old place. Timothy invited us into his adjoining studio – an awesome treat! He explained his work with encaustic painting. Wish Ellie had been along to see his work, as well as the many other interesting pieces we saw Friday and Saturday. Ellie and her dad will be offering a class on encaustic painting and bee-keeping later in the fall at The Hive. Timothy has a piece hanging in the White House. HIs gallery is a must see if you find yourself in the Third Ward.

Sunday took us to Chicago to see our son Randy and celebrate our daughter Tricia’s 30th birthday at The Tavern on Rush. Two fantastic inspiring cities!! Never enough time to see everything. Can’t wait to get back into the studio and start pieces I’ve been mulling over for awhile.

Anxious to show off the work of artists Barbara Armstrong, Kyle Anderson & Carly Todd at our First Friday exhibit & Happy Art session this Friday – August 2nd. If you are in the area, please make a point to stop in to say hello.


Everyone had a great time honing their architectural drawing skills last night at our class led by Ricky. Two point perspective seemed to be the most challenging skill of the evening. We all had fun with our individual drawings. Very interesting to see how the shading differed, as well as the depth of color. Looking forward to sitting in on Ricky’s April class on watercolor.

Had fun at Happy Art with family, old friends, and work friends. I love ending my work week at the studio chatting with friends and seeing the cool pieces they create.  Debbie painted a sign for her grandson Aiden’s bedroom.  Whit began a cute painting of BB for their gallery wall and Ricky continued his series he started two weeks ago.  Jon Andrew and Jon Davison both began interesting pieces they are going to finish later. It was great to see our old friend Keith.  Our grand-daughter Austy enjoyed all the people and the attention. 🙂


EPCHS students visited The Hive today with teachers Ellie Herget and Kristina Davison. They did an art activity with Ricky as part of their gallery hop. He explained his reuse projects to the kids and really enjoyed working with such a polite and focused group.  I hope they come back and visit our studio again soon. What a talented bunch of young people! Check out more photos on our Facebook page.

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