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Roberta watching the snow fall on Madison Park 2-23-2014Roberta watching the snow fall on Madison Square Park, NYC – watercolor on 10″ x 12″1/2″ 140# Arches coldpress

I am petrified that I am starting to have short-term memory loss.  Or the beginnings of dementia.  I can’t remember anything anymore.  Ask me what I did yesterday.  Who knows.   What’s that person’s name?  Not a clue.  It’s frustrating. Words are on the tip of my tongue and then I forget them or what I was going to say.

I just read in AARP magazine about a test for dementia. (Why do they continue to send me this magazine?  I’ve already told them I am too young for it.) AARP magazine could NOT be more depressing. It’s dedicated to stories on how to watch out for scams on older people.  How to make sure that you have enough money after retirement so you’re not eating cat food.  Tests to see how long you’ll live.  And, of course, tests for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Which brings me to my point. (Yes, not only did I have one but I remembered what it was since the first paragraph of this post!) Two friends and I went to see a Broadway musical (which we all hated). Since it was Valentine’s day week, I got them small little heart-shaped boxes of Russell Stover chocolates.  As we were seated I reached down and handed them the boxes saying “Happy Thanksgiving!”  They stared at me.  Then we all laughed.  But still.

In this month’s AARP magazine there was a test for Alzheimer’s involving peanut butter. If you could smell peanut butter with your right nostril but not your left (or vice versa I don’t remember), you may have early stages of the disease.  I can tell you for sure my dog does not have it.  You can open a jar of peanut butter 3 blocks away and she’ll smell it.

On another note, which has nothing to do with peanut butter or tests for dementia, I will give you the best review of the musical we all hated by my friend Josh who saw it a week after we did.  He said, and I quote:

“The first act was awful.

The second act was better because I was at Starbucks.”

The above painting was done using a reference photo from my friend Judy who recently rescued and adopted two kittens, Audrey and Roberta.  They have their own Facebook page. They are adorable. And, they are now part of a big happy family which also includes Madison the cat and Benny the dog.   Hope you like the painting  Judalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Lest you think I’ve been hiding in my apartment wishing this winter would end without doing any painting, you’d be partially right.  I have a very bad case of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder).  Although like most things, I’m doing nothing about it but complaining.  And painting.

I finished a number of paintings:

Frankee 2-9-2014My cousin’s puppy Frankee the coonhound – watercolor on 140# Arches coldpress  

Then I completed this painting:

Greenpoint cityscape 2-9-2014Greenpoint, Brooklyn on a cloudy day – watercolor on 140# Arches coldpress

And finally I finished this painting:

Prospect Park Lake WIP 2-9-2014 completedProspect Park Lake on New Year’s Day 2014 – watercolor on 140# Arches coldpress

The Olympics are on TV seemingly everywhere, all the time, non-stop.  Instead I’m watching a TV show about how the Beatles changed America.  Their  first American televised live performance was on the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night, February 9, 1964.  Fifty years ago today.  Remember?

In case you don’t remember, they sang:

  • “All My Loving”
  • “Till There Was You”
  • “She Loves You”
  • “I Saw Her Standing There”
  • “I Want to Hold Your Hand”

P.Park Lake WIP 1-12-2014Prospect Park Lake Work in Progress – on 1/4 sheet 140# Arches coldpress

Today was the 13th annual no pants subway ride.  Why would anyone want to ride the subway without wearing pants?  I have absolutely no idea.   I have seen unspeakably disgusting things happen on the subway and quite frankly I really wonder why we all aren’t riding the subways in HazMat suits.   My dog walking buddy who moved to Maine, Charlie, wouldn’t even sit on the subway even if he had an opportunity to sit, nor would he hold on to the poles. Obviously he was very good at balancing and would stand the whole way back and forth to work.  I will always grab a seat if I get one, but I make sure that any body part that is touching any part of the subway is fully covered.   I am not a germophobe by any means and fully believe that kids need to get a little dirty when playing outside and don’t need to be purelled every five minutes.  Based on my vast medical experience I believe this is why most people of my generation have few allergies and the young kids today are allergic to everything.  On second thought, maybe all the young’uns should go for a no pants subway ride to increase their ability to fight off  allergies and build up immunities.

You’re welcome.

The polar vortex arrived in NYC last week.  It was in the 50’s in the morning and the next morning it was 6 degrees.  Now I’m not complaining because I know it was brutally cold and snowing in other parts of the country.  The Husband wonders if nine months from now there will be kids being named “Vortex”.

The painting above is the start of a lake-side scene in Prospect Park.  I’m trying some new colors that I don’t normally use.   I’ll keep you posted.

Pulitzer fountain - urban sketcheing 9-28-2013Pulitzer Statue, NYC

I started Saturday meeting the NYC Urban Sketchers at the Pulitzer Fountain which is in front of the Plaza Hotel and Central Park.  We then moved to the entrance of the Central Park Zoo.  We didn’t go in, but sat on some benches and sketched there.  I left shortly after that to meet Jana Bouc, a fellow blogger who I only know from blogland.  She was visiting NYC with her friend Micaela Marsden another artist and urban sketcher. We met by the Conservatory Water (which I erroneously told her was called Conservatory Pond.)  Jana is as Northern Californian as I am a New Yorker.  Tall, lithe and lovely we had a wonderful time.

After chatting, sketching, and wandering the park, Jana, Micaela and I got on the subway to go downtown.  They wanted to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. 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?  His reply?  He sold da ganja.

Yep,  He sold marijuana.

Weed, Mary Jane, Waccy tobaccy. Chronic.  Grass.   He has a daughter that’s with her mother now, but he may try and get her back.  He also asked Jana what month she was born in.  She told him and he said that 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.

I CANNOT tell you how amused I was and Jana, I hope you don’t mind me telling that story.  I had a great time with you and Micaela and hope you visit again soon.

Here’s an article about that New York accent:  “In a really good New York conversation more than one person is talking a lot of the time”http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/newyorkcity/

Carroll Street Bridge 9-8-2013Carroll Street Bridge – Work in Progress

EXIT STRATEGY: A PLAY IN ONE ACT

This is dedicated to my brother who does not read my blog.

The players:
Rob, my brother.
Steve, my very successful cousin who started a business then, planning his exit strategy early, sold it for a bazillion dollars.
Ryan, my nephew who started a business a few years ago and has been very successful to date.
The Scene:  
In a living room at a party.  The three characters are standing around talking.
Rob just reached his 20th anniversary with GE.
Steve to Ryan:
How’s the business going?
Ryan:
I’m doing very well.  My business is growing
Steve:
Good for you. What’s your exit strategy?
Ryan:
I’m not sure yet.
Steve:
You have to start thinking about that now.
Steve:
Hey Rob,  what have you been doing?
Rob:
I’ve worked for the same company for 20 years.
Steve:
Oh????
Rob:
Yeah…. My exit strategy is death

The End

I started this watercolor to celebrate the reopening of the Carroll Street Bridge, one of only two retractable bridges in NYC.  The other being the Borden Avenue Bridge in Queens.  It was built in 1889 and from the NYTimes:  ‘This relic of the late 19th century, which today connects Carroll Gardens with Park Slope, is not just one of the oldest of New York City’s 25 movable bridges, but also one of its quirkiest. As in a quaint New England covered bridge, its deck is made of thick boards, making it the city’s only wooden bridge that carries cars. The approaches are lined with cobblestones, many of them laid in 1889 when the bridge opened. It even features an old sign that warns: “Any Person Driving over this Bridge Faster than a Walk will be Subject to a Penalty of Five Dollars For Each Offence.” ‘  If you’re interested in bridges, you can read about it here.

watertower on masa 7-27-13Carroll Street water tower – 101/2 ” by 14″ – watercolor on Masa Paper

June was one of the wettest on record here in NYC.  I think it rained every day.  July was one of the hottest with temps in the 90’s and with the humidity making it feel like it’s in the 100’s.  And don’t even get me started on what it feels like down on the subway platforms.   I feel like I’ve been damp (a nicer word than sweaty) for two months.  Apparently you can’t use the word moist since a study showed that people HATE that word.  I never had a problem with moist especially when it’s paired with the word “cake”.

Well, I guess I’m mad for masa now.   I so enjoyed the first one I did here that I immediately started a second one.

Watertower on masa first wash 7-27-13

Here’s what it looked like after I toned the masa paper, drew the image and laid down the first washes.

I’ve already got another piece toned and ready to go.   Using the masa paper and toning it first is allowing me to be freer with colors.  Once the paper is toned you now must work with the toned paper and sometimes colors aren’t where you’d expect them to be since you are toning the back of the paper.

Speaking of colors, did you know that the definition of vermillion is?

a strong red that is deeper than geranium, yellower and deeper than geranium red, and bluer and deeper than average cherry red

How did I know that?  I was looking something up on the merriam-webster on-line dictionary and came across 10 definitions of colors. http://www.merriam-webster.com/top-ten-lists/top-10-words-for-unusual-colors/vermilion.html Now really, would you describe vermillion that way?   It almost sucks the life out of the color!

And for no reason, here’s a picture of my dog.

Kaiya 7-27-13And finally, why is the spacing all screwed up my my posts?   I have paragraph spacing, but when I post it all bunches up.  Ugh!  Anyone have any suggestions on how to fix it?

Parking lot – WIP on 1/2 sheet of 140 # Arches cold press

I started this in the style of Tim Saternow whose workshop I took back in March of this year.   I started with a grisaille  (monochromatic painting in Paynes Gray) which is here:

There is still more work to do. I jumped ahead many steps too fast so this may end up in the “it was a good idea at the time” pile.  But all is not lost as I did learn what not to do.  Which often is as important as what to do.

I saw Rhonda was working on a portrait all in paynes gray which was pretty cool and you can see it here.

The image above is where we park our car.  Which is about 3 blocks from where we live.  And don’t even ask what we pay for that spot in an outdoor lot 3 blocks away, BUT, it is SO worth it when you come home and have to drive around the block for 45 minutes before something opens up.   The Husband says it’s almost time to move.  But WHERE?   Any suggestions?

Is anyone else sick of the Olympics?  Damn overachievers.

Greenwich Street Garbage WIP 1/2 sheet 140 lb Arches Cold Press

Where does the time go?  This is a work in progress painting of the garbage piling up on Greenwich Street after one of the blizzards last winter.  Not this winter.  This winter we had spring.  Not that I’m complaining.  I’m sure I will start complaining this summer when it’s hotter than the fires of Hades and I’m in the subway.  But that’s for another post.

I would like to discuss living outside of NYC.  The husband is making noises along those lines.  And I am sad to report that my dog-walking buddy Charlie and his wife Liz are moving to Maine.   Far, far up in Maine.  I keep asking “what will you do up there?”   I don’t get a straight answer. They don’t seem to have any worries.  Of course I have plenty.

Did you know there are 8.3 million people in NYC and only 1.3 million in the whole state of Maine.   There are only 303 square miles in the NYC (all 5 boroughs!), compared to 35,000 square miles in the state of Maine.   That’s plenty of space for the boogy man or the ax murderer to hide.  And what about moose and bears? I’m torn between being bombarded with “interaction fatigue” from so many people in NYC and not liking wide open spaces with no one around.

I remember one time when the husband and I stayed at my sister’s house in Putnam County which is about 1 & 1/2 hours from my apartment.  I consider that the country, though I’m sure anyone else would consider it a suburb.  Anyway,  the Husband and I went to bed and  had the windows open.   It was a lovely cool night.  Until the noise started.  The husband was asleep as soon as his head it the pillow, but I was kept awake by all these spooky sounds.   Frogs, crickets, ax murderers, who knows.  It was loud.  I nudged the Husband and asked him “what’s that noise?”  No answer.  I nudged him again…”What Is That Noise?”   Snore.  A third time “Matt, what is that noise?”   Annoyed he finally turned over, looked at me and yelled “IT’S NAYCHA”.

I do not like “Naycha.”

Maybe Charlie is a secret doomsday prepper and that’s why he’s moving to Maine?   I wonder if he’s waiting for the end of the world as predicted by the Mayans or the super Yellowstone volcano to finally blow?   I’m staying here. Garbage doesn’t scare me as much as Naycha.


Art Glass plate

I was able to leave work early today, ran down the subway and amazingly got a seat.  We had gone one stop when the conductor announced that there were extreme delays due to “police action” at Atlantic Ave. Oy. I get a bit claustrophobic sitting in a subway that’s not going anywhere so I left the subway and had a LOVELY walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

As usual, the City is filled with tourists.   And after I noticed that, I further noticed that tourists are tourists no matter where they are.  They stop, they stare, they speak in funny languages and you know what,  they got me to appreciate the City that I live in.  Perhaps I would never have stopped to look at skyline of lower Manhattan or the sun glistening on the East River. But I did.  And it was good.  Perhaps somewhere there is a Croatian stopping to look at Diocletian’s Palace in Split with a new eye.

The “new age” portion of the blog has now ended.

Here’s 3 Broadway musicals I have seen recently.  I reviewed three here.  Now here’s 3 more.  Take note if you’re coming to NY and want to catch a show.

1.  Sister Act – a fun feel-good musical that will have you singing along and tapping your toes.  The story is essentially the same as the movie, but the music is different.  Wimples, stained glass, a giant statue of Mary and lots and lots of sparkle and glitter make this show fun for the whole family.   I probably would NOT pay full price for this, but if you can get 1/2 price or discount tickets, I would recommend it.

2.  Spiderman –  This show, to put it bluntly, SUCKED.   Do not waste your time or your money.  That’s 3 hours I will never get back.  My show-going pal Kung (who sees everything on Broadway and off-Broadway) and I actually discussed whether or not we should leave at intermission.  We decided to stay in case “something happened” and indeed it did. Spidey missed a connection whilst flying over the audience and was left hanging there.  A disembodied voice told us there were technical difficulties, the  actors singing on stage just walked off and the stagehands had to come, unclip Spidey and reset the whole gizmo flying thing.  I’m sorry, but when people are paying over $100 per ticket (not me, but that’s what they go for) I expect a professional performance.  The whole rest of it sucked too.  SKIP SPIDERMAN!

3.  The Book of Mormon -  The hottest ticket on Broadway.  I laughed, I cried and I ran out and bought secret underwear.  It was completely rude, crude, vulgar and absolutely fabulous.  Ben Brantley said it way better than I:  http://theater.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/theater/reviews/the-book-of-mormon-at-eugene-oneill-theater-review.html    DO NOT BRING THE KIDS!   And if you are sensitive to foul language & obscene gestures this may not be the show for you.  But it most certainly was the show for me.  LOVED IT!

This concludes the public service portion of this post.

The piece above was another plate in a series I did.   I am currently working on more coasters like the ones I did here.  I really do enjoy making these although they are extremely time-consuming.

I’ll end with a few pictures from Croatia.  (The Husband took close to 900 photos and I took over 1,000.  We are still sorting through them!)

Garlic and Peppers in the Market

The walled “Old Town” of Dubrovnik

Plitvice Lakes

The crystal clear blue water of the Adriatic!

 City Hall Park – watercolor on 140# Arches Cold Press  approx. 19″ x 14″

A Bayonne, NJ hospital now has billboards that advertise the wait time for being seen in their emergency room.  When I saw the story on the news the billboard said the wait time was 7 minutes.  After I laughed so hard I had to be rushed to my local emergency room, I came home 3 days later and thought   “Why can’t anyone in NYC be seen in any sort of reasonable time in an emergency room?”

Here is a true story:  One time, a New York City Police Officer who will not be named, had a drug-addict prisoner who needed attention and was taken to a NYC Emergency room.  While waiting,  a man came in, slit from ear to ear and bleeding heavily.  He was given a large amount of gauze and told to press it against his neck and wait.  Why?  Three gun shot-victims were on their way in and they were going to be seen first.

So, if you have any bones broken, need stitches in an area that is not life threatening or are coughing up a lung be prepared to sit for at least 5 hours.   You may also be entertained for 5 hours, but that really is a sort of specialized area of entertainment.   Best to drive to N.J. and be seen there.  Sad state of affairs indeed.

This has nothing to do with the painting above, which is of City Hall Park.  This is a beautiful little oasis in lower Manhattan and is aptly named because it is right in front of City Hall.   In the spring there are cherry blossom trees and tulips.  Once the summer arrives there is a lovely fountain which is seen on the left side of the painting.  In the fall the fountain is shut down and beautiful fall colored plants fill the space.  It’s a wonderful spot to sit, relax, people watch and take a moment in a very busy City.  Just don’t hurt yourself there.  You’ll spend hours and hours at the local emergency room.  Word!

This week both Passover and Easter occur during the same week.  So whichever holiday you celebrate, may it be a happy one.  And if you don’t celebrate either of these holidays, may you have a wonderful week.

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