Sometimes It’s Better to Mask Your Feelings

I don’t need a mask that matches my outfit, I need a mask that matches my mood. And, since I only have to wear a mask while going out for errands, where I’m unlikely to run into anyone I know, why not try to improve my mood by having a little fun?

Some of these sayings are long time favorites and apropos of the times we live in. Others have been shamelessly lifted from greetings cards I’ve bought despite knowing I could never, ever send them to anyone I know and hope to remain friends. But they could be useful for a trip to the DMV or a place where the surly staff has been conveying equally mean-spirited messages without the use of a mask for years.

It occurs to me that masks may create that same sense of false protection that one sometimes gets in their car shortly before screaming insults or making rude hand gestures at a complete stranger. As an introvert, however, I find this idea of venturing forth with newfound boldness appealing, so don’t be surprised if you see me wearing one of these soon.


The Stuff That Happens When the Kids Come Home From College

This idea was inspired by my daughter Grace after she produced a fantasic drawing of all the equipment she needs to take on an upcoming trip to Alaska with the Juneau Icefield Research Program. In addition to the 60 pieces of ceramics, the house is littered with mountaineering gear — telemarking skis and boots, ropes, harnesses, gigantic water bottles, stuff sacs, pads, tarps, crampons and carabiners. More than I could imagine fitting into this cartoon, and fortunately, no need to do so as she has so brilliantly captured it all!

It’s too bad I didn’t have the energy to try to work in some of the dialogue surrounding the discovery of the bat or the forgotten dog on the doorstep because it’s all very funny, but I feared that the cartoon might become more about the ways in which I’m turning into my mother than about the impact on the household our children make with their return home.

The Great Game of Women’s Tennis

Tis the season to move this one up to the top of the Vlog.  Originally published 4 years ago, there’s not much I’d change here other than to perhaps add a square that sends one backwards if they fail to wear an adequately supportive sports bra, but that’s about it.

As previously noted, above is the prototype for a board game I’m developing. I’ve still been too busy playing tennis to actually test it out, but I hope that it simulates the wild momentum swings that often occur in a match among middle-aged suburban women, along with all the various on court and off court goings on that make it a most vexing, yet addictively wonderful and amusing sport.

To enjoy reading this gameboard, you should start at the bottom and follow the path up from there. If you click on the image it should let you zoom in in case you’ve lost your reading glasses. If that doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll ask my tennis buddy Karen to help me fix it.



Things I Do to Calm Myself Down

I have been told by countless people during my life that I am “calm.” Friends, co-workers, even complete strangers — e.g. Cliff Drysdale, the voice of tennis after only five minutes of observation: “Christine you are very calm, I want to see you get angry with that overhead” — will comment that I am calm. And to that I will say, not necessarily and certainly not always. That said, an avid thumb sucker from birth until the ripe old age of seven, I learned quickly the benefits of being able to calm myself by the best available means.

I don’t know what got me thinking about this now, but who knows, maybe an examination of my calming techniques might prove useful to someone out there in Russia, which, according to Google Analytics, is where the majority of my blog readers reside.

Most of these calming methods have both their merits and their limitations. Cooking, cartooning, painting, and as noted, playing piano can trigger great frustration at times if too many mistakes are made. As for music, I have a strong preference for J.S. Bach to take the edge off, but it’s not guaranteed. English Suite No. 2 in A Minor – VII. Gigue, for example, is so devoid of rests, it actually causes my heart to race.

Bird watching too can be instantly ruined by a flock of marauding grackles or worse, a lone and hungry sharp-shinned hawk – beautiful, but not exactly calming when it swoops in to nab a beloved cardinal. Sitting with our dog Ivy is always effective, but we no longer allow her on the couch and she often smells like, well, a dog. Sometimes I’m just too lazy to weed, clean, or take a walk, and wine comes with calories and other unwanted baggage that must be considered.

Twirling a curl is the most primitive of my personal calming techniques and perhaps most like thumb-sucking – an absent minded response to whatever’s bothering me, but also hopelessly short-lived in its benefits.

So that leaves us with the mother-of-all-calming-devices, especially now that 221 full episodes are available on YouTube: The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. It’s not just his voice, or his goofy remarks, but the clacking of palette knife on glass mixing pigments, the methodical swishing of the “liquid white” paint — something completely foreign to me despite majoring in painting in college – back and forth over the canvas with the 2” inch brush, the soft scritching of a fan brush dabbing spruce trees to life. All I can say is it works like magic every time, unless that is, he starts painting a lopsided, hokey-looking cabin at the last minute. Now that makes me crazy.

Going Tennis Mental

Going Tennis Mental

This is what happens when the wheels come off the mental bus on the tennis court. There’s no question that tennis is a head game. Some say 90% of what it takes to win is related to mental toughness and the ability to stay present, focused and positive. I can tell you that once the ghost-of-the-blown-shot works its way into the picture, it can become impossible to rationalize that the reason you’re losing is simply because your opponent is a lot better than you are.

Imagine if sportscasters could get inside a tennis player’s head and present stats on their every thought, the way they do their every move, during a match.

mental stats 2 I would love to see that!

Stages of Sibling Life

Stages of Sibling Life

Several weeks ago I was asked to “come up with something about siblings” by my friends at Brain, Child Magazine for their siblings blog series. So I sent over a cartoon sketch I had done a while back (shown below), but then got to thinking more about the subject and suddenly all these images of sibling life I had observed between Ben and Grace over the years started to surface. I confess I had to make some of this up (unlike the cartoon that follows, which is verbatim). Ben never did make eye contact with Grace in the hospital — not because she couldn’t actually yet see that far, but rather because he spent his entire visit to the hospital figuring out how to work the door handle to the bathroom.

Here’s the rejected cartoon…”Messing with Reality.” Make sure to take note of the dog!

Mess w Reality_draft


Beyond Spanx

I bought my first pair of Spanx, the miracle undergarment for gracefully aging women, almost 10 years ago. At the time, I was completing the purchase of an exorbitantly priced party dress to wear to a friend’s posh wedding in the Bahamas. It could be argued that I didn’t quite need Spanx yet, but I was at risk of ending up in some magazine or tabloid photo, so I bought them. And I loved them. Since then I’ve expanded my Spanx wardrobe to include a variety of items, all fulfilling the promise of smoothing things out, no matter what I squeeze myself into. Spanx final 2

The problem is that the promise of sleek and smooth will never win out over the simple law of displacement of mass. What gets squeezed in one place gets squeezed out in another. And at some point, aging gracefully means that you understand there’s only so much you can do to fight time and gravity. So it’s with that in mind that I now find myself somehow hopelessly beyond Spanx.

I came up with these drawings to illustrate a friend’s wonderful blog post last year, shortly before realizing that I’d be better off just buying stock in REI and dressing myself in ambulatory tents. Given my familiarity with the Spanx product line, I couldn’t help but use myself as the model, and I’ve been cracking up at these drawings ever since.


Welcome to My Cluttered World

Recently a friend’s husband asked for the keys to my car so he could move it. Later, when I got into the car, the first thing I noticed were the two pairs of plastic Halloween fangs, one orange and one black, that had been in the center console tray for months along with a yellow feathered chick that had been there since last Easter. What on earth must he have thought?

WindowsillIt turns out that my car isn’t the only receptacle for vast accumulations of assorted bric-a-brac. This drawing, done in 2011, chronicles the various items that collect on our kitchen windowsill at any given time. Many items are still there today – the grappa, the Petoskey stone, the sterling silver needle. Other items have disappeared or been culled. For instance, the Chia pet couple went bald and was replaced by a Venus Fly Trap named Shelly and the Rescue Remedy spray was re-gifted to an anxious friend.

I will admit it, most of these items belong to me (except the clippers, those are not mine) and who knows what it says about me. I’ve recently considered eliminating such clutter from my life, mainly because we’re about to have the kitchen repainted, but I only entertain such thoughts when on my way out the door, when there’s no possibility of following through on the thought.

As they say, a clean stall is the sign of a dead horse.