Pugs and Pics

Writing, Art & Photography

Pysanky Eggs

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Last weekend my best friend and I took a workshop at a local craft center on how to make Pysanky or Ukranian Easter Eggs. I babbled away through most of it, nervous as usual as I learned the process. In the beginning I covered way too much of my egg with beeswax leaving lots of white underneath, but I got the hang of it and enjoyed the rest until I got to the final stages of removing the wax off the egg. It took forever to get the stuff to come off and I think my design may have been to intricate, because I was left with little colored blotches and smeared wax. I think I may have cooked my egg, I held it so close to the flame. Still, in spite of all the little imperfections, I seemed to get it right. I had a lot of fun!

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The Death and Rebirth of Mother


Those of you who know me or read this blog may be familiar with the special relationship I have with my GPS, the miraculous device I call “Mother” because of the gentle and sometimes not-so-gentle guidance she provides—take the next left, take the next left! But seriously, before Mother came along I lived in fear of traveling anywhere—of course I did, leaving for assignments, ample maps and directions and still getting lost with sweaty palms and often tears on old dirt roads in the middle of nowhere or worse on a highway with four lanes of traffic and no option to bail.

But big road trips? The ones filled with possibility instead of dictated by responsibility? Those I avoided—they were the great unknown. Then came Mother, plug in a destination and she takes you there, get lost and she reroutes you. It was the salvation I was looking for and I converted from reluctant traveler to albeit technology dependent gypsy wanderer. Sure, I admit Mother didn’t always get it right, there was that cowpath she led me to on the way to a meeting of the Hubbard Hall Writers’ Group, but that was largely because Mother had a fluke—map updates sent her into a tizzy, so I had to be content with her original knowledge, which for my purposes was extensive and with her I was never alone.

Mother died on Thursday just before my annual trip to Woodstock. Actually, she probably died earlier than that—hidden away in permanent slumber in the dark catacombs of my glove compartment, but I only noticed before my trip. Sure I’ve been coming to Woodstock for the last four years, generally knew the way, but to me this crisis was tragic. There was no way I could travel without Mother. Already late, I had to reroute my trip, heading int he opposite direction to buy a Mother replacement at the closest Best Buy. $174.00 later I came out with a new Mother, affectionately called “Ma” and a service plan in case she break down. Ma is bigger and supposedly better than Mother—I’ll let you know—we are just getting acquainted, but already I know she is a comfort.

I called my friend Joan who seems to find getting lost an adventure and shared my story. She, who has no cellphone or even access to google maps, seemed shocked. What did you do before? she asked. I didn’t go anywhere I admitted. I mean I traveled with you, but not on my own. My other friends have commented on my new found confidence once Mother came into my life.

Unfortunately, I think I’ve been waiting for Mother in other areas of my life as well—someone to show me which way to go and then I’d be off and running, someone to reassure me when I find myself in the all-too-overwhelming, fast-moving, incomprehensible traffic of life. I’m not looking for someone to tell what to do, just point me in the right direction. But I’m not crazy or helpless, I want freedom and freewill. I want adventure, but just a a padded unknown, something soft to fall on when I get a little nervous—a confident voice that reminds me I can take the next left since I can’t find that at the local Best Buy, I set out on my adventures with the hope the nudge and netting will be there when I need it and I look for support along the way—mentors, friends, road signs—help is usually there when you need it. Part of growth I guess is learning to mother yourself and I am learning, choosing new directions left and right (pun intended!) But, when it comes to actual road travel don’t expect me to abandoning “Ma” anytime soon—some things are too good to be true—all that guidance in the palm of my hand!

And, the winner is…

Mat 15 Collage Easter Bunny copy

I’m pleased to announce that the winner of my Easter Bunny collage is Linda Viehweg. Congratulations, Linda! Thank you to all who participated and don’t forget to spread the word. We will be launching another give-a-way on the first Monday of next month in which you have a chance to win a work of art by one of our participating artists:

Jon Katz

Maria Wulf

Rachel Barlow

Jane McMillan



Daily Habits

28 Portfolio Whirling Dervish

The pugs hear my approach and began to rattle the wire door of their x-pens. Time for our nightly ritual. A bone and venison snack delivered to them once we all have settled on the sofa. They squeal and do concentric donut circles—smaller Waffles spinning inside bigger Alfie’s trajectory in uninhibited anticipation. I grab my water bottle and computer, sometimes a snack and make my way to the sofa, careful not to trip on these whirling dervishes.

I think perhaps this is why dogs and humans originally clicked, those wolf pups coming in from the cold and into the caves, because we are both creatures of habit in love with the familiarity of our rituals. The bone at night, a warm nose nudging our cheek in the morning. Forget the rooster or the sun, we set our time by each other. We crawl into the do-it-again moments of each other’s lives, wearing away uncertainty, creating lives as comfortable as an old shoe.

My pugs and I curl into each other on the sofa becoming one heartbeat as their bones are chewed and finished. I rest in their snores at day’s end and think, I remember this, it feels right.

April 2014 Common Thread Give-a-way

Mat 15 Collage Easter Bunny copy

It’s time for the Common Thread Give-a-way again and just in time for Easter! This time I’m the featured artist and I am offering an Easter-themed photo collage I call “Easter Bunny.”

It’s always fun to hear what others have to say about your work and when Maria Wulf saw this one she called it wild. Jane McMillan did a write up on her blog that really captures the essence of this collage. She notes that the piece captures a “child’s innocence and total abandon.” Plus, you gotta admit there’s something a little weird, wild, and disconcerting about the idea of a giant bunny that sneaks in and leaves eggs in the night. Confusing?!

Seriously though, like most of my work this piece indeed deals with childhood and what lies beyond, that wild cusp of imagination and the uncertainties of adulthood that a child lives on. It is a fine and sometimes frightening line, full of possibility. I hope you enjoy exploring this piece as well. It is an 8 x 10 print on watercolor paper, comes ready to frame.

To win, just leave a comment here on the blog between Monday and Wednesday. The winner will be announced on Thursday. Also, don’t forget to check out the work of the other participating artists. Rachel Barlow just released her second short story for sale; in addition to his already prolific blog posts and photographs, Jon Katz has been doing some thought provoking work on the carriage horses in New York City; Maria Wulf has some new drawings for sale and I think I saw some Easter-themed pin cushions on Jane’s page. I may be a little biased but I think we are a pretty diverse and creative bunch. So check us out, leave a comment and one of you will be a lucky winner.