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Viewing Blog: Living it up in Bankrupt California!, Most Recent at Top
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Follows my family's journey from a small town in upstate New York, to a city in South America,( Bariloche, Argentina), and our adjustment back to the United States, in San Diego California
Statistics for Living it up in Bankrupt California!

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1. Tree Creatures and Naomi's 13

This week Naomi had her 13th birthday. As she recently became vegan I gave it my best shot at creating a vegan birthday cake.  It took me all day and three tries (with a minor disaster at the end, that involved chopping it up and covering large areas with strawberries)....

Here it is!! Fortunately it tasted good too. :)

Anyway, she's officially a teenager now.

We got her a guitar. She just started taking guitar at school and now she can practice at home. 

In other news I'm building these tree creatures for the "Flower Fantasy exhibit" at the Grand Avenue Festival. They will be added to the planters that line the street. I'm thinking I need to add some flowers to the design though, also I need to work around the plants that are already in the planters.

Chloe's been settling in to college and has been assigned her foster cat. She fosters a pet at the dorm and does some work at the shelter for a sizable grant towards tuition. She said cat "training" was just three hours of scooping litter. Anyway she said she'd send a photo of the cat when it finally emerges from under her bed.

Anyway have a fabulous Tuesday!

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2. Off to college and a comic about meat

At 4:15 am on Thursday I was awake and was off dragging Chloe out of bed and trying to keep up with Mike who sprung out of bed at the first blimp of the alarm. Mike and Chloe were headed to the airport, and flying to Missouri for "move in day" at the dorms.

Here they are in flight.

         After dropping them off I made my way out of the airport, and everything went south. I took the wrong elevator bank and wound up on the opposite side of the parking garage that is built to be a duplicate of the other side. I stood in the duplicate spot (where I was sure I'd parked) freaking out! The numbers were even rubbed off and repainted askew the same way as in the other lot in that row (all other rows are fine). I was sure the car was stolen. I called for help and basically this happens all day (and night long). They hire these people to drive lost travelers to their cars on the other side.  What's important though, is that they made their flight.

Hours later I was on the phone with Mike. They had rented a car with an awful GPS that was sending them 3 hours out of their way through some of the loveliest back roads Missouri had to offer (meanwhile Chloe was missing orientation.) So I sorted it out here on Google maps and navigated them back on track.

They made it though! They even wore the shirts they sent for move in day. :P

Chloe has already made a bunch of friends, and started classes today.

Here she is with her new roommate. They were both chosen to be part of the fostering program this year. Her campus is pet friendly and they have a program where the students who apply and get in are asked to foster an animal from the local shelter for a significant grant towards tuition/expenses.  Mike said there were many beautiful dogs moving in at the dorm. Chloe and her roommate will be getting their cats this week!

While Mike was traveling he was also promoting the last days of his kickstarter for a slightly disturbing comic about meat written by horror writer Cody Goodfellow.  It was a smashing success!

In other news my rabbit mask is on the cover of Adore Noir magazine this month. Photographer Sharon Covert did a whole series using my masks and they are featured inside as well. The photos are to be in another print magazine next month as well as in a gallery exhibit in LA. 

I'm continuing to promote my fundraiser for my artist residency in Morocco. This is my first residency and I truly hope everything falls into place to make it possible!

Have a fabulous Monday!

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3. The Sun

   It's always there. ALWAYS. The heat is bad this time of year, but it's the sunshine and the constant glare that pains me. Phoenix, you see is the second sunniest city in the world. THE WORLD. The sunniest one is just a few hours away in Yuma, Arizona.

When most people think of the sun it's like this.

When I think of the sun it's more like this.

The glare burns a hole in my head through my eyes as I scramble for my only protection... My $10 sunglasses. The light reflects off everything even the pavement for some reason, and then we hit November and the weather outside is pleasant all at once, but the sun still shines. My eyes hurt from it. My head hurts from it. On the other hand I don't want to live in the cold and the dark. There must be some middle ground.

This week Naomi and Phoebe started their new school, up in Glendale. It's called the Arizona Conservatory For Arts and Academics. Naomi has entered the middle school and is starting off with guitar and ballet as her arts choices and Phoebe is studying visual arts and advertising. They attend long days from 7:30am till 4pm, but the school has Fridays off so kids can come in for tutoring or rehearsals for any performance classes. They seem to be adapting well (especially to the 3 day weekend part).

Chloe opening gifts

The most incredible vegan chocolate cake made by Naomi for Chloe's big day.
    This week Chloe turned 18! On the morning of her birthday I said "Hey now you're 18!"
"Yes, now I can uuuuuh..."
"Well you can join the military."
"No, Mom, I have a heart murmur."
"Right, well, you can register to vote."
"I did that months ago...."
"Oh yeah, well, now  you can be prosecuted as adult!"
"YAY!" (then she rolled her eyes).

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4. A comic about meat and SDCC

Mike is home again now from San Diego Comic Con. He spent the week dressed as a chicken.... Really!

He's the one in the middle promoting his new project called "Mystery Meat" with writer, Cody Goodfellow (the pig man on the left). This is a link to the kickstarter, which is doing quite well as it just launched! 

Of course he did other things too. Like participate in the "Sketch-a-thon" over at the Cartoon Art Museum booth, and find publishers for a number of projects (which is great!).

I spent the week teaching kids and getting Phoebe over to her Theater intensive program at the Phoenix Theater downtown. She's in a production of Snoopy and working quite hard at it! Naomi's swim team is over so she been gearing up for her new school and Chloe's still in California camp counseling (is that a word? ), but she'll be home this weekend.

    In other news, photographer, Sharon Covert's mask series is being featured in Adore Noire magazine. She's including my credit for mask designs and had me describe my process for the magazine. Anyway I'm really excited!

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5. Mask making and Phoebe's trip to Seattle

With just a few classes on the weekend, this week's all about hiding inside for me. So I'm hiding from the heat and designing masks for my store.....

My desk is covered, and my storage bins are filling up! You can have one of these masks as your very own for a donation to my fundraiser for my Morocco residency! Check it out. :)

Last week Phoebe flew to Seattle on her own. Since she's 14, I could send her without signing her up for the minor traveling alone program where they guide the kids from one destination to the other, which adds a lot of cost to the ticket.  Unfortunately, after we left her at the gate in Phoenix she missed the announcement where they changed the departure gate and she missed her flight! The great thing was that she had to step up. She got herself booked on a new flight and over to the new gate and contacted us about the changes. Here she is in the Seattle airport.

She spent a week traveling around the city with her aunt and uncle!

All week they sent me some fabulous photos! Here they are on a ferris wheel by the waterfront.

Phoebe and Kristin by the waterfront.

And next to the ferris wheel!

They took the ferry to Whidbey Island.

Went to the Aquarium, hiking, and biking and of course the Space Needle.

In the end I'm pretty sure she had an amazing time!

Chloe left as well last week to be a camp counselor at a camp in the San Bernardino mountains in California. She doesn't send photos but she did call today, and said she was really enjoying working with the kids! 

In other news, our days inside resulted in a theft in our car. Everything was rummaged through and the GPS was gone. We seem to get robbed a lot at this point, but this is why we can't have nice things... Oh well. Stay cool and for everyone in the Northern Hemisphere who doesn't live in the freaking desert, enjoy the summer!

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6. Under the desert sun

The past week and half has been the usual for summer in Phoenix. Just "surface of the sun" weather. Step outside and get inside as fast as you can.  It's a tough place to come home to in the summer.

I've been consumed with running summer camps for Abrakadoodle, Inc. in Scottsdale. By the end of the week some of the kids were tired of face painting so we went with feet painting!

The kids LOVED it and we had a lot of fun!

It was a challenging week for teaching though. I teach at different sites all over the Valley and need to lug supplies with me. Generally not a problem but my rolling cart broke and I needed to move a lot of supplies under the desert sun.

I'm also still promoting my fundraiser for my artist residency in Morocco. There are many books and masks and even paintings available as gifts for anyone who donates (think of it as shopping!)

This is my frog mask that I just finished.

It's one of many masks you could choose from from my fundraiser!

Chloe and Heidi in Little Italy, San Diego

Chloe spent the last 10 days visiting her old friend Heidi in San Diego.  Heidi is a bit nutty and at one point signed them both up to volunteer at the Food Festival dressed as sushi for the day! I truly wish I had a photo of her as a sushi..... Anyway this morning I sit drinking one of the hundreds of packets of Thai coffee Heidi's family sent her home with. Like the package says "It's tasty AND delicious"!!

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7. A painful departure

For our last days in Mexico we explored the waterfront and pondered riding the horses that walked up and down the beach by our house. No one could agree when to go, and in the end we didn't do it... ( I know lame).

Checking out one of many vendors by the port. Probably one the only pictures of all three girls in one place I've seen in a long time!

The skulls on the sidewalk. These were so cool when I first saw them in a window, but then like many things for sale in these markets they lost their charm after seeing the same ones carried at five or six shops. At least in Argentina in the "mercado artesanal " the products were of a similar vein but they were handcrafted by each artist at the stalls.

The port was a busy place even when a cruise ship wasn't in town especially on the weekends. Families from all over the city came down to walk near the water and get dinner.

After walking in the sun for a few blocks we decided to duck into alley and found the fish market..

Mike and Oscar by the fish. Mexico is actually very dog friendly. Dogs can go on beaches, in restaurants and shops, as long as they stay leashed. We found this to be true here, in Puerto Peñasco, and in Juarez.

In the square a market had sprung up over night.

We milled around the market buying tamales and studying various crafts and products (mostly the same ones from the downtown area, but now in tents). There was also a little train going around for children, and these odd giant plush toys with wheels for children to ride.

Shopping in foreign supermarkets is something I actually enjoy doing a lot. It's surprising because I hate going to my regular supermarket.  Anyway we discovered that the banana code we punch in at our local Safeway is the same as the one the guy at the local market in Ensenada punched in to his register when we purchased bananas ... 4011. It turns out this is the international banana code for all supermarkets everywhere! 

In the supermarket I also came across these.... Chocolate surprise eggs!! My kids had an ongoing relationship with these when we lived in Argentina. They loved them! I insisted on buying a few as they are contraband in the US. Mike was sure the girls are too old and don't care anymore. Boy was he wrong -they were thrilled! They even liked the kiddie prizes inside.

Finally the moment came that we had to pack up and leave the house we'd been renting. Our cat vanished in the first 10 minutes of arriving the week before and we'd waited, and waited for her to return like she always did. She's a traveling cat and has been for a long time. We adopted her as a kitten when we lived in Bariloche, Argentina. She's slipped away on road trips before, in Sedona, the Grand Canyon and once right out of the car into the woods in Wisconsin, but Isabella always came back. Usually with a dead mole or a lizard. Anyway, we had to go and take solace in the fact that she's been micro chipped. Hopefully she's found a nice family in Mexico.

The ride out of town alternated between stunningly beautiful with views of the ocean and the mountains, and complete horror. At one point traffic slowed down as cars crept past an accident. There on the pavement was a motorcycle on it's side next to a body covered with a bloody sheet.
Then more miles of the beautiful coastline, till we cruised into Tijuana and saw an impoverished man in the street missing most of both his arms.

After getting lost in Tijuana on the way in I studied and studied the directions and even insisted we buy a map. Then of course everything was well marked and went completely smoothly. In no time we were waiting at "la linea" to get across the border. The man in the photo is a hat seller working the line.

Vendors walk up and down the line of cars while we wait. At first you groan, because you want to just cross and not be bothered, but then the hours tick by and you find yourself buying ice cream, and churros, and running out of pesos! In the end you're glad they are there to distract you from the crazy wait for crossing one of the busiest borders in the world.

After getting through to San Diego we met up with Mike's "step mother" Claudia. The plan had been to see his father Russ too, but Russ passed away earlier this month, so it was a very melancholy visit.

Then we dropped off Chloe at the house of an old friend from middle school. Heidi's high school graduation was the next day and Chloe was invited to go and stay for a visit.  From there we began the epic drive back to Phoenix. We rolled in to 108º heat at around midnight. Gotta love returning to Phoenix in the summertime!

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8. Wandering through museums and a "Fun run"

Cruise ships come in pretty regularly here, increasing the population in a sudden swoop!

This one swooped in early yesterday morning. I took this from our patio as I sipped my coffee.

After some pretty intense sunburns at La Bufadora we decided to stay inside and see some local museums. This giant torso is outside the local art center in town.

Mike and I by the massive mural at the art center.

This metal sculpture also decorates the courtyard.

They're huge and quite striking.

This wonderful mermaid adorns the lobby.

Chloe looking at art in the main gallery. Chloe's the only one of our kids who came with us the see the museums.

Honestly it was a very good show and I think they missed out, but Phoebe's not feeling well and is permanently connected to her ipad since we've arrived.

Nude with dove.

The artist was very surreal with some of his work.

I like the show quite a lot.

From here we walked over to the Cultural Center and the History Museum.

The grounds outside were quite pretty.

The history museum was full of twists and turns and had little peepholes in hidden corners that peered into a mysterious ballroom.

It of course had many historical exhibits.

Like this model of the "Santa Maria".

After spending time spying on people in the ballroom we headed back outside to see if it was part of the cultural center.

This building also had a collection of interesting sculptures out front.

Eventually we found the ballroom.

The art on the walls was unusual....

...But the ceiling was stunning!!! All in all a pretty successful outing. 

             Days on the beach have cause some crisis here and there. A few days ago Naomi went wave jumping near sunset and had her glasses knocked off her face and swept out to sea. Yesterday Oscar was stung by fire ants while walking on the beach and had to be carried home and the to the veterinaria. Fortunately that only cost a few pesos. 

 Mike and I are really enjoying our mornings in town. The kids sleep in every morning and we usually head out to a coffee shop. Early one morning we found this amazing doorway.

This morning we sipped our lattes and watched a marathon pass us by. It was a very flexible marathon as some people were wearing roller blades, walking dogs and pushing strollers.

Every morning we keep an eye and an ear out for our missing cat. Where are you Isabella?

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9. The Vanishing Cat and a Marine Blowhole

So our cat is still gone. We've searched this little neighborhood, put up signs and spoken to the neighbors. She's not in the walls or ceiling as the walls and ceiling are very thin and we can hear traffic and people talking and everything else, so the cat meowing would be very loud. The kids are very sad, Mike and I are pretty bummed about it and the dog could care less (in fact I'm not sure he noticed).

 On Wednesday we explored the tourist district of this seaside city.

Everywhere I look is "Super Viagra Man" with the bulging pants. 

Chloe and Mike in town by a massive Aztec calendar.

We found parrots out on the street near the art supply store.

This one really liked me, or at least he liked being called "Pretty Bird".

Yesterday, to make us all feel better I thought a day trip over to "La Bufadora" was in order. The city was quiet anyway with no cruise ships in town and the people who rent horses on the beach took the day off. So we drove down the coast and out the peninsula to the only marine water spout in North America.

Mike by the many vendors that line the little street as we approached "La Bufadora".

Finding the Blowhole store.

The ocean reaching inland near the water spout.

Approaching "La Bufadora".

Naomi rushed over.

And got drenched instantly.

Mike and I by "La Bufadora" (even soaking wet Naomi's pretty good with the camera!)

Mike, Chloe, Phoebe (and some guy who wouldn't step away for the photo) at the Ensenada sign.

Looking down over the edge when the water receded.

Everyone liked Oscar-including the local dogs.

The water just kept coming.

And Naomi just kept getting wetter and wetter, (too bad I loaned her my sweater).

Mike and Naomi.

From here we decided to head to the overlook spot.

From above you can see how high the water reaches. It's like an explosion.

The view was stunning.

The ocean from above.

On our way back down the girls found a creepy little troll. Naomi shook his hand and it fell off!

After getting drenched and walking around we found ourselves buying snacks ( Por supuesto!).

It was good to take a day out of town.

 Today the horses are back, and a big cruise ship pulled into town early this morning.

Maybe we'll finally take a ride on the beach.


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10. Driving to Mexico

Early Monday morning we packed up our car and headed into the desert towards the coast. On the way we passed many mysterious fires, like this one.

It was a rather epic drive and getting lost in Tijuana didn't help. We missed our turn and found ourselves in a little barrio on a dirt road. Mike and I split up and asked different people how to get back. We both came back with confusing doodled maps on scrap paper when one man took pity on us and offered to lead us out.

We followed him through crazy city streets, roundabouts and packed freeways. Finally we were on the Ensenada Scenic Route down the coast! Above is a giant Jesus perched near the ocean.

Riding along the coast was stunning, but another hour and a half in the car was a lot to take.

We stopped for gas at a 7eleven and this face of a building was behind it.

Finally we came to the little house we rented in Ensenada. As we unloaded the car we brought the cat and dog inside straight away. Unfortunately in the time it took to unload our cat went missing. We searched the house, the surrounding area and put up signs. She still hasn't turned up in 2 days.

The house has quite a nice patio.

The beach and the boardwalk are just across the road.

Every morning some people show up and line up about 15 horses.

They offer rides to beach goers.

They're beautiful animals but by evening there's an awful lot of horse manure on the beach.

We've done a lot of beach walking, but Naomi's the only one who's been brave enough to swim so far (It's pretty cold here for desert dwellers like us!)

I have found a number of sand dollars though, and these sandpiper birds were very funny to watch as the waves came in.

Mike and Oscar on the beach.

A beach vendor, bringing snacks and knickknacks.

Yesterday evening we went to town to get dinner.

The park had some interesting statues.

Mike Naomi an Oscar by the Giant golden heads.

Not sure whose heads they are but they seemed like they were important.

A cruise ship was docked in the port. They come and go every day.

This is our neighbor's fish. I photographed it in our ongoing search for the cat. Hopefully she'll turn up soon, we're all pretty upset about it....

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11. Gone

This week started with our wedding anniversary.  My daughter, Phoebe, made us a chocolate espresso mousse cake (twice... the first one collapsed).

In the end it was awesome... And meant we had a frightening amount of chocolate cake in the house!

Then Tuesday afternoon we learned that Russ Dubisch, my father-in law had suffered a fatal heart attack.

Russ in New York, with Phoebe, Naomi and Mike
He was a genius. He worked at NASA in the space program, and was a physics professor at Sienna College for years and years. Then came the brain eating monster we call Alzheimers.... Watching him leave piece by piece has been terrible. He is missed.

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12. The Graduates

On Monday night Chloe walked across the stage at the Orpheum Theatre downtown and received her high school diploma!  I admit I got a little teary, but no one ever mentions that getting your kids through the first 12 years of school (oh yeah-13 counting kinder), feels like as much of an accomplishment as when you did it yourself! All those early mornings of dragging kids out of bed, struggling through math (or any other subject) lessons with them, dealing with bullying, finding the "right" school, ugh ... It just goes on!

The ceiling of the Orpheum is painted like a sky with stars and looks rather stunning.

The audience coming in.

Chloe onstage with the other grads.

Getting her diploma. She also received the literary arts award which was a huge honor and came with a $150 grant from her school. 

The candle light ceremony at the end.

 Mike and Chloe outside the theater afterwards.

The very next night was Phoebe's promotion/graduation from Madison #1 Middle School.

Phoebe and her friend Nina after the ceremony.

The graduation cake! Congratulations girls!!

In other news I finished my sketch for my Morocco residency....

Drawing for "Night over Tétouan"- my planned sculpture installation.  Right now I'm trying to raise the funds for myself and my family to get the rabies vaccine before we leave. It costs $250 a dose and each of us need 3 doses ... costing $3750! Anyway here's my Gofundme (that's going quite badly so far, but fingers crossed that we won't have to go and risk it!)

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13. Naomi's off to the Grand Canyon and a life changing opportunity

Early yesterday morning we dropped Naomi off at her school at 4am and put her on a bus with 100 of her classmates....

The sixth grade class gathered at predawn to head north on a visit to the Grand Canyon.

 Naomi and Kari taking selfies on the bus!

Arriving at the canyon...
 The ranger explaining not to feed the squirrels.

 One of Naomi's perfect canyon photos...

Naomi at the canyon.

Naomi with Nathanial.

A perfect day at the canyon.

 In other news, I've been invited to an artist residency in Morocco for next summer (2017)!! It's an amazing opportunity for me and huge for my career. My project is to create a small scale cityscape of my host city, of Tétouan, Morocco, complete with glowing windows and and a massive moon and stars that hang above. The installation is called "Night over Tétouan"

Moon and stars piece.

My thumbnail of the installation. The city will be 3d not a silhouette  like in the drawing.
I'll need to get some rooftop photos to create it though.

It's an opportunity to share my art with people from very different cultures. I will be working with local high school students who come by the studios and through my installation I hope to reach out to the local community. While the residency is already partially funded and I've already covered some expenses I still need to raise more funds to cover incidentals and a bunch of vaccines needed to travel to Africa.  Anyway I just set up a Gofundme here!

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14. Visiting Biosphere 2

Last week was my birthday, but with Chloe's prom and many other things going on, we decided to celebrate this weekend. So I grabbed the groupon I purchased for a trip to Biosphere 2 and we all headed down there on Saturday!

Here's Mike milling around the visitor's center... If Biosphere 2 is in Oracle, Arizona where is Biosphere 1 you ask? Well you're in it, it's planet earth.

On our walk to find our tour group.

 Still looking for the door.

Looking into the rainforest section.  Biosphere 2 has a variety of habitats, the rainforest, the savannah, the desert etc.

Still looking for that door.

Hey we found the hatch to go in! And our tour group was right inside.

So now we headed to the rain forest.

On the way we past the ocean.

Looking at the ocean.

In 1991 a crew of scientists were sealed inside the Biosphere for 2 years to see if all their needs could be met, including oxygen, which turned out to be the problem. Anyway they obviously needed some frankencense, because who doesn't?

Entering the rainforest.

Boats in the ocean.

 Inside the rainforest (it was a bit crowded).

Staircase down to the ocean.

Out thru the window.

Walking through the savannah habitat.

Here we are entering the desert region, which unlike the desert outside was surprisingly windy and comfortable.

The octopus cactus.

Listening to the guide about the incubators in the experiment on the balcony.

This was when things got really interesting. They took us below to see the underworkings of the site. Here we are walking through the desert basement. 

Next we headed to the south lung... This journey included traversing  many, many tunnels.

Inside the tunnels.

Mike taking selfies in the tunnel.

The tunnel gets smaller.

 Mike in the smaller tunnel.

Finally at the lung!

This room was massive and VERY echoy. The lung was the massive disk attached to rubber that moved up and down with the air pressure. It was actually pretty amazing.

Finally time to exit.

Through this hatch was a blast of air to get through to the outside.

From here we walked out on the grounds.

Phoebe waiting for the tour guide.

Mike and I.

 An arabian water marker-it has a better name, but I forget what the tour guide called it.

We also had a chance to see the lunar greenhouse.

This is a prototype of what will be sent to the moon once a long term facility is established.

Naomi walking outside.

This is the kitchen for the Biosphere crew.

Chloe standing in the kitchen.

Staircase to crew quarters. They really had a great place to stay. They said that every six days each crew member had to make dinner, breakfast and lunch for everyone. Bad cooks had to learn fast because they had limited ingredients that they grew and no way to "save" lost food with seasonings.

It was a pretty amazing place and it makes me want to see that crazy movie with Paulie Shore from years ago.




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15. Senior Showcase and prom

Last week we went to the Senior Showcase at the Metropolitan Arts Institute. 

Chloe and the other seniors had big displays of their art.

Chloe also had many of her poems up.

 Students at the show.

Also last week. Chloe and her classmates geared up for their prom.

Chloe and her friend Katie before the prom.

Chloe... Ready for prom!!


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16. Drawing Cats in Glendale

This weekend Mike and Naomi left for L.A. to go to the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulucon. Mike had numerous events he was involved in, Naomi really likes movies, and someone had to deliver my mask for the show....

Here's Mike organizing his things before he headed out. 

In the mean time I was booked to draw my painting "Cats in The Orange Tree" for the Chalk Art festival in Glendale....

This painting is one that's part of a permanent collection in a gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia now, but I painted it for an exhibit there last May. 

Phoebe came with me and worked as my assistant all day. She was great and compensated for the fact that I was wiped when I arrived that morning. I had gotten up at 5am to complete and ship a rush commission on a raccoon mask. 

I really did like working at the Westgate Entertainment Center in Glendale. They checked on me frequently to see how I was, and even gave us an awning which helped us so much from the sun.

This is where we stopped at lunch. It was about now that it began to sprinkle.  Yes- it was raining!! In Phoenix!! So now I was REALLY happy about our awning. When it comes to chalk art, I don't care if it gets washed away, I just want the chance to finish it!

Here's Phoebe working on the blue while I took a break.

Once I drew in those cats, the public became quite unpleasant to be around. We had people watching and meowing at us for almost three hours while we finished. I will never draw cats in public again.

Here it is finished!!

Here it is from the side. As you can see I had a half bricks/half concrete surface. I think we pulled it off okay though! An hour after we left, Glendale was hit with some downpours. If this isn't gone by now I'm sure it's very blurry!

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17. The Wibler Whately Mask and driving lessons

For the last couple of weeks I've been slowly building the largest mask I'd ever been commissioned on....

It's a Wilber Whately Mask. This is a creature from H.P. Lovecraft's writings and will be part of a two person costume for a performance in LA.

It's supposed to be a mutant baby face, and look very grotesque. 

The rest of the costume is being constructed in LA for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival next weekend. Mike and Naomi are attending and will deliver it for me. 

While they're at the film festival, Phoebe and I will be recreating my painting "Cats in the Orange Tree" as a large chalk mural up at the Westgate Entertainment Center in Glendale for the citywide Phoenix Chalk art Festival. This is one of the hardest festivals because the city has started heating up. Usually it's in the mid nineties and we spend part of the day in the sun.

Also next weekend Chloe will be directing her play. She's one of the directors of the five minute film festival at her school. Hopefully I'll get lots of pictures!  

The last few weeks we've started teaching Chloe to drive. I've been nervous about it, as the first day I drove, I mixed up the pedals and slammed the family car into the tree in our front yard. My dad cracked the windshield with his head and the whole front end was destroyed.... So Chloe took her time learning to drive and we hired an instructor for her first time out. 

Unfortunately for her first drive it turned out she was suffering from a full blown case of strep throat and was a bit delirious. The second time I took her, and she found the brake and used it... A lot, but that's better than slamming on the gas. Mike took her yesterday and he said she's pretty good, so I guess she's getting better fast, but the experience of teaching a teen to drive in our only vehicle has been agonizing. Anyway since she's heading away for college in the fall I want her to have some driving experience. Possibly even a license! I wish this city didn't have quite so many crazy drivers though....

In other news Mike's comic " I am a Barbarian" debuted on The Edgar Rice Burroughs site at EdgarRiceBurroughs.comhttp://www.edgarriceburroughs.com/comics/

 It looks fantastic and a new page goes up every week in English and Spanish!!

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18. Covered in blue

Beneath The Waves by Carolyn Watson Dubisch
Early Saturday morning, Mike, Naomi and I set out for Tucson to work The Park Place Chalk Festival. I'd been selected to recreate my painting "Beneath The Waves" at the event. This painting was inspired by my friend, Blaire Allen's story of rowing in New York Harbor when a massive sea turtle swam under his tiny boat, so I was enthusiastic about creating a huge version for the public.

Since I'd only had my surgery 10 days ago, Mike wanted to come and help to make sure I was alright. Naomi agreed to assist as well, so I had a team this time! This was my space when we arrived.

We'd already done so much by lunch with 3 of us! 

This was a good thing, though, because for the first time since I'd started doing these chalk events we were expecting rain on Sunday! Better to get as much done as we could.

Anyway, after lunch we decided to walk around and see other artists and some of the public drawings...

This is the Kid's Zone.

 Gina Ribaudo's horse mural.

I loved this chameleon.

A fabulous elk by Matt Cotten.

This "Starry Night" was recreated by a member of the public!

 More great art by the public.

After lunch all three of us started in with the blue. This image had A LOT of blue water and we were all very, very blue by mid afternoon.

       One thing that was interesting is that most people wanted to talk to Mike. They thought that of course the man that was here was in charge. I didn't care that much, but Mike muttered a lot about our sexist society. 
   Anyway people liked to talk to me at the mural, but when I wandered through the mall to wash up in the ladies room covered in blue chalk, most people quickly steered their kids away when they saw me coming.
This is where we ended on Saturday. We didn't leave much for Sunday because of the coming rain.

This other artist from Phoenix finished Saturday night she was so worried about the storm.

Ignacio also finished his 3D ant that night, but said he'd come back to photograph it melting in the rain.

This is our closest neighbor to our spot. Stan worked on his 3D shoes until midnight on Saturday so he'd finish in time before the downpour. They look fabulous. He also brought plastic and gave us some to cover it when we finished.

Here we are finishing on Sunday,

Cleaning up at the end.

The finished mural, "Beneath The Waves"

Close-up of Mike's awesome boat!

Mike and Naomi at the end.

Mike pulling tape.

Naomi at the end.

Signed by all of us.
We left it uncovered for a while, but with the storm coming we had to cover it before we left....
As we drove out of town the rain hit us fast and hard and two hours later we were drenched running in from the car to our front door back in Phoenix.

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19. Under the knife

This week I had my first ever MRI, which if you've never had one my advice is say "Yes, I'm claustrophobic!",  because if you aren't you will be by the end of it all. When I was in the ER a few weeks ago they had found a lump on my liver, and now I know that that lump is BENIGN!! YAY! When my mother was my age she'd already been fighting cancer for 5 years, so I pretty much thought this might be it for me....

On Wednesday they removed my gallbladder. It's an out patient procedure, but it's been a painful recovery so far. I made the huge mistake of watching a vid of the procedure on Youtube yesterday. Never, ever do that!! There was a lot of horrible ripping going on with serrated, metal clamps....UGH!

During recovery I have some art commissions to keep me distracted, and today I'm trying to get off the narcotics they prescribed me and stick with ibuprofen (still hurting quite a bit though). I need to be back teaching though next Thursday and a week from tomorrow I'm booked in Tucson for a chalk festival event. Should be no problem, creating chalk murals is only insanely physically grueling....Crap.

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20. Chloe's journey to Greece and upcoming events

This has been spring break for my kids all week long. Chloe left for her big trip to Greece with her class early last Saturday morning.

We worked hard to make the payments for her trip of a lifetime. Someday we can only hope to see Europe as well....

Here she is on the right, writing in her journal at dinner on the cruise ship that toured the Greek islands.

Looking groggy as they tour a site on one of the islands.

It looks like an amazing trip.

I'm sure we'll hear all about it on Monday when we pick her up.

She did tell us though that she was down to only five euros for the next few days! They sabotaged her by stopping in at a book store. At least some of her meals are pre-paid!

In other news I've been selected to recreate my painting "Beneath The Waves" at the Park Place Chalk Art festival in Tucson. The event is April 9 and 10th. Hopefully this will all work out as I'm meeting with my surgeon this week to schedule my gallbladder removal very soon. With any luck I'll be up and recovered enough to pull it off!

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21. The Mutant Piñata Show, a day in the ER and a return to the Renaissance Fair

Last Friday night was the opening of "The Mutant Piñata Show" at the Chartreuse Gallery downtown.

And this is me, posing with my submission, "Kissy Fishy". I was thrilled to discover she had sold when I arrived at the show.

Apparently the buyer will be hanging her from the high ceiling of his townhouse!

The show had some great submissions. Naomi liked the ugly faced fish.

Not all of them hung up!

This flower one was awesome.

It's an excellent show this year and is up for the rest of the month!

Saturday morning I woke up with A LOT of pain. I've been in and out of urgent cares for a while now trying to figure out what was going on. This time I went to the ER. I was there all day getting tests. Finally I know that I have gallstones and need an operation. There's also a small mass on my liver so more tests for that. Unfortunately my doctor can't even see me until March 21st when he'll refer me to a surgeon, then I need an appointment with him... this is all going to take a while. 

Since I'm not one to hide out because of some pain (also the ER gave me drugs), we went to the Renaissance Fair the very next day!

Of course, straight away we headed to the bathrooms.

Quite honestly this was the perfect day for the fair. Not too hot and even some clouds in the sky.

A nice quaint shot of the village ruined by the lady on the left staring at her cell phone.

This is a man who did sculptural portraits while you sit for 15 to 20 minutes. It was pretty amazing.

Mike and I handed the kids some cash and wandered the fair alone. Keeping track of three teens in this setting was such a headache last year! This worked so much better!!

Me by the climbing wall.

Here you can see the pretty canyon behind the fair. Arizona is always a stunning backdrop!

One of the "processions".

We met up with the kids at the joust. This is the red rider that we cheered for incessantly.

This is the blue rider who we passionately booed at (except for Phoebe who felt bad). This was decided by our seating, we sat in the red section. :) Anyway our guy won!!

A long day at the fair was well spent. Have a fabulous week.

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22. Finishing the fish

So this week I finished my fish.

Here she is in my living room getting some detail painting.

Mike working at his desk in the background.

Out on my patio finally done.

She'll be dropped off at the gallery on Tuesday and the opening is Friday!!

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23. Kissy Fishy and a trip to Catalina Island

On Tuesday night, Phoebe left with her class for a big trip to Catalina Island with her science class.

They drove through the night on the bus and took the boat from Long Beach in California in the morning.

This is a picture of many of the kids on the boat.

Phoebe was pretty excited about going. 

Sunset from Catalina Island
They're itinerary includes snorkel training, then night snorkeling, and kayaking. She's studying sharks today and I hear they will even get to "pet" them (hopefully that will go well!). I'm so glad the school gives my kids these kinds of opportunities.

In the mean time, I'm trying to complete my sculpture, "Kissy Fishy" for the show at the Chartreuse Gallery. 

Here it is before I added the lips.

Before paint.

Starting to paint.

Finishing the base coat.

Anyway the deadline for the Mutant Piñata Show is next week and this year I've been pretty swamped with mask making and commissions, so this has been feeling pretty tight. I'm sure I'll be done though.

In other news, this is me posing with one of the masks I dropped off at the Practical Art Gallery. They have many of my masks on display. Also one of my most regular customers, Sharon Covert of Sharon Covert Photography, sent me more of her incredible portraits with my masks...

With the Queen of Hearts Mask
The Moon Mask

The Cecropia Moth Mask

The last one of the moth is a special commission I made for her. Her photos came out incredible!


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24. The Chocolate Festival and a Weekend in California

The weekend before last we managed to get out to Glendale and visit their annual Chocolate 

As usual my kids act incredibly goofy when we go out as a family. Here they are posing with the birdman statue in the park.

It was actually a pretty packed event.

Once the sun started setting the whole park was lit up in pretty lights.

And did I mention? There was chocolate!!

Last week I was sent some photos of my masks at the John Varvatos fashion show in NYC. The event was called "Rock is Dead" and he has a very excellent video of it up online at JohnVarvatos.com!  Right now I'm working on a custom mask commission I look forward to sharing and my giant fish is coming along.  Also I'm starting a children's book job that's making some progress. All of it had to be set aside this weekend however as Mike's Dad is really sick with Alzheimer's and getting worse and we needed to head out to California to visit.

So we set off heading west to San Diego.

Here are the girls at the Indian Restaurant in Old Town where we all tried to eat out with his father, and his father's wife and caretaker, Claudia.

This is Mike at the restaurant, he looks happy even though moments later his Dad started pacing and trying to leave. He's not on any drugs to control his issues so he gets agitated.

Eventually we all just had to get the order to go and eat in our hotel room, where he couldn't escape. He finally had a moment where he responded to Mike and here he is giving his Dad a hug. This is a miserable illness and he's declined a lot in the last few months. It was a very sad visit.

This morning we decided to walk the pier in Ocean Beach before leaving town.

I didn't go down onto the beach because I knew dogs weren't allowed and we had Oscar with us. What I didn't realize was that they weren't allowed on the pier and we were kicked off the moment we climbed the stairs to it.

So we just kept walking to the end of the boardwalk. 

They we headed out onto the rocks that extended over the water.

The rocks were full of interesting carvings.

The kids tried to add their own as it was just super packed sand that got washed over at high tide. After walking around a bit we hit the road back to Phoenix. On our way home we decided to try stopping at the Desert View Tower in In-Ka-Po park. 

It's about an hour out of San Diego off of 8 west, in the middle of the boulder encrusted mountains.

Here I am walking towards the building. There were people and dogs everywhere.

We went inside to buy "tickets" to the viewing observatory and to the "caves" next to the site.

Here are the girls at the top of the tower. We also brought the dog up here, as we were told he was welcome inside the gift shop and everywhere on the property off-leash if we wanted.

Looking down from the top.

Phoebe and Chloe in the tower.

Naomi in the tower.

Mike using the telescope.

Mike and I at the top!

Interesting masks in the stairwell.

Another interesting mask.

A model of the Desert View Tower inside their gift shop.

In fact their museum/gift shop was home to many unusual things.

Oscar and I at the entrance to the caves. This is when I decided to let him go "off-leash".

Mike posing with some rock sculptures.

The rock lizard.

Mike in the cave wall.

Our cave selfie.

Oscar was enjoying running around inside the caves.

The Indian head carving in the rocks.

This is most likely when I got this sunburn I'm now sporting.

The rock monster.

Me (and Oscar). We were actually having a lot of fun exploring these caves!

Here you can see the tower in the distance.

Another face in the rocks!

Mike in the caves.

This place was the perfect remedy for this difficult trip!

Chloe on the rocks.

So many funny sculptures!!

All of us heading back out of the caves.

We slowly climbed out while Oscar ran ahead and then would suddenly stop and turn around looking for us. It was a great stop especially if you're traveling with a dog!!

Anyway, we're home now so back to the real world....

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25. So Freaking Busy

The mask making thing has me spinning these days. Last Friday I overnighted these three masks to NYC to be part of a John Varvatos fashion show!! So cool, but I haven't got any photos to share yet, hopefully my buyer will send me some. :)

In the meantime I did get more photos from my favorite photographer who's been buying my masks pretty regularly...

©Sharon Covert
This is by Sharon Covert with my blue flower masquerade mask, and this one is with my witch queen mask....
©Sharon Covert
I shipped off my first Mardi Gras sale to New Orleans yesterday morning and I'm meeting with a local gallery on Tuesday about showing some of my masks there (fingers crossed).

This weekend I'm starting a new children's book job hopefully all will go well, and have started my big fish sculpture for a different gallery show next month.

Mike is also swamped as his new semester teaching art is starting and he's plotting his next kickstarter for his new project "Mystery Meat". Plus he's working on a book cover job, promoting his own etsy store, and working on "I am a Barbarian". A comic by Edgar Rice Burroughs that will be up soon on this site and run monthly.

In the meantime Chloe has managed to get her driver's permit and is all over us to show her how to drive. I'm only a little terrified as the first time I sat behind the wheel I plowed the family car into a tree, and cracked my Dad's head against the windshield. She's also directing a play for the 10 minute play festival which is pretty cool. Phoebe is anxiously deciding on a high school for next year and Naomi is contemplating dying her hair blue. At least I'm not sick anymore.

Anyway we've been working so constantly I've been thinking we should go to that Chocolate Festival up in Glendale this weekend. It would be good to get out and eat some chocolate...mmmmmm.....chocolate.

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