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View from I 240
View from I 240-Watercolor on 300 # Arches cold press approx 15″ x 22″

Why are emojis so damn small? People text me with emojis all the time and I have no idea what they are sending.  I need to know if someone is sending me a picture of a dog, a monkey, or a martini?

TEXTER:  Want to come over?  I’m doing the laundry *martini emoji*

ME:  Nah, I’ll pass (thinking “that sounds really boring.”)

However, If there were martinis involved with said laundry, I might rush right over to help!

I was pondering this emoji issue last week when comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert discussed this same problem.  He couldn’t distinguish between the “crying” emoji and the “laughing so hard you are crying” emoji.  He accidentally sent the latter when a friend’s pet died which caused some problems. I’m just gonna stick to the old fashioned colon dash parenthesis  : -) face so as not to screw things up.

I’m also working on a new Mac computer after years of working on PCs.  Insert very frustrated emoji face here.

And I’m still getting used to this new place.   Sometimes I feel like this:

Green Acres  But I never lived on Park Avenue with a penthouse view.

Insert sad emoji here.

The above painting is a view of one of the buildings in Asheville glimpsed while driving by on Interstate 240.









 Watercolor cards of coffee and a doughnut – 140 #arches coldpress scraps glued to a pre-made card 

Every morning I stop by my local coffee cart run by John and Mohammed, immigrants from Afghanistan who run this cart like a well oiled machine.  John sees me coming down the street from the subway and if there are no other customers he immediately prepares my coffee.  I told him once what I wanted and I never had to tell him again.

Sometimes Mohammed has to sit in the van until alternate-side-of-the-street parking goes off at 8:00 am.  But if he’s in the cart too then the coffee and doughnut serving ballet really begins.  John gets the coffee, Mohammed bags it with the requisite baked good that the person ordered, takes the money and makes change while John is on to the next customer.   If only the City could run that smoothly.

For a while I tried not to get a doughnut with my coffee, but either John or Mohammed would put it in the bag anyway.  One day they ran out of chocolate frosted so they gave me a whole wheat.  I eventually gave up fighting with them and just accepted the whole wheat doughnut with my coffee.  Hey, it’s whole wheat. Ergo, it must be healthy.

Tomorrow, April 1st will be my last day of work.  I will have retired. And it’s not an April Fool’s joke even though some people in my office may think it is.  It’s a very strange feeling.  Clearly, I’m happy about it, but my daily routine, starting with John and Mohammed will now be over.  I’ll have to create new routines.  Unless of course I decide to take the subway every morning to get coffee from John and Mohammed’s cart, chat with them, and then come home.  Yes, I will miss these guys.  But that would just be silly.


Flower for Gabriella 9-7-2014


Gayle's flowers 9-7-2014

Roses card 9-7-2014


Why do greeting cards cost so much?   Why?   It’s a piece of paper with something printed on it.   I love the cards at Papyrus with their glitter and sparkles and hand made things glued on top of other things.  Then I think to myself, I can glue things to other things.   After 3 hours of cutting and gluing I think, I could have just paid $4.99 for a card and be done with it and gotten my 3 hours back.   And then what if you need like 4 cards all at once. Then you have to decide if you are going to buy lunch or buy cards!

I wanted to send some cards to friends who had done some very nice things for me.  So I painted them.  No gluing, no sparkles, but at least they were hand made and I hope they liked them.   Someday, when I am no longer working full time for the man, I will stay home and glue things to other things and maybe have my own card collection.  When I was in college my friend Jim and I always dreamed that we would have our own card/stationery/disco store.  (Hey, we dreamt big in those days.)  If I had a job where I could cut things out and glue them to other things, I would love it.  Yes, I know it’s called kindergarten, but hey…I’m young at heart.

On another note, I had to fly recently.  I am not a fan of flying.  I don’t like it for many reasons.  The claustrophobia, the cattle-car experience, the seats that get narrower and narrower while Americans get wider and wider, the nickel and diming of the airlines who now make us pay to check a bag (how am I supposed to fly somewhere and stay for more than a day without clean clothes?) and the fact that now you can’t bring anything with you through airport security so that bottle of water you could buy on the street for a dollar is now $10,000 in the airport store.   So when I read this article I thought to myself:

1.   I want to fly like that!

2.  When the revolution comes, the people that fly like that will be the first to go!!!


“Feet are never clean” is one of the gems my mother shared with me one day.  We were talking about making wine in the old days and stomping grapes with one’s feet.   Mom made a face, told me feet are never clean and went on to discuss the “pieces of flesh” that would come off those dirty feet whilst stomping on said grapes.  Which is why I will never accept home-made wine from anyone.   This was only one of the pearls of wisdom mom shared with me that scarred me for life. She also told me that when a plane lands and the pilot reverses the engines the plane could explode.

right foot left shoe 7-8-2014 drawing class

Imagine my dismay when I went to a drawing class and was told we were going to draw our foot and our shoe.   While a fun exercise which also involved dealing with foreshortening of the leg and making sure the foot looked like it would actually fit in the shoe, I had to see everyone else’s dirty feet.  (Mine, of course, were clean.) We toned the paper with compressed charcoal to a mid-tone.  We then drew lightly with either compressed charcoal or charcoal pencil until we got the shapes right.  At that point we went a little darker and the fun part was picking out the highlights with our kneaded eraser.   Drawing on a toned piece of paper was great fun.   Looking at everyone else’s stinky feet, not so much.

Which brings me to another topic.  Have you noticed that suddenly all these hipsters think it’s ok to take off their shoes in a restaurant or cafe and put their dirty feet on the seat next to them?  Where were these kids raised?   Take your dirty, smelly foot off that chair and put it back in your shoe where it belongs.

And finally, as the Husband gets closer to retirement from the NYPD he wants to drag my a$$ across the country.  Originally it was either New Mexico or Colorado.  Until we got this list yesterday:


Many people are aware of the friendly tax states for the NYC retiree, but what about the unfriendly tax states.

Very favorable tax states for NYC retirees:

  1. Alaska
  2. Florida
  3. Nevada
  4. New Hampshire (tax on interest and dividends)
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. South Dakota
  7. Tennessee
  8. Texas
  9. Washington
  10. Wyoming

Top 12 unfavorable income tax states for NYC retirees based on taxation of pension, retirement plans (IRAs, 457, etc.) and Social Security; as of 2014:

  1. Colorado
  2. Connecticut
  3. Kansas
  4. Minnesota
  5. Montana
  6. Nebraska
  7. New Mexico
  8. North Dakota
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Utah
  11. Vermont
  12. West Virginia

Ruh Roh.  I guess we may have to rethink our plans.  (Staying in NYC is fine with me).   My mom did give my sister one good pearl of wisdom when The Sister got a really good job…in Alaska!   She (The Sister) was nervous about moving so far away, but Mom told her “Alice, Planes fly in both directions.” Wow!  It helped The Sister make the move and it will help me make our move (someday) too.

I miss my mommy.

I have no painting or drawing to show today.  It is because I suck. I’ve been working on a cityscape for a few weeks and I finally realized today it needs to go in the trash. I told the Husband I was going to quit painting. He responded “yeah, you suck”.   “Stop painting.”  I hate when he agrees with me. (He has a PhD in sarcasm so I knew not to take him seriously.)

View from the roof 1

It is the end of the 4th of July 3-day weekend. I was lucky enough to get to go up to my friend’s roof for the Macy’s fireworks. She lives in Brooklyn Heights and since the fireworks were moved back to the East River we had an amazing, unobstructed view.

I was feeling patriotic so I wore my red shoes with my stars and stripes socks:

patriotic footwear


Finally the sky got dark and the lights of the City shone brightly and the fireworks began.  It was a spectacular show.

Night view

And the rockets red glare

And for no reason, here is a woman walking her chickens.  On leashes.  I wonder if this qualifies them to be “free range”? How can you not love NY?

Women walking her chickens on leases





Two hands blind contour

One hand blind contour Thumbs up - blind contour

Blind contour portrait


Every summer in June there is some sort of perfume -y smell that comes off the trees.  It is delightful.  I have no idea what tree it’s from, but it makes me happy every June.   And then July and August roll around and the City just stinks. From people, from trash, from cooking.  All those smells congeal,  bounce off the simmering sidewalks and melt into the humidity to create a miasma of Stinky Summer City Smell.  And don’t even get me started about the smell in the subways in the summer.

To emote how I feel about summer in the City, I found this handy, dandy guide about how to properly act tragic emotions on stage here.


I’m taking a basic drawing class locally with a friend.  We started by doing some blind contour drawing which Leslie White always teaches in her classes too.  If you don’t know what it is, here’s a description.  I did some of my hand and then a quick portrait of the young guy sitting across from me.  Blind contour drawings are great fun.  I should have tried a blind contour drawing of my hand holding my nose.

mi amigo 6-2014Watercolor on 140 # Arches coldpress 1/4 sheet

I got to use my figures technique from the Art Students League classes by painting this man without drawing first.  I first drew the shape of the man in one color similar to the technique I learned at the ASL like the ones here:  After the shape was right I was able to go back in and work on details.

I had to redraw his face a few times, but I must say my classes really helped improve my figure drawing.   Now that’s it’s dry I’m going to go back in and darken the area behind his back to create a shadow.

Clearly he’s tired and needed a rest from schlepping those bags.   I, too, need a rest…from all those Facebook quizzes.  Or maybe I don’t since I’m still taking them.  Let’s review: My number is “7”, I’m Water, I’m a polar bear, I should live in Amsterdam, Paris, or Barcelona depending on how many times I took that particular quiz.    I could go on and on.  In fact, I think I will…(sorry Bill Bryson.)

Some of my favorite quizzes aren’t about one’s personality.  Some of the more fun ones are “Who said that, the Pope or Lord Voldemort?”  Or: “Is it cheese or a piece of IKEA furniture?”

Sigh,  I would get so much more done if I wasn’t so curious about what home I should live in, what flower I am, or which Game of Thrones house I should belong to.   Here’s an article from the NYPost which talks about why these quizzes are so popular.  It’s interesting, but I never read anything in the Post without a grain (or whole salt shaker’s worth) of salt.

Sadly, I also know that these quizzes are data mining…trying to find out as much as possible about me so they can then sell me stuff.  It’s creepy…like the way I send an email to someone and mention oh, I don’t know, my painting and suddenly my gmail sidebar is filled with ads for watercolor paint and supplies.  Big brother is always watching.

I bet this guy in the painting doesn’t own a computer or is on Facebook.  He’s never taken a FB quiz or sent an email.  He may be smarter than all of us.  Mi amigo es más inteligente que yo.

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.

Straw.  (What did you think I was going to say?)

Friends Patricia, Joan and I got together for some food, painting and, of course, laughing.   Patricia had seen someone on YouTube paint a tree with watercolor and a straw. So we gave it a try.   It was hilarious and fun.  Here are the results.

Cherry Blossom straw trees

Straw Trees 1

Straw Trees 2

It will never stop snowing here.  Ever.  Gothamist just posted this:  More Snow Expected To Hit City Today, Possibly Every Day For Eternity!  Since it’s so cold and snowy out, there are any number of Buzzfeed tests on the internet to pass the time until Spring.  And since I can kill time like nobody’s business, I’ve been enjoying (although not agreeing) with a number of them:

What state do you actually belong in?  (I got NH, then PA then TN)

What career should you have?  (Humanitarian – stop laughing, then Professor)

Which Star Trek character are you? (Chekov)

What font are you?  I got Courier.  My friend Judy got Futura. She said “I was sure I had a serif in me but apparently I was sans serif.”

And in case you didn’t know, here are the 5 stages of Winter:

Here’s to April!

Greenpoint cityscape 1-19-2013Greenpoint Cityscape Work In Progress – watercolor on 1/2 sheet of 140# Arches coldpress.

I started another cityscape, pictured here and already I don’t like it.  I think it’s because I’m cranky.  I tend to get crankier than normal in the winter months. You may insert The Husband’s eyeroll here.  He will say I am cranky year round. I will work on the painting some more and hopefully I will like it better. At least I still get to put graffiti on the buildings. That’s the best way to be a vandal.  Virtually.

Carol by Carlene 1-19-2014

This is a portrait my friend Carlene did of me.  I think it’s great.  My eyes are a little too big, but at least they don’t have bags under them like my real eyes do.  I think that’s also why I’m cranky.  I’m getting old.  Today in my spam folder I got an email about cellulite.   Talk about timing.  And here I was just thinking about going to the gym.


Finally, here is my cousin’s new puppy, Frankee.  He’s a 5 month old coon hound mix.  He was rescued from North Shore Animal League and he is an absolute delight.  He doesn’t care about the bags under my eyes.  He kisses me anyway.  Yay for dogs. They are the best.

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