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.

A Guide to Cute vs. Ugly

My daughter Grace and I have been discussing this concept for many years and this seemed like a good way to catalog some of the amazing things I saw during a recent trip to South Africa with friends.

From the very beginning, the the upper two quadrants have always contained animals, typically baby animals, while the bottom two quandrants have contained people. So it should come as no suprise that the only thing I encountered (including four snakes) that qualified for the Ugly quadrant was an all-around unpleasant American woman who happened to ride in our Rover one day. After several failed attempts to introduce ourselves, we gave up. We never did learn anything about her, except that her husband’s name was Bob.

In hindsight, and after going through my 2,200 photos, I do believe that baboons might also qualify to be put in this most unfortunate quadrant, but it’s too late now.

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.

Let Each Man Exercise the Art He Knows — Aristophanes, 450 BC

Grease Art

I don’t know what to say about this other than that I was inspired to post it after reading that Dunkin’ Donuts’ new Bacon Sandwich has fewer calories than its healthy turkey sausage rival. No turkey sausage grease in my artwork, that’s for sure!

Shout out to my husband Dave who pointed out that our grease jar was a work of art in the first place.

The Pictionary Diaries

Sometimes people will remark to me that I must be very good at the game Pictionary, but the truth is, I’m not very good at it. I get caught up in the detail and I like to take my time when drawing. Nevertheless, I do love Pictionary, and love it even more when I win.

This entry recalls a particularly memorable game of Girls Against the Boys with my sister Leslie playing against my brother Steve and husband Dave. I lucked out in drawing a word that happens to be the subject of many of my cartoons — my mother.  Below is another memorable All Draw that we won. I haven’t mixed up the woofer and tweeter ever again.





Any Nut Will Do

I have always loved drawing nuts, but this is the first drawing I can recall that includes a variety of nuts that are actually food.









This is also the first drawing that I did to provide my friend Karen Swanson some illustrations for her excellent blog, “Goin Lo-Co: No-Med Journey to Lower Cholesterol.” She doesn’t need the illustrations because her writing is wonderful — a pleasure to read, full of good ideas and completely engaging even to someone like me whose diet consists primarily of bacon, ribeye steaks and, I’ll admit it, blue sno-cones and crispy chicken skin.

Dogs Evolved From Plants

The similarity between our neighbor’s dog Sparky’s tail and Van Gogh’s cypress trees is what got me going on this. I have a list of more examples to draw once I get around to it.  For instance, we have a weeping Katsura tree that bears a striking similarity to a shih tzu’s ponytail.