Category Archives: travel

Got Hope?

Today is Election Day and I, along with millions of other Americans, am casting a vote today for my pick for President.  Let me just say, it’s time for a Change, yes we CAN.  ‘Nuf said.

Meanwhile, life goes on in spite of the world being a crazy place, or perhaps because of it.  I have been working a bit more in my sketch book recently, trying to make a positive example of myself for my wonderful students.  Like any good-for-you exercise, it feels great to be doing it….

Along with water color and mud, my book has a couple of polaroids in it.  I have been trying to figure out how to do polaroid transfers with not much luck.  I got this camera for 75 cents at a garage sale and have invested $17 for a strange 3V battery and then another $15 for a box of 10 exposure Fuji film that works with this camera model.  The guy at the shop where I bought the film told me this might not be the best for transfers, but by toying with the development time I might have some success.  It has been hit or miss thus far but I plan to keep trying and experimenting.  At the very least, I am having fun capturing these images and plan to hang on to the camera as yet another tool for making my sketchbook come alive in new and exciting ways.  I suppose there are cures for mild boredom.

If you have voted today, which I hope was tops on your to-do list, then get out into the world and experiment with some new art-making/ life-cataloguing stuff that you haven’t tried.  Polaroids are great, but so are digital photos and plain ol’ drawing.  I’m headed back out there to go live a little myself.

I’ll keep you posted.


Last week my Hub went out of town on business and unfortunately found himself without power cords for his laptop upon his return. Said cords are being shipped from Hong Kong and may be a few days which renders his laptop out of service due to a lack of power. The good thing is, he has my laptop as back up and can do his work as needed. The bad thing is, he has my laptop as back up…

It is interesting to me how much I turn to my computer during the day, to quickly research an idea, keep track of my images, blog, and keep in touch with friends and family. I have felt a little lost in recent days with out this electronic security blanket. Even so I am still painting every day, practicing music everyday (Augusta is fast approaching!), keeping up with my dogs, my family, my renovation. Life moves on. The past week is perhaps a good preparation for the up-coming weeks when I will be out of the electronic loop while at Irish Music camp and vacation in our beloved Soul Home, Maine. It is possible I may not check in with my virtual self until Mid-August. Life moves on.

In the meantime, below is what has been happening around here recently and I am certain to post something about my summer adventures when I return, or on route, if I am so inspired. It is summer after all, and the living is supposed to be easy….

Last night Tony and I went on a sunset dinner cruise on the Ohio River for our anniversary which is coming up in a few days. We were blessed with beautiful, soft weather and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

I have stuck to my commitment of making a tiny painting every day and have even managed to photograph each piece. It’s amazing to me how they pile up. Below are the results…

I am pleased with the results but more importantly with the process. There is just not a lot of pressure in one tiny painting. It’s a lot like the theme of this blog, a little every day… for most days. But play at the wax table is not all that’s happening. After some concrete related hold-ups (the end result is even better than the first version) our cabinets are finally being installed. I don’t think we’ll have a kitchen until way after vacation, but at least we are still moving forward again after a couple of weeks in a holding pattern (note: Concrete takes patience, don’t ever rush it. Our guys did and had to do a LOT of work to fix it!)

Puppy Boot Camp (at least my gentle version of it) is still going on. We walk twice a day which they love. When at home all members of the family, and guests as well, are learning how to teach all three to keep all four paws on the ground and mind their place in the pack. All of us are benefiting from this wonderful structure. They are even lying still enough sometimes that I have gotten a couple of daily dog sketches done!

Yes, indeed life moves on… I’ll keep you posted, when I get the chance!

Road Trip Season (episode 1)

This past Saturday was the Detroit Feis, an Irish Dance competition where my daughter Maddie competed in a number of different dances. She won first place in her Reel which gave everyone cause to celebrate. Her best buddy and fellow dancer Camille also won her Reel (they are in different age/ skill level categories), and her Treble Reel and placed 4th in her Treble Jig. These girls never stop dancing, especially with all the music that surrounds them, so it’s nice to see them reap the benefits of all their hard work.

While in Detroit we were fortunate to have a place to stay at my friend Dave’s house. Dave is a potter who lives and works in Ferndale, Michigan. He has his studio set up in his basement and the kids spent much of their free time making clay pots.

When we travel to another city to attend an Irish Dance competition, part of the fun is hanging out afterwards with the musicians who were hired to play for the dancers as well as those who live in that city. Having just attended the Fleadh held in Detroit this year, it was great to meet up with some of those Detroit musicians once again and have few tunes. I played only a little bit on Saturday night at the Feis Musician’s hotel.

Sunday’s tunes were to be had at Conor O’Neil’s pub in Ann Arbor Michigan and I have to admit, I am a chicken. My whistle stayed hidden in my bag during this session which was filled with amazing musicians and great Irish Music. Sometimes there’s value in simply listening.

Not all weekend was spent at Irish cultural events. We had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with my friend Jeni’s brother who has a pool and two amazing golden retriever dogs. Bailey, the younger of the two, likes to swim but she doesn’t do it like any other dog I have ever met. She stays vertical, like a person, and keeps her back paws on the floor of the pool. It is hilarious. She could probably win some money on America’s Funniest Home Videos or something.

Allie is Bailey’s older sister. She doesn’t swim a whole lot but rather lies in the shade like a big ol’ carpet dog. I sat and drew a picture…

Before the session on Sunday at O’Neil’s, we walked around Ann Arbor and looked at all the cool shops there. One phenomenon I was excited to check out was that of the Urban Fairies, reputed to be found in Ann Arbor. Sure enough, we found them. Little tiny doors behind which lay another world. I left a button and a New Zealand coin as my offering to the Fairies at Peaceable Kingdom gift shop, glad to participate in this sweet Ann Arbor tradition.

coming up for air

My friend Doug reminded me the other day that I had not posted any fleadh results on my blog as I had promised before heading to Detroit for the big weekend of Irish Music. It was indeed a weekend filled with music and very little sleep. It was a chance to catch up with friends from other cities whom we only get to see at such events. Someone was quoted as saying “would we even get together for such a weekend if we didn’t have a poor excuse such as a competition?” After it is all said and done, most of us here in Cincinnati agree that it is not about the results of the competition. We have a very closely knit community of Irish musicians here in our area, but we don’t have the numbers that some of the bigger cities have. That said, the Riley School kids ceili band was awarded 2nd place in that competition. Lots of Riley kids also placed in the many solo competitions available to them (Jack got 2nd in Mandolin!). It was a successful weekend on many fronts. Unfortunately, the one thing that went wrong is my forgetting to bring a camera! But if you click the link above, you can get the general feel for the weekend from those wonderful photos. Oh, and by the way, the over 18 “adult” ceili band (i.e. “The Little Ceili Band that Could”) didn’t win a prize. But we got up there and played fairly well, despite our nerves.

Once we got home and settled from the Fleadh weekend, the wild end-of-the-school-year pace set in and I have been trying simply to just keep up! There have been lots of concerts and recitals, and celebrations for the older kids moving onto their next adventures. Jack, my 7th grader, was just fitted this week for a pair of glasses. Maddie is slowly putting together her new Irish Dance ensemble since she just acquired her first solo dress. Tonight we worked on a crown which will mach the dress. I think we had success…


In spite of what seems like an endless spring puppetry schedule, I have managed to make a little art here and there. There is an area of Downtown Cincinnati called Over-The-Rhine which is filled with the most amazing architecture and a varied assortment of residents and businesses. My kids go to school in this neighborhood and so as a family, we spend quite a lot of time there. As many inner city areas do, OTR faces some challenges in dealing with crime and poverty, but a core group of dedicated individuals are working toward making OTR the best it can be. One recent project is the GreenBird House project. These wonderful “green” bird houses were distributed to local artists who then in turn put their own mark on them. The newly decorated bird houses then go up for auction, proceeds going to the Over-The-Rhine Community Housing project. Below is my bird house. Perhaps it’s the presence of all the shiny Irish Dance stuff laying around, or the fact that it’s spring, but I stepped out of my usual aesthetic to make something just this side of ridiculous. I had a lot of laughs working on it!



Just a few more days of puppetry and being chained to a school schedule. I need a dose of artistic meandering and allowing time to flow as it should. More time to sketch and blog and notice the little stuff.

traveling shoes


I am still working off the images and thinking that were with me in Olympia. There is a great line in a song by the Be Good Tanyas called The Littlest Birds. “…you pass through places and places pass through you but you carry them with you on the soles of your traveling shoes.” I think this idea is true. Travel, even the smallest trips, has a way of changing a person in small ways. For me, I often feel more alive and awake after a trip. Getting out of town causes me to pay attention to my surroundings a bit more. This is important therapy for a visual artist.

There is a dog in Olympia named Sakima who is a real gem. I took a few snapshots of him while out there this time so I could sketch him a bit when I got home. He has a beautiful wolf-like quality to him, as well as a gentle and open spirit.


One of the souveneirs I like to pick up whenever I am anywhere in the Pacific North-“wet” are the lovely beach pebbles that can be found just about anywhere on the coast. I love to draw them. The colors are endless in scope and I find them beautiful to look at and place around my house in bowls. Often a visitor to my house will ask, “so what’s with the rocks?…”



Landing Gear


There are some places in the world to which I feel rooted ; places where I feel tremendously at home. Being something of a Gypsy at heart, I pretty much make myself at home any place, but there are a few particularly special places I love most of all.

The Belgrade Lakes region in Maine is one. My family and I go there every summer to “fill our cups” and spend some time with people we love as family and miss when we’re away. Elkins, WV is another place I love, where my son and I go for Irish Music immersion. I like to think of our time in Elkins as being like the faerie stories where an unsuspecting traveler stumbles upon a magical land where time flows differently, music is the only food one needs, and the real world just melts away…at least for a week.

I have spent the past few days out on the west coast in Olympia, WA. I have some dear friends who live out there so I took the opportunity to visit. Olympia has become one of those places for me over the years as I have visited quite often. There are more shades of green there (even in winter!) than my watercolor set can possibly manage. The coffee is outstanding; my favorite is Batdorf and Bronson’s downtown.

There is also a very friendly dog culture in Olympia. Many school teachers actually take their dogs to school with them to spend time with their students. One of these is Jinx who works in the 5th grade classroom at McKenny Elementary school. Jinx is tiny, probably a dachshund chihuahua mix of some sort, and such a gentle little soul.


My friends who live in Olympia are lucky to have a bit of land around their house and so they have any number of animals both inside and out at any given time. My favorite this go round was Curly, a Peruvian Guinea Pig who belongs to Olivia. I always thought of guinea pigs as sort of skittish but Curly is peace personified. Zen Pig, if you will.


Coming home from a trip is stressful. Reality and normalcy come crashing back at me and I can get a little overwhelmed and depressed if I’m not careful. However, years of traveling have taught me a little bit about what I think of as my “landing gear”. Allowing myself a little extra time and space, coffee and friendship in my first day or two back can often prevent my formerly predictable “break up on re-entry”. Add to that my beloved family that cleaned the house for my arrival and this trip’s re-entry has been pretty smooth.

I am glad to be home, surrounded by my awesome family, my rambunctious dogs, and back in my studio where I can get to work on drawing some of the dogs I met and pebbles I collected while in Olympia.

Hanging out in Nashville

Nashville boots This weekend I went to Nashville, Tennessee with my mom and sis for our annual girls getaway. I’ve been to Nashville before and have found it to be an eclectic, friendly, interesting place to be. This time, we stayed primarily downtown where most of the country music flavored culture is to be found. Here’s a list of some things I saw:

Cowboy Hats (zillions)
Boots (even more of these, and got a pair myself)
Boobs (come on girls, can’t we leave SOMETHING to the imagination?)
Homeless folks (this is a large problem in Nashville but there seem to be advocacy groups there doing research and talking to people about how best to help)
Guitars (everywhere! Lots of rising stars running from gig to gig with them on their backs)
Legendary likenesses (tons of Country Music lore and the images are everywhere)
Dogs (on horseback, on leashes, in stores, busking for change)
Music (talent was oozing from this place. I’m not a fan of country music but there was not one wrong note anywhere near this town!)

All in all I enjoyed Nashville in spite of my distaste for and ignorance of most things relating to country music (I do love the roots of it, however). We topped off our visit with what has to be the best breakfast and cup of coffee in town at Fido’s Coffehouse.