Saturday, December 19, 2009

Golden Haze

Hand-painted Leather Bag with Ceramic Medallion

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dragonflies (Back View)

Handpainted Leather Handbag

Flutter 'n Vines

Let's Bee Friends

Handpainted Leather Bag

Dragonflies (Front View)

Handpainted Leather Handbag

Corner of Butterfly and Vine

Handpainted Leather Handbag

Take Flight

Handpainted Leather Handbag

Big Butterfly

Handpainted Leather Handbag

The Buzz

Handpainted Leather Handbag

Flutter and Fly

Handpainted Leather Handbag

Friday, June 26, 2009

Slide Show

Here is a slide show of my recent paintings

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Earth Angel

My stocking feet
glide across the gym floor
like a figure skater in
an ice palace.
My left hand reclines demurely
on his right shoulder.

oh, oh, oh,
oh, oh, oh

My right hand is nestled
like a baby robin
in his much larger palm.
I close my eyes to fend off
a wave of dizziness as he
twirls me in circles.

The vision of your love-loveliness

My powder blue angora cardigan is
securely buttoned down the back.
My pony tail swishes softly
from side to side.
My circle skirt floats like a parachute
above a thermal current
of crinolines.

the vision of your hap-happiness

I open one eye to steal a glance
at Connie as she sails by with Kent.
His duck tail glistens in the reflected
light bouncing off the bleachers.
Her braces sparkle as
she smiles up at him.

oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh , oh, oh, oh

Our chaperones slouch silently in the corner
Coach Stevens glares at one of his players,
Bruce Johnson, as he wraps both arms
around his partner’s waist.
He’ll pay the price tomorrow
in laps around the track.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Christmas Photo: Three Sisters

We stare straight ahead,
smiling at the photographer.
The camera loves Carolyn,
with her high, photogenic cheekbones.
Catherine flashes that megawatt smile
that can light up any room.
I stand erect,
posture-perfect me.

We look lovely.
Stunning, actually.
The camera has been kind this time.
With the Christmas tree as backdrop,
we stand ready to face another year.
Another decade even.

We have stood by one another through
the terrible twos
bouts of depression
graduate degrees
breast cancer
marital conflict
house hunting
college graduations
love affairs
broken hearts
career set-backs
financial hardships
and economic downturns.

We have traveled together through China.
We have toured the southern coast of Spain.
We have visited France, Italy, and Germany together.
We have criss-crossed the borders into Mexico and Canada.

Three sisters by marriage.
Staring into the camera.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sioux City, Iowa

The stench of the stockyards
always let you know
you were getting
close to home.

The Missouri River sparkled
and swirled along I-29
like a brown velvet ribbon.
It led you into the center of town.

How many times had that river
overrun its banks,
filling buildings and basements
with mud and sludge?
No sandbags could stop it.

I remember the Flood of 1952.
I stood on a high hill with my Dad
and watched downtown Sioux City
sink into that muddy river.

That was the year of the polio epidemic.
You couldn’t go to the swimming pool.
Everyone was supposed to stay home;
otherwise, you might end up in an iron lung.

This town had struggled to save itself.
The inner city had a brief renaissance,
but the mall did it in.
It’s pretty much deserted now.

When I was a kid,
we used to take the streetcar into town.
We went to the movies at the Capital Theater
or shopping at Younkers Department Store.
They’re both gone now.

Central High School had been converted
to apartments.
Low income housing, I understand.
This was the Castle on the Hill
where I went to school.

The neighborhood around St. Thomas Episcopal Church
was littered with junk cars and graffiti.
Parishioners from the North side of town
would no longer worship here.
They were afraid to come.

The big Victorian homes along Jackson Street
were still standing.
People still lived in them but
the “Painted Ladies” looked tired,
in need of a face lift.

I sprinkled Dad’s ashes
under the mulberry bush in the yard
of the house where my mother was born
and my parents were married.

I sprinkled them under five trees
in the yards of five houses
where my father lived
during his 91 years in this town.

I sprinkled his ashes
at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
I buried them in two cemeteries,
alongside each of his wives.

I threw his ashes up in the air
and let the wind carry them
all the way to the Missouri River
as I drove out of town.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Once Lived in Narragansett, Rhode Island

Wealthy Philadelphians summered here
in the 1800’s.
They came by rail
with their steamer trunks
and servants.

There were grand hotels,
golf courses,
polo grounds,
tennis courts,
a race track,
and a casino.

John Wilkes Booth’s brother
visited regularly each summer.
He used to stage plays
in a circular guest house
on Central Street.

Jefferson Davis’ daughter
attended St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
as a part-time parishioner.
A Tiffany stained-glass window
was bequeathed in her memory.

I remember the seagulls
screeching at the sea wall.
Beady eyes on high alert,
always on the look-out
for a snack.
Flying rats
the locals called them.
I loved their big yellow beaks
with the tiny red spot
on the tip.

Bright beach umbrellas
in primary colors
luffed in the breeze
like spinnakers
in a regatta.

Out on the water
sailboats drifted by,
tacking and jibing
their way
to Block Island.

The smell of sea kelp
marinated in salt water
slapped you in the face
at low tide.

The tympanic pounding
of the waves
against the shore
sounded like the percussion section
of some celestial symphony.

I used to walk down the beach,
past the Dunes Club
to the Narrow River.
When the tide was running out,
you could dive into the water
and the current would suck you up
and spit you out
at the mouth of Narragansett Bay.

I will always wonder why Narragansett
never achieved the stature of Newport.
Although Jacqui Kennedy’s maiden aunts
had once lived across the street from me,
the Vanderbilts never came.
I suppose it was the harbor
that was lacking.

How different it is
from the Sonoran Desert
where I now live
amid the succulents and cacti
that populate this place.
The painting of the old casino, So Many Memories,
still hangs on my dining room wall.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Up in the Attic

That crusty old screen with its peeling green paint
and missing hinges. That pair
of Rossignols in the rafters
with the bear trap bindings. That yellow
steamer trunk stuffed with high school scrapbooks
and old love letters. That wall of grey
metal file cabinets crammed
with obsolete lesson plans.
That kerosene lamp I had wired
for electricity but never used.

That mattress and box springs
I’ve been storing for Michael
should probably be donated to
the battered women’s shelter.
That dining room table
we bought second-hand
from the family in Beverly Hills.
That Victorian birdcage
complete with canary
that Emma always thought was alive.

That fake ficus tree
I bought in a yard sale
to fill in a corner
where nothing else fit.
That musty bolt of floral chintz
would have made great slipcovers
if I’d ever gotten around to it.

That black plastic foot locker filled
with file folders, transcripts, and audio-tapes.
That dissertation debris: I promised
the Human Subjects Committee
I would dispose of it within ten years.
Clearly a lie.

That set of Ben Hogans
you got
the year we were married.
That fight we had
because you bought them
without asking me first.
That miniature doll house belonged
to Melissa. That I’ve kept it this long
is amazing.

That dented brass headboard
I bought at an auction,
that old gooseneck lamp
I found at a yard sale,
and that reindeer skin rug
I picked up in Norway
are perfect examples of
buyer’s regret.

That big, red
Selectric over there on the table
predeceased the word processor
by three or four years.
That machine was a marvel
with its built-in white out key
and instant carriage return.

That old raccoon coat
that Mom wore in the 20’s.
That brown mink stole
with the glass eyes and tails
may still be of interest to
the local consigner.

I should call her tomorrow
and see what she says.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Had Forgotten

how much Mom
loved to smoke Kent Cigarettes with her morning coffee
and how hard she struggled
to give them up over the years.

How much Mom adored chocolate covered peanuts.
She would buy them and hide them in high places
so that we kids wouldn’t find them,
but Ricky knew all her hiding spots.

How Mom said Dad was really three different people:
one at home, another at work, and a third at church.
I asked her once which Dad she liked best.
She said she preferred Dad at church.

How we invented games
to entertain ourselves on hot, summer
afternoons sitting on the porch,

watching the cars go by, pretending

the next Studebaker belonged to me and
the Hudson after that belonged to you
and then laughing out loud if one of us got stuck
with all the clunkers.

How we slept on chairs in front of the window
air-conditioner in the dining room on muggy
Iowa nights when the humidity was 90
and so was the temperature.

How we begged Dad to take us for a drive
down Country Club Boulevard
with the top down so we could feel
the cool air swirling around our faces.

How he took us to the Dairy Queen where we ordered banana splits
with three scoops of soft ice cream, swimming
in a sea of chocolate sauce, strawberry syrup,
and pineapple chunks.

How Mr. Hilgers would sit out in his front yard
in his rocking chair
and smoke Camel cigarettes non-stop until the nicotine
turned his fingers yellowish-brown.

How I sat on Dad’s lap and sobbed
because I had been lying in bed thinking about eternity
and how long you would have to spend up in Heaven
after you died with no possibility of ever leaving the place.

How Ruth Ann Bryans died at the age of 14
when a metal pole from a swing set fell on her heart and crushed it.
How Bobby Berryman died at age 13 from chronic colitis
after intentionally eating popcorn when he knew he shouldn't.

How I once had a butterfly collection
that I kept in a box, lined with black velvet.
How I caught the butterflies with a home-made net,
fashioned out of a bent coat hanger covered with one of my mother’s

nylon stockings. How I pulled the butterflies’ heads off to kill them.
Then I laid their wings in the velvet-lined box and
placed a hand-written label under each set of wings
with the butterfly’s name on it.

How I tired of the collection, eventually,
went up to the third floor attic,
opened the window, tipped the box over, and
let all the dried butterfly wings sail
out the window and float to the ground.

The Minister's Wife

In Public

She wears a hat to church each Sunday.
She sits down front, close to the pulpit.
She knows the words to all the hymns.
She recites the liturgy from memory.
Her children go to Sunday School.
She wears white gloves and pearl earrings.
Her hairstyle is ten years out of date.
She wears her skirts below her knees.
She drives an older Chevrolet.
She genuflects before communion.
She buys her clothes at J.C. Penney’s.
She avoids discussing politics.
She listens well and smiles often.
She very rarely criticizes.
She serves on several church committees.
She entertains on Friday nights.

In Private

She sneaks a smoke when no one’s looking.
She spends a lot of time on Facebook.
She curses under her breath
at the slightest provocation.
She gravitates to romance novels.
She often has erotic dreams.
She envies other women who are
better dressed than she is.
She resents the late night phone calls
and parishioner demands.
She’s sick of parish politics
and tithing every year.
She thinks about her early life
when she was still a teacher.
She finds it’s hardest late at night
when everyone is sleeping
and she is left to contemplate
the choices that she’s made.
She knows her faith is fragile.
She prays to God to help her
to become the kind of person
every congregation needs.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nobody Could Cook Like Aunt Ida

She could fry walleyed pike in a batter
so light
it brought tears
to your eyes.

She made home-made doughnuts
in a deep-fat fryer.
We loved to watch as she
dropped little dough ringlets
into a pool of sizzling lard.

The doughnuts
bobbed and danced
as the fat
sputtered and spit.

In no time, it seemed,
she fished them out
all puffy, crispy, and brown,
sprinkled them with white sugar,
and placed them on parchment paper
to cool.

We could eat all we wanted.

I was told that Aunt Ida
catered her own daughter’s wedding reception.
Following the ceremony,
guests were forced to wait for an hour and a half
while Aunt Ida arranged
the relish trays.

Friends, 1957

We were two skinny girls in love with Elvis.
We walked to school together every day.
Your idea of breakfast was a Twinkie and a coke.
My mom made me eat bacon and eggs.

We worried a lot about our complexions.
We agonized over our hair.
I bleached mine with lemon juice.
You wore yours in a pony tail.

We wore pale pink lipstick
and Cherries in the Snow nail polish.
We took dancing lessons at the YMCA.
We dreamed of becoming cheerleaders.

We read “Gone with the Wind”
two times, back to back.
You loved Melanie Wilkes.

I worshipped Doris Day.

You taught me the shuffle step
on your basement floor.
We used to lean on one other whenever
we walked down the sidewalk together.

We rode the streetcar to the Capital Theater.
Our favorite movie was Funny Face.
We wanted to look like Audrey Hepburn
and dance like Fred Astaire.

We sneaked into the Coney Island
and ate hotdogs with onions,
even though your mother didn’t approve.
We both loved horehound drops.

We played Kingston Trio records on your brother’s phonograph.
We talked about sharing an apartment in New York some day.
We dreamed of performing on Broadway
or becoming missionaries.

We competed for grades, but never admitted it.
We knew we were smart, but you were a genius.
We went to the boat club when your mother would drive us.
While I swam in the pool, you sat in the sun.

We each found a boyfriend, of course they were “jocks.”
We learned to make out without going too far.
We gossiped and giggled and whispered our secrets.
We pretended to know a lot more than we did.

We set a high standard and we were proud of it.
Our own reputations were all that we had.
We acted like Doris, the perpetual virgin.
We modeled ourselves after Melanie Wilkes.

When Elvis was touring, he came to Sioux City.
Your father arranged to take us backstage.
We waited downstairs in the old auditorium.
And then the door opened and Elvis appeared.

We rushed up to him with our programs in hand.
We gave him a pen and begged him to sign.
He protested a bit, but then he relented.
His upper lip curled as he scribbled his name.

You still have his autograph, 50 years later.
I’m sure you could sell it on Craig’s List or E-bay.
I threw mine in the trash when I left for college.
My love for Elvis had faded away.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Summertime at Lake Walker

That red iron pump handle
in the kitchen sink
stands silent, waiting to be primed.
That well water is so cold
it can give you a brain freeze.

That kerosene lantern
on the dining room table
promises an evening’s entertainment
of gin rummy, charades, or monopoly.

That hand-cranked Victrola
on its stand in the dining room
scratches out “La Vie en Rose”
by Marlene Dietrich.

That maroon Harvard banner
competes with an enormous turtle shell
for pride of place
on the cabin wall.

That pile of walleyes
spread out on newspaper
on the back stoop
is dinner.

That fillet knife slices
through thick white flesh,
while fish eyes stare blankly

That dented-up tackle box full of lures, jigs,
sinkers, spinners, bobbers,
leaders and hooks
nestles neatly
in the bow of the boat.

That stringer of crappies tied to the dock
will be turtle food if we don’t
bring them in before dark.

That ice box in the kitchen
needs a delivery tomorrow.
That bottle of “Old Sunnybrook” in the pantry
will take the chill out tonight.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Miss Reese

The room holds two pianos:
both baby grands.
I come here every Tuesday night
at seven. Although

I’m not supposed to,
I always take the short-cut
down the alley toward
Hubbard Park. I carry

my sheet music
and my dollar & a quarter,
let myself in, sit down
on a dingy-grey upholstered chair

in the living room.
Another student plays
ahead of me.
I wait my turn.

I sense movement
behind the dusty drapes that
separate this room from the parlor.
It’s the old woman, I’m sure:

Miss Reese’s ancient mother.
Hidden away like a bad report card.
Without smiling, Miss Reese dismisses
her other student and invites me

into the music room.
She dresses completely in black:
black dress, black stockings,
black old lady shoes. Her grey

hair pulls into a tight bun.
Her complexion is grey.
She wears no makeup,
but wears grey, pearl earrings.

She instructs me to play the piece
I practiced all week.
She sits to my right as I labor
over Bach’s Prelude Number 1 in C Major

from the Well Tempered Clavier.
Her lips purse in and out,
out and in,
like a metronome keeping time.

When I have finished playing,
she leaves the room without a word.
It takes her only a moment
to place the record on the turntable.

She reenters the room and instructs me to
“Listen to Prelude Number 1 in C Major as it
ought to be played. As Bach,
himself, might have played it.”

The ancient woman,
hiding behind the curtain,
listens, too.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Oh, Tiger

How could you do this to us?
How could you let us down this way?
Accenture has just dropped you like a
moldy bag of garbage
tossed out on the curb for pick-up.

And pick up you did.
Cocktail waitresses, for crying out loud.
Hostesses at private clubs,
Buxom porn stars,
Paid escorts,
Pancake house waitresses.
The bad news keeps on coming.

You’re still number one on the internet:
most frequently googled celebrity
currently mired in scandal.
Child protection investigators beating
on your door.
Sightings of Elin gassing up her SUV,
minus her wedding ring.
Rumors of divorce, pay-offs, and pre-nups.

Hell hath no fury, brother.
Didn’t you know that?
Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to put in writing
what you don’t want the whole world to see?

The world watches in bewildered amazement
as one mistress after another steps forward,
as if on cue,
to reveal shameful secrets while
grabbing their fifteen minutes of fame.

Why can’t we look away?
After all the tweeters and bloggers
and TV talking heads
and late night comedians
and pop psychologists and
sports broadcasters
and talk show hosts
have weighed in,
we stare, transfixed,
as a national treasure self-destructs.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Taxi Ride in San Miguel

The dinged up green taxi does an abrupt U-turn
in response to my hand-in-the-air signal.
The dark eyed, dark haired driver flashes
his perfect smile directly at me.

I muddle through my directions, in less
than perfect Spanish. He nods, understanding.
I settle myself in the backseat
and peer out the window. The taxi bounces

along on the narrow cobblestone streets,
dodging pedestrians, stray dogs, and other motorists.
Never meant for auto traffic, these winding passageways
thread relentlessly skyward toward the Parroquia.

We pass Parque Juarez, in all its formal splendor. Vendors
from the countryside have filled the park with flowers today.
The Candelaria Festival is underway, a partly Christian, partly pagan
holiday commemorating Christ’s birth and the fertility of seeds.

I spy a flower vendor, a young Mexican girl,
her hands full of white calla lilies.
I pinch myself. Can this be real?
Or am I staring at a Diego Rivera painting?

I pass a storefront, open to the street,
filled with roasting chickens on spits.
Thirty or more birds spiral in space
above a black, cast iron grill. I am suddenly starving.

We drive past the Buen Café, with its magnificent garden courtyard
and delectable cuisine. I am tempted
to stop to savor a glass of Aqua de Jamaica,
Mexico’s ruby red hibiscus flowers.

We are nearing the Parroquia, San Miguel’s most famous landmark.
This magnificent church, with its pink cantera stone façade,
rises to the heavens like a gothic, Disneyland castle.
A statue of Juan de San Miguel stands vigil out front.

I exit the cab, hand over 25 pesos, and look around. The well-
manicured Jardin stands directly before me.
Vendors approach with trinkets in their hands.
I suspect that most of these are made in China.

“No, gracias,” I say to those who approach me.
It’s hardest to ignore the children. They stare with imploring eyes.
Their mothers, dressed in sherbert-colored aprons, watch
and wait. How privileged I must appear to them.

In the garden a Mariachi band is playing.
Vendors selling corn on the cob and fruit cups
compete with ice cream sellers, scooping up
flavors like mango, avocado, and papaya.

Couples stroll through the square, holding hands.
I wonder where their chaperones have gone.
An artifact of an earlier age, perhaps. Pretty girls
with black, shiny hair link arms as they pass

me by. School age children, wearing matching green warm-up suits,
file through the square, accompanied by their teachers.
Mothers carrying babies are everywhere.
They all seem to own the same fleece blanket.

I wander through the Mercado.
Fresh fruits and vegetables tempt me to buy.
I linger at the stalls selling Talavera pottery.
I purchase a hand-woven rug, made in Oaxaca.

Time to leave; I know my way home.
I decide to walk, despite the cobble stones.
I head down Calle Jesus toward Parque Juarez.
I walk through the park so I can smell the gardenias.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I slather a thick layer of molding paste
on 140 pound hot pressed paper and
dig into it
with golf tees, combs, Afro picks
and my fingers.

Aboriginal marks, petroglyphs, ancient symbols
from the collective unconscious
come pouring out .
Pouring out of me.
Pouring onto the paper.

I tease apart some cheesecloth,
decoupling warp from woof,
to create whispy filaments
embedded in a strata
of heavy matte medium.

My spackling knife smears stripes of
alizerin crimson, transparent pyrole orange and cerulean blue.
Wild, frenzied colors evoking
jungle drums
and monkey screams.

Seed beads add sparkle.
I drop them into the gel medium
and watch them settle.
Then I shred and tear my fabrics and foils,
glue them to the surface,
add layers of leafing,
copper, silver, and gold.

A thin wash of interference gold paint
obscures the black gesso lurking underneath.
Mocking all physical laws, the reflected light
levitates off the surface of the sheet and
spirals into space.

Underlying silver leaf flashes like a
pogie near the pier.
Its submerged silhouette reveals itself
only if the light happens to catch it.

I have no preconceived plan,
no predetermined destination.
I charge down the path alone but
have no idea where it will lead me.
Nor will I be certain when I have arrived.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hello, Bombshell

That’s what the ad said
so I figured why not?
Why not me?

It’s four days before Christmas.
Kierland Commons is infested with
desperate shoppers.
I find a parking spot.
I walk into Victoria’s Secret.

The store is stuffed.
I look around.
Victoria looks a lot like
Frederick’s of Hollywood these days.

”Sexy little no-shows for less”
taunts one table.
“Fun and flirty underthings”
shrieks another.
I saunter over to the Sleepwear Section.

I fondle a few of the babydoll nighties
hanging on the rack.
I glance at a red satin bustier.
A leopard skin teddy lures me over.
I wonder who will buy the lace slip with garters.

On to the panty tables.
There are bikinis, boyshorts, briefs,
cheekies, hip huggers, thongs,
V-strings, garters and no lines.

The panty names are beyond fabulous:
Cheeky curved Hem Hipster, Jeweled V-string,
Peek-a-boo Garter Thong, Brazilian String Bikini,
Nicki the Magical Knicker,
and Fishnet Lace-up Cheeky Panty.

But I didn’t come here to buy panties.
It’s bras I’m after. Bombshell bras.
I’m here to find the new miraculous TM
push-up bra that adds two full cup sizes
for maximum cleavage.

I charge over to the bra counter.
As I wait for assistance,
I glance into a glass case labeled
Shapewear and Adhesives.
In the case are clear, gelatinous pouches
of …… what?
Saltwater? Silly putty? Jello?
There are shaping inserts, invisible uplift shapers,
invisible demi-bras, gel inserts, and
gel petals.

Collectively known as “chicken cutlets,” these
little marvels have been used by super models
for years. Now, at last,
they are available to the rest of us.

A frantic sales associate puffs over to me.
“How can I help?” she asks.
“I’m here to try on the new Miraculous Push-up Bra,”
I retort. “The one with twinned adjustable straps that
can also be worn halter or racerback. The bra that
sports underwire cups and is padded for ultimate lift:
Level 5.”

In the privacy of the dressing room,
I gaze at myself in the mirror.
A low whistle of appreciation escapes my lips.
“Hello, Bombshell.”

Monday, January 5, 2009


Held in Private Collection

Friday, January 2, 2009


Held in Private Collection

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lightning Bolt

Held in private collection