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I made a ton of coasters and plates for the Arts Council Holiday Craft Fair.  Now Christmas is over and just before we get to 2012, I have another birthday.   Once again, I am not 60!

December 28.  As my friend Chris once told me in his North Carolina butter melting accent “Doesn’t it just suck to have to share the spotlight with the baby Jesus?”

Yes, Chris.  Yes it does.

Famous people with a December 28th birthday:

Denzel Washington, Dame Maggie Smith, Oprah’s friend Gayle King (no relation) and Woodrow Wilson, to name a few.  But I don’t know any of them. So happy birthday to all my friends and family who share this day with me:

My nephew Kevin

The Husband’s partner Sean

Mark, the owner of the bar around the corner

Bob,  my friend who lives two blocks away and whom I never see

My sister’s neighbor Gayle Aprile

My friend Aram’s sister

Taryn’s dog Domino

If I knew what I was doing I could tell you the sizes of the plates.  The coasters below, which came out huge in the pictures, are just regular sized coasters.  Oh well,  Maybe now that I’m another year older I’ll figure this blogging thing out.

Happy and healthy 2012 to all.

Who knows where the time goes?    I have no new paintings to post and only this decoupage under glass plate to show so I am posting the contents of an email that my brother who does not read my blog (“mbwdnrmb”) sent to me.  I was so amused by it I thought I would share it.  Mbwdnrmb won’t know I posted it.  He doesn’t read my blog.  So there!

As I worked on my computer this morning, Dillon came up to me with a toy helicopter.  While spinning its tail rotor he asked me, “Daddy, what’s this for”?    I gave him the basic technical response stating that the main rotor provides lift and allows the helicopter to move up and down and forward and back where the tail rotor counter-acts the rotational force of the main rotor and stops the body of the helicopter from spinning.

The next words out of my mouth were these:
“And you know, if you’re ever in a gun battle with a helicopter, you can win by shooting its tail rotor off.
Any fan of 80’s action movies is well aware that even though the chopper may have men armed with fully automatic assault rifles, your years of training in Special Forces and the measly 9mm hand gun you have provides you with the skill and agility to avoid being shot and the ability to shoot the tail rotor off.”

With that, Dillon marched into the kitchen and said,

“Mommy…..did you know…. that you can win a gun battle with a helicopter if you shoot its tail rotor off”???

It didn’t go over big.

Names are funny.  Some of them are common, some strange, some just odd.  I am always fascinated by people’s names and what my impression of the person is based on their name, even if I never met them.

If your name is Susan, Patricia, Carol, or Barbara you are probably from my generation.  If your name is Apple, Rain, Brittney or Taylor I’m going to guess you are much younger than I.  And what about families who all have the same name.  Shout “John” at a family party in my house and about 10 guys will turn around.  This leads to defining cousins and uncles as  “big John” and “little John” and always becomes amusing when Little John grows bigger than Big John.

Recently, a co-worker’s baby shower  had us all guessing the not yet born baby girl’s name. After the usual guesses I suggested &i, pronounced Andi.   I figure that’s the next step in names. Like the artist formerly known as Prince.   And the New York Times reporter whose middle name is 8.   And my newest favorite real name:  Anthony Bologna, a/k/a Tony Baloney!

Years ago Charlie found a website which consisted of  folks sending in silly names like Bertha Venation or Ana Conda.   Charlie went to work coming up with names, but of course he had to take it one step further and came up with what he called “telephone book names”.  Names that sounded OK, until they were put in a phone book, last name first.  Dwayne Downda becomes Downda Dwayne. Lou Water, Nick L. Pumper and Ted Farr are also fun.   Needless to say we were amused by this for days.   The Husband just rolled his eyes at us.

Here’s the link if you want to get a laugh.   You will have to scroll all the way down to the bottom for the “telephone names”.

I started on these coasters, but only had 3 images of the cats.  Who uses only 3 coasters?   So I decided to do 3 more coasters using the cat butts.  Now there are 6 coasters.  Much more civilized.

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:    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!

Just back from a fantastic trip to Croatia (or Hrvatska as the Croatians call it).  It was the Husband’s big birthday trip. Our first stop was Istria, a peninsula that juts out into the Adriatic.  That is where my father’s family comes from.   We got to see the town my grandmother came from which was fun.  The town is called Šušnjevica and I spoke about it and painted it here and here.   There will be many more paintings to come, but in the meantime here is a similar plate as the plates I made to give to my cousin’s cousins (got that?) who live in Pula and have, among other things, a vineyard.

Some observations from the trip:

Croatians are a tall people.

Germans are also a tall people and apparently like to take all their clothes off in the sun.

Europeans in general cannot stand in line if their life depended on it.  There may be a semblance of a line say, to get on a catamaran to take one to Hvar, but as soon as that catamaran docks, it’s a free-for-all.  This made the Husband nuts!  (Members of the UK are excluded from this observation. They excel at queuing!)

It amazes me that so many people from other countries can speak multiple languages.  I am always jealous of this.  One time in particular, there was a Croatian who spoke to my cousin’s cousin, who then turned and translated to my cousin in Italian who then turned and translated it into English for us.  Sigh.  I wish I was multi-lingual.  I also wish I was taller, younger, richer and weighed less.

The first native word the Husband learns is the word for beer.  (In Croatian it’s Pivo.)

“Trst” is the Croatian word for the Italian town of Trieste.  Krk is a Croatian island in the Adriatic.  Many of the Croatian words have impossibly long consonant combinations that make it difficult for non-speakers to even try to pronounce.  There are also many accented letters.  The Husband asked a native why they have little or few vowels in many of their words.  She thought about this for a moment, shrugged and said nonchalantly replied “we don’t need them”.    So there you go.

An amazing amount of Europeans still smoke.  I am astounded by that.

The myth of the skinny European has been debunked.  Many are as fat as Americans.

The Adriatic Sea is crystal clear and many beautiful shades of blue.

Croatians love their Crocs (which they call crocsies).

More on Croatia (Istria and the Dalmation Coast) with (hopefully) some paintings in later posts.

Decoupaged image, bronzing powders and paint on the back of a clear glass dinner plate

Recently Charlie and Liz’s son Chris was telling me about his new job as a manager at a “Green” cleaning company.  These are all the rage.  As a manager he goes to different locations to price out jobs as well as check on the cleaning crews. Most of his jobs are just regular cleaning gigs, but a few were kind of gross…from cleaning up after a hoarder with a dead cat under all her junk to cleaning up a location where someone had died.   NOT of natural causes.

While I’m all for green cleaning when it comes to blood spatter or pet remains I say give me bleach and keep it coming. Which reminds me of an old Seinfeld joke.  He spoke about a TV ad for a laundry detergent and how the ad claimed it could get blood out of a shirt.  His comment was “if you need to worry about getting blood out of your shirt perhaps laundry isn’t your biggest problem”.

Oh how Jerry made me laugh.

There is a family down the block who we think are hoarders.  When Charlie and I are doing the late walk and someone comes in or out of that house we peek inside and marvel at the stacks of stuff.  Charlie wondered if they were really hoarders or just have really bad decorating taste?  Do they think a used shopping bag makes a really nice table accessory? I guess we will never know.  I have a feeling we won’t be invited in anytime soon.  No room.

The plate above is one of 6 that I did, each with a different flower or group of flowers.  Unfortunately photographing glass is difficult for me.  The background has metallic bronzing powder in golds and greens and then was painted with a cream color with a final coat of polyurethane.   If I can get some good pictures of the rest I’ll post them.   You can see the other glass pieces I did here.  I think those photographed better because of the darker background.   Since it’s clear glass on the top and the image, paint and metallic powder is all on the back you can actually eat off them.  Cleaning is easy, just hand wash.  Try not to get blood on them.

Set of 4 Art glass coasters – each are 4 1/2″ in diameter

Boy am I tired.

After about 20 years I went ice skating again.  My brother who does not read my blog has two boys, 6 and almost 4.  The six-year-old is taking ice skating lessons and wanted The Husband to show him how to skate backwards.  So off we went.  I never thought I could still skate but I could.  And it was fun. OK, there were no comparisons to Peggy Fleming, but at least I didn’t fall.

After skating it was off to Monster Mini Golf which is indoors and has black (UV) lighting.  Wow,  flashback to the 60’s and 70’s.  It had great music, a disco ball, and our shirts and shoelaces glowed in the dark.  We topped that off with some ski-ball.  It’s an arcade game where you toss a ball up an incline and try to get it into different holes for points and tickets.  A bazillion tickets gets you a pencil eraser.  At that point The Husband and I had to go home.  We couldn’t take any more excitement.

I am now going to take 3 Advils and go to bed.  My whole body hurts.   Wait, maybe first I will make a cosmo and rest the glass on these lovely art glass coasters that I made.  This way I don’t get rings on my fancy tray table.

The coasters are made by decoupaging images on the back of glass coasters with plain old Elmer’s glue.  Then some bronzing powders (the metallic in the images above – I used gold and chocolate) paint and polyurethane.  The process is very time-consuming but I love the results.  Can’t wait to make more.

When can I quit my tedious day job so I can play with paint, glue and scissors all day?

Since my birthday is at the end of the year, (December 28th.  I  happily accept gifts.)  I was younger than all the other kids when it was time to go to kindergarten. I cried everyday as my mother walked me to school. Actually, the real story goes that I was expelled from kindergarten.  For spitting at the teacher.  (Me?)

So, having been unceremoniously kicked out of kindergarten, I missed all the kindergarten fun of cutting, pasting and gluing.  Which probably explains why I love to do that now.

The piece above was done by pasting images under a piece of glass with good old Elmer’s glue, then using some gold metallic powders (sparingly as I was told by the teacher) in some key spots, painting the back of the plate (I chose this ocher color), another layer of metallic and then varnish.  It was unbelievably time intensive, but fun.  The actual plate is a bit darker than this photo, but it was hard to photograph glass.  The size is 5 and 7/8 square.

My Sunday art teacher also teaches this glass class during the week.  I had been looking at all the spectacular pieces she has in her studio for years and finally I decided to try it.  I was not disappointed.  I was, however, rather heavy-handed with the metallic.  The teacher had to constantly scratch off some of the metallic which I promptly put back on.  I told her clearly she had no Latin blood.  If it was up to me the whole back of the plate would have been gold metallic!   Be on the lookout, I will be trying this again.

This week is Thanksgiving in the U.S. so I would like to take this opportunity to say how thankful I am for my beloved husband, my siblings, siblings-in-law, cousins, nieces, nephews and dear friends.  I have been truly blessed in the family & friends dept.  I would also like to say how grateful I am to you, gentle blog-reader.  Thank you for continuing to visit and comment.   I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.   This concludes the sappy portion of this post.

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