anonyrrie: August 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

No Time to Doodle

There was an era in my life when I actually had time during the work day to cover my desk blotter with doodles. I'd start with a fresh green or brown blotter, vowing to keep it pristine and businesslike, but inevitably after a day or two, an eyeball or a star or a heart would appear. After that...well, I knew it was a lost cause. Whenever I had some down time, or whenever I needed a break, I'd add to the picture. Eventually the entire blotter would be covered with faces and lines and comets and creatures, all done in micro pens, pencil and white-out. The picture above contains pieces of two blotter doodles from several years ago. These days...well, I don't have a blotter and I just don't have time to doodle at work.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Illustration Friday - Dreams

Daydreams are the secret gifts we give ourselves...
We grow the seeds that are planted in sleep,
We nurture them as they sprout,
Marvel at them as they grow large,
Prune them when they become too unruly,
Revel in the beauty of their blossoming flowers,
Delight in the fruit that they bear.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Reunion Tour 2005

Dear Lulu,'s been a long time since I've written, but you know how it goes. I've been so swamped...between work and the kids and my book club and my Master Gardener classes (to name just a few things)... well, time just seems to fly by. I hope you and Humphrey and the kids are all doing well. Give them my love and some big hugs and kisses!

So, you're never going to believe the weird things that have happened over the past few months! Justin and I have gone to a few "nostalgia" rock shows...they're so much fun...and at each show I've managed to run into someone you and I knew from good old Waring High School, home of the "Smoothies." I was pretty floored the first time, but it actually happened four times. Too bizarre!

Remember Wren? You know, that skinny vegetarian hippie chick who used to always say, "You're lucky you're organic" every time someone missed the trash can? I saw her last winter at a Tom Jones concert! Okay, before you start laughing, I'm just going to tell you that we only went for the laughs. Really. But you know, he was good! And he had an excellent band. Anyway, I practically sat on her lap trying to get into my seat. Yep...she was sitting in an aisle seat in the same row as us. She's divorced and teaching yoga at a health club, still doing the vegetarian thing, and way into all this crunchy stuff like meditation and aromatherapy. But check this out...she was dressed in this tiny black pleather miniskirt with fishnets and stretch pleather boots, and she was wearing a dog collar! I kid you not. She made a point of telling me that the skirt and boots were vegan, but the dog collar? Do they even make vegan dog collars? So, Tom played all his old favorites like "Never Fall In Love Again" and "Deliah," and when he began "What's New Pussycat," Wren jumped out of her seat and started bumping and grinding her way down to the stage, twirling a pleather thong over her head! I'm assuming it was pleather, because I didn't see her for the rest of the evening to ask. What a scene! Along with the usual women hurling sexy lingerie at Tom, there were grandmas throwing industrial strength bras and girdles, and even some guys throwing their underwear. Whoa! Well, I did exchange numbers with Wren, but I haven't heard from her.

The next concert we went to was Judas Priest. They're back together with Rob Halford for their Angel of Retribution tour, so we just had to see them! You know us...we're into "Breakin' the Law," ha ha... Anyway, we were getting into the parking garage elevator, and this woman who looked like a groupie was running towards us, dragging some guy with a mullet and a beer belly, yelling, "Hold the door! Hold the door!" I was thinking (to myself, of course) "WTF?" until I realized who it was... you guessed it! Roxanne! How many times did we run into her in the girls' bathroom while she was sobbing hysterically about how she was going to break up with Billy and rip the hair out of some girl he talked to in the cafeteria? I always wondered how she could cry like that and smoke cigarettes at the same time... Well, she didn't break up with him - she married him! And they have two sons who are also married, and one of them just had his first baby, a little girl. Guess that's what happens when you get married right out of high school, huh? She's hasn't changed a bit either, unless you count the boob job, the tattoo (butterfly on the right breast...I wonder if she got that before or after the boob job...wouldn't the needle puncture the implant?), and the hair extensions. She's been making goth jewelry and selling it at the tanning salon where she works.

I know you're probably thinking this is pretty outrageous, seeing both Wren and Roxanne within the space of a few months, so you probably won't believe that I also saw Rhonda at a Beach Boys' concert. The Beach Boys' show was really fun! It was held on an outdoor stage on a warm summer night...just the perfect setting. We brought our wine and picnic dinner (there's this awesome gourmet place near us that makes special take-out dinners for the outdoor shows) and were having the nicest time until I heard someone behind us hissing at her husband. She was saying something like, "Just don't make a fool of yourself! It's fine if you want to dance, but don't wave your hands around! I don't want anyone to think you're drinking too much." You know me, I had to check that out! To tell you the truth, I wasn't really that surprised to see good old "Soccer Rhonda." Remember how we used to joke about how well she protected her "goal"? What a priss! And there she was in all her glory: pink polo shirt with a little embroidered frog, madras bermuda shorts with a whale belt, pearls, a perfect french manicure, and that hairdo. Why doesn't her hair ever move? She looked really embarrassed at first, but then introduced us to her husband, Tripper. He's some big executive at an insurance company or something. Funny, but by the end of the evening, he was dozing in his seat while Rhonda was tastefully doing the twist in the aisle. Some things never change, right?

Then last weekend we went to see Eric Burdon and The Animals, which was probably the strangest of all the nostalgia concerts we've been to. The Animals might have been playing, but the audience was more like The Zombies...weird looking creatures who looked like they rose from the dead, raided a thrift shop, and decided to have a night on the town. I really wish I had a camera, because you'd never even be able to imagine some of the outfits. Just to give you an idea...there was this girl (who looked kind of like a man) wearing a leather vest that lit up across the back and blinked the words "Atomic Pam" walking around with another girl who looked like a roly-poly Tonya Harding wearing what appeared to be a pink and white ruffled skating costume. I was having a great time looking at everyone, and then I spotted a short, round woman who was wearing a skin-tight leopard print one-shoulder dress with fringe and clearly without underwear. Yikes! I kept looking at her, because I just couldn't figure out what she had been thinking to wear something like that, and also because she looked very familiar. OMG! It hit was Maude, you know that really shy girl we used to call "Tarzana" because she reminded us of an ape with her long arms and short body? Lulu, I think we damaged her for life! Now she's dressing the part! I'll be honest...I just didn't have the heart to say hello to her. I still feel bad for all the teasing we did. And I'm still waiting for that lightning bolt... Not!

So there you have it. Pretty incredible, isn't it? Have you run into anybody lately? Write to me soon and tell me what's going on in your life.



Friday, August 19, 2005

Illustration Friday - Reflection

What do you see when you look into your heart? Do you reflect on your life with joy or with regret? Do you see your father or mother, your children, your lovers? Do you see friends you've stood by no matter what, or people you've betrayed? Do you feel satisfied and hopeful for the future, or frustrated and full of dread? Does any of it matter now? What will you do today?

You cannot step twice into the same river; for other waters are continually flowing in. - Heraclitus

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present...

Here is a place of disaffection
Time before and time after
In a dim light: neither daylight
Investing form with lucid stillness
Turning shadow into transient beauty
With slow rotation suggesting permanence
Nor darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy. Only a flicker
Over the strained time-ridden faces
Distracted from distraction by distraction
Filled with fancies and empty of meaning...

Sudden in a shaft of sunlight
Even while the dust moves
There rises the hidden laughter
Of children in the foliage
Quick now, here, now, always—
Ridiculous the waste sad time
Stretching before and after.

"Burnt Norton" - T.S. Eliot
from Four Quartets

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Barista Wars (& EDM #28)

I've been working on ideas for a short story about the Worldwide Barista Competition, so I decided for this week's EDM challenge, I would draw our espresso machine. That way I'd have an illustration for my story. Well...this was really, really hard to do! There are so many little gadgets sticking out all over the place, each going in its own direction. I used a micron pen without pencil sketching first, so my lines ended up with a life of their own that doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with the machine. Oh well. Nonetheless, I offer you my version of the Pasquini Livia 90... with the expert help of my favorite barista, it brews the most wonderful espresso I've ever had! As for the story...stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Summer Cold

I have a summer cold. It's one of the nicest days we've had in weeks, and all I want to do is sleep. But I absolutely refuse to spend more that a few minutes at a time inside; my days of blissful do-as-I-please time are going by very quickly now. In less than two weeks, I'll be back at work with the stress of daily business nipping at my heels.

I thought a good compromise between running around and sleeping would be to try sketching some things outside...I drew little acorns and bits of leaves and this pot of petunias. They're overflowing and dropping their rotting flowers all over the place, but they still look splendid. I decided to just be brave and use an artist's pen and not worry about getting things "right." Well, the pot's lopsided and there's a lot wrong, but I'm just happy that I did it. I need to think of keeping a sketchbook like I think of keeping a written journal...I have (almost) never ripped a page out of a journal. If I ever wrote something I didn't like...I'd just comment on it in another entry. I need to apply the same method to drawing. Do it, observe it, and then see what I need to work on. Simple.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mummy, What Was Punk Rock?

Downtown NY in the mid 70's was an exciting place to be if you were into music. In fact, it was an exciting place to be if you were in your 20's and feeling ready for just about anything. It was before the gentrification of the lower east side, before the city got cleaned up and polished, and it was gritty, scary, full of characters and full of possibilities. The "Summer of Sam" might have been a horror show for many, but for me... it was a pageant of energy and people and music.

A place that figured largely in my experiences in NY at that time was CBGB. I saw lots of great - and not so great - bands play there, but it was really the atmosphere that made it all happen. I remember when I saw The Ramones play there; I had never seen them play live, and I was over the top excited about it. I waited with a couple of friends for a few hours just so we could get front row seats. We ended up second in line, behind some hippie chick whose t-shirt was festooned with all kinds of punk buttons, including the requisite "Disco Sucks." Our patience was rewarded with up-front seats next to Legs McNeill and some other person from Punk Magazine and an unobstructed view up Joey Ramone's nose. The music was beyond loud and so relentlessly fast that it impossible to resist the urge to pogo. We even left with a door prize: ringing in our ears that persisted for days. There was no doubt about it...It was an awesome show!

I read in an article by John Pareles in the NY Times last Sunday that it looks like CBGB will be evicted in September from the location on the Bowery where it's been for almost 32 years. There's talk of possibly turning it into a punk rock museum or moving it to Las Vegas...both options decidedly very much counter to the whole spirit of what punk rock was about in the first place. But, things do change over the course of 32 years...I can attest to that...although it still made me feel a little sad.

So I got out the step ladder and rummaged through my old journals on the top shelf in my office closet (yep...they're in the "out of circulation" section), and found an entry about that show and some people I knew who were into the scene downtown at the time. Above is a picture of me and a girl named Alison that I sketched to go with the following entry written January 24, 1978. I did alter it by adding the background after I scanned it from my journal.

Alison is a nice girl, but she looks like a scolded mole. Big nose, long bleached blonde shag, terrible posture, and a perpetual apologetic expression. I ran into her in the florist's the other day. I was buying flowers to enhance a sit-down dinner for ten, and she was buying flowers for Joey Ramone's quick recovery. A teapot blew up in his face. Very strange. I can't picture him drinking tea.

So...that's my little bit of randomness for today. This button, a gift from a friend who brought it back from London, perhaps speaks in favor of creating a punk rock museum. After all, how else will future generations answer such important questions?

Monday, August 15, 2005

EDM Challenge - mug

I'm working my way through the challenges. This is another combo... sort of... since it's both a glass and a mug. I'll count this as challenge # 4. I had fun trying to do the ridges. It's so hard to get a balance between observing closely and loosening up!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

EDM Challenges - glass & books

Okay...I'm taking the plunge and attempting to draw something other than a doodle on my desk blotter. I haven't done any "real" drawing by hand in...hmmm...well, let's just say it's been a very, very long time. I've been doing digital artwork in the more recent years, but even that had been put aside because I never seem to have enough time to work at it. Anyway, that's pretty much why I decided to start this blog...I needed to create a space and a structure for practicing illustration and writing. I was so excited to stumble upon Illustration Friday, and I've also decided to try doing the EDM challenges. Perhaps regular practice will rub all the rust off and I will eventually turn out something that looks good.

This is the first version of EDM challenges 25 & 27 (I'm trying to catch up, so I'm going to combine a few here and there). This was done with pencil, fine pen, and watercolor pencils.

This is obviously the same drawing, but I put a wet brush to the pencils. I'm really not sure which I like best, but I had some fun playing around.

By the way, that's a glass of Cambria Chardonnay 2003, and the books are Life of Pi by Yann Martel and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I recommend both the wine and the novels... there's nothing like a good glass of wine and a good read!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Illustration Friday - Wisdom

The quest for Wisdom is perhaps as old as humankind. People have prayed, meditated, fasted, consulted holy men on mountaintops, read volumes of self-help books, called the psychic hotline, and even snacked on forbidden fruit... all in the hope of gaining Wisdom. But as Adam and Eve quickly learned... Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. It's easy enough to gain knowledge, but Wisdom is an elusive creature. And as with all things elusive, it's important to be ready to recognize Wisdom when it unexpectedly stares you in the eyes.

It was the summer when I was ten while I was in Canada with my grandmother visiting some relatives that I had my first encounter with Wisdom in the form of an ancient bullfrog named Herbert. It was late afternoon, and I was feeling very down in the dumps. I had no one to play with - the adults were thoroughly occupied drinking Bloody Marys and smoking Craven A's, and my much adored and idolized older cousin was off doing teenager stuff with her crowd of friends. Bored, restless and lonely, I decided to go down to the lake for a swim. Perhaps there would be some kids down there who would let me swim with them.

I dove off the dock and splashed around, looking to see if there were any kids out on the float that I could play with. No luck; I was by myself. I began to think that this was the worst vacation I'd ever had. I was too young to fit in with the grownups and my cousin's friends, but too old to be fussed over and entertained. Even my grandmother, my wonderful friend who always talked to me and told me stories, didn't seem to have the time to say anything except, Remember your manners.

Manners...who cares! I sulked out loud, I want to go home. I hate it here! I stuck my head under the water, dove to the bottom, and swam along the floor of the lake until I felt like my chest would explode for lack of air. I emerged, coughing, by the grassy shore next to a neighbor's dock. This really stinks... I continued my complaint as I rested my back against the bank. It didn't help; I felt even worse than before.

Her-bert. I heard a guttural voice inches from my ear. I turned around, but at first all I saw was a big bumpy, slimy lump that looked like wet grass and moss. Her-bert, the lump said. I rubbed the water out of my eyes, and as they focused, I found myself staring into the eyes of the biggest bullfrog I had ever seen. He was the size of a small cat, and looked very, very old. He blinked his eyes. A fly buzzed his head and his red tongue instantaneously snapped it up. Life is good, he croaked, and took a flying leap into the water, landing with a huge plop! that sent rings shimmering out from where he entered the water.

I swam back to my cousins' dock, wondering if I had really heard that bullfrog speak. It didn't matter though - for some reason I felt much better. And to this day, whenever I feel as if nothing's going the way I had planned, I think of old Herbert the bullfrog snapping up the fly and saying, Life is good. He might have been just a frog, but those were true words of Wisdom. Life is good. I have to agree!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tree Frogs and Chickens and Bears...Oh My!

Moving to a new place presents all kinds of challenges along with offerring innumerable opportunities. When I moved to northwestern Connecticut from a suburb outside of Manhattan, not only did I have to adjust to a new job and a new lifestyle; I also had to adjust to "country living" in much of its glory. I stop short of saying "in all of its glory," because this semi- rural town I call home is breathlessly chasing after the dream of expansion, digging craters into acres of rolling hills just to refill them with shopping malls and selling off parcels of farmland to be developed into rows of McMansions. Yet even with all the development, this area is still the country. We're fortunate enough to live on six acres of mostly wooded property where nature does its thing every day.

In The Secret Life of Bees, the narrator Lily says, "If you think the country is quiet, you've never lived in it. Tree frogs alone make you wish for earplugs." Well, it's true...nightime in August here is like trying to sleep in the orchestra pit while the musicians tune up for eight hours. Tree frogs, crickets, and cicadas fill the air with so much full, layered sound that it feels like you're enclosed within three-dimensional walls. And then shortly before dawn, the birds take's really quite amazing. In my sleeplessness, I amuse myself by trying to figure what instruments these creatures are playing. So far I've identified a variety of percussion instruments: tambourines, triangles, maracas, castanets, and guiros. I've also heard violins and piccolos, and I'm sure there are probably several other instruments that I just can't recognize.

Before I moved here, I lived in an apartment where the night sounds were of neighbors watching televsion, stomping across the floor, talking on the phone, yelling at their children, and all other kinds of things I would have preferred not to hear. I've also lived on a boat in the Caribbean where the night sounds were so lovely and magical that they seemed lightly scented with perfume...water lapping against the hull, clinking halyards, steel drum music floating across the water from a hotel. And I've lived in New York City with its grab bag of expected and unexpected noises. It takes time for the noises of a place to become so much part of the everyday experience that they meld into the background, becoming just another fiber in the warp of life's tapestry.

Nighttime aside, there are so many things here that delight me to no end. Wild turkeys, red foxes, and deer wander through our property to get from one part of the woods to another. Our neighbors to the right run an alpaca farm, and our other neighbors to the left raise chickens that they let forage for seeds all over their yard. There are also bears, coyotes, and bobcats here, although I have not yet had the pleasure of making their acquiantance. Nature, like just about anything else that's complex and magnificent, reveals itself in pieces in its own good time.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Illustration Friday - Empty

Once again, I went through a bit of a process trying to figure out how I wanted to interpret this week's topic for Illustration Friday. I was thinking about empty spaces and places, empty pockets and empty cookie jars, glasses half empty and glasses half full...and as I was struggling to come up with something good, I came across an article on the front page of the New York Times about the devastating starvation in Niger. I read through the article and looked at the heartbreaking pictures of children dying of malnutrition, and it struck me once again that the concept of empty is certainly a very relative one. I wasn't comfortable with trying to focus my illustration directly on the famine in Niger, so I decided to look at how emptiness relates to having much more than we need. When we have so much, we pout when the cookie jar is empty, we stress when we think we don't have enough discretionary income, we worry constantly about being better than others, and then we wonder why we aren't happy. Empty is when we become so full of ourselves, so selfish and egocentric - that we forget what real emptiness is.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Lovely Heidi

I want to write something, but the lovely Heidi wants to take me for a walk. It's a beautiful sunny day, and I'm thinking she has the right idea to go before it gets too hot.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Overcast Monday


To be a giant and keep quiet about it,
To stay in one's own place;
To stand for the constant presence of process
And always seem to be the same;
To be steady as a rock and always trembling,
Having the appearance of death
With the soft, fluent nature of growth,
One's Being deceptively armored,
One's Becoming deceptively vulnerable;
To be so tough, and to take the light so well,
Freely providing forbidden knwledge
Of so many things about heaven and earth
For which we should otherwise have no word –
Poems or people are rarely so lovely,
And even when they have great qualities
They tend to tell you rather than exemplify
What they believe themselves to be about,
While the moving silence of trees,
Whether in storm or calm, in leaf or naked,
Night or day, we draw conclusions of our own.
Sustaining and unnoticed as our breath,
And perilous also - though there has never been
A critical tree - about the nature of things.

by Howard Nemerov