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Monthly Archives: May 2012

A funny thing happened on the way to the art show

Taken from an American Greetings card I received in the hospital.

My last two blog posts have been about my excitement and preparation for the art show this past weekend, but, instead of appearing at the Sunbear Gallery I was languishing at the luxurious St. Anne’s Hospital resort.

A bumpy detour

Continuing the road metaphor that I used in my last post I will say that the road suddenly became bumpy and detoured straight to the doors of the hospital. The past week was especially hectic as I completed my work and prepared displays for the show. During that time I wasn’t feeling up to par but pushed it to the back of my mind saying I didn’t have time to be sick. Everything had to be turned in to the gallery by Wednesday to give them time to prepare their displays. Throughout Thursday I continued to feel “ify” and began to think I wasn’t feeling well enough to stand for two days in the heat and talk with the people when all I wanted to do was be in bed. Friday I went to our local Urgent Care and asked the doc to patch me up for two days to give me time to get through the weekend. He examined me and then said, “I can patch you up but you will hate me later. You need to go to the ER right now.”

A popular term for the miniature White Castle hamburgers is “gut busters” or “gut bombs”—WELL—I felt like a couple of those bombs had gone off in my gut. Without going into graphic detail let’s just say the belly was bouncing. After a bad reaction to some meds things went from bad to worse. That is when I went into seclusion, had the phone disconnected, and saw few visitors.

Happy faces equal happy pills

Fortunately, I responded well to a heavy dosage of antibiotics and was able to come home on Sunday. But, the best medicine of all was a series of happy faces drawn by my niece’s four-year old son Aidan. Posted on the bathroom door was a dry erase chart where the nurses wrote their names for each shift and at the bottom was a series of emoticons to help the patient measure his pain. At the end of the series Aidan drew a sad face because Aunt Sheila had an “ouwee”, then he drew a happy face in the blank space meant for the patient to list a goal. At the very end of the chart he drew what can only be described as a blob which meant that Aidan didn’t have any “ouwees”. He then drew me a card full of various happy faces which looked to me like happy pills. All those happy faces must have worked because by the end of their visit I felt much better and even the nurses agreed my condition was much improved.

Take it from me, if you are ever feeling poorly the best medicine is the happy faces of a four-year old.

Meet my critters


I now know what the phrase suffering for my art means. My journey of creating my critters has been marked by blood, sweat, and tears—literally!

Countless pin and needle stabs resulted in big drops of blood which I quickly attended to so that the material wouldn’t be stained. I sweated over every detail, and, yes, there were tears—tears of fear and frustration. But now that they are finished I can say that it was worth the effort. They accurately portray the picture that was in my mind and that is an accomplishment for any artist.

This is the end of a long journey and hopefully the beginning of a new adventure. The pathway is littered with many rejection notices from publishers but I never gave up.  The publishing industry is in a state of flux these days with production costs ever-increasing and electronics taking it in new directions. With all these unknown variables publishers don’t want to take a chance on an unknown author.  Today, authors have to create their own stage or platform as they call it. I’m hoping my renewed creative efforts will eventually land THE BIG ONE someday. In the mean time, I’m having fun visiting with all of you on my blog and doing what I love—writing.

Now my books (teacher recommended for grades K-3) will come alive for the young ones. One day when I was working, my niece visited with her four-year old son and as we talked he played with all the birds scattered about the room, he lined them up on the ironing board and talked and sang to them. I hope this is an indication of good things to come.

Two of the books are about birds—The Beautiful Bird from Birdburgville and Robert Robin’s First Flight—and the third is about a flower, a late bloomer—The Sad Seedling. The Sad Seedling is planted in a pot on the cover which actually holds sunflower seeds compliments of de Monye’s Greenhouse.

For a fun time this weekend stop by Sunbear Gallery in Alexandria, Ohio on OH Rt. 37. It is just 10 miles east of New Albany on Rt. 161. Take the OH Rt. 37 exit towards Johnstown. For those not familiar with Alexandria it is a typical charming rural Ohio farming village midway between Granville and Johnstown.  We will be there the whole weekend Saturday 10 to 6 and Sunday 11 to 5.

Come for fun and be amazed by the art.  There will be live music, artist demos, door prizes, a children’s art auction, container gardens from Baker’s Acres, great snacks and antiques too!

When you are there be sure to stop by and say “Hello.” All my critters are freshly groomed and tagged and tucked into their nests waiting to say Howdy!


Below is a short synopsis of each book.

The Sad Seedling   

A flower is a late bloomer when its seed is planted in a dark corner of a crowded garden. When it blooms its only friends are the wiggly, giggly worms and the icky, sticky spiders until a new friend, Sadie the Ladybug, shows up.






 The Beautiful Bird from Birdburgville

A beautiful but vain bird suffers a terrible injury when a cat catches her. With the help of a friend who overlooks her deformities she learns to adjust to her injuries and live a normal life. (Based on an observation at my birdfeeder.)







Robert Robin’s First Flight

A young robin isn’t paying attention to his mother when she is teaching them how to fly. The result causes a BIG problem in Birdburgville.







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Who’d A Thought It?

Life’s journey is full of strange twists and turns.  One of the most unusual turns for me will occur next Saturday when some of my work will be on display at an art gallery. Me—who never had an art class in my life! I will have my work at Sunbear Studios and Gallery, May 19 and 20 in Alexandria, Ohio.

Some of my loyal followers of this blog may be thinking that I will have my photographs but, no, I will be featuring actual art work from my children’s books. I have three self-published children’s books titled The Sad Seedling, The Beautiful Bird from Birdburgville, and Robert Robin’s First Flight. When I wrote the books I had a very definite picture in mind and, although I worked with several artists to illustrate the books, they never captured the mood and personalities I wanted. Finally, in desperation I tried illustrating them myself and the final product wasn’t too bad. Art critics would probably find plenty to criticize but I drew my characters the way I saw them and what I liked as a child.

I need a “hook”

I took my books to a few book signings and craft shows but I felt I needed something more to draw attention to my product. Children being dragged to these events are bored beyond belief. I then decided I needed to make these characters come alive for them so I created soft sculptures of the main characters.

Making the critters

This was another challenge because not only am I not an artist but I have limited sewing experience. I found a pattern with basic bird shapes and then modified the patterns to look more like my characters. Here enters challenge number three—how to make the modifications work.

Once I had an object that closely resembled the characters in the books I then needed to make a few more adjustments so I could reproduce a number of them in as short amount of time as possible. Because the characters are so small, it is difficult scrunching all the material around the BIG sewing machine. It would have been much easier to make the characters larger but then they would be out of proportion to the ones in the books.

Finally, once the “critters” are complete then the hand work for the finishing touches comes into the picture. This involves sewing on the heads, closing the bottoms, adding buttons for eyes; and hot gluing “googly” eyes on the robins, beaks, wings, etc.

The big reveal

In March I talked with the owner of Sunbear Studios and Gallery about including my books in her shop and mentioned I was thinking of creating soft sculptures to go with them. She then told me about her art show coming up in May and to come back with them and she would decide. Today was the big reveal. I took my creations back to Meridith, the owner, and she loved them. In her words, “They are so cute.”

Art is fun May 19 & 20

So please come see me next Saturday, May 19 and 20 at Sunbear Studios and Gallery, 3 W. Main St., Alexandria, Ohio 43001—740/924-2656 (between Johnstown and Granville, Ohio on OH Rt. 37). They are planning a great art festival with live music, artist demos, door prizes, art auction of children’s art work, container gardens by Baker’s Acres, snacks, and LOTS OF FUN!

So, here I am, participating in an art show with no formal training—but that has allowed me to think outside the box. Maybe I’ll be an overnight sensation, the Grandma Moses of our time—who’d a thought it?!

NOTE—below is a copy of the flyer. I will add pictures of my “critters” later.


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Buxton Inn begins to clean house



The Buxton Inn: a place with a unique history and other worldly guests

Ohio is fortunate to have several inns dating back to the stage coach days still in operation. Sadly, one of my favorite places is now for sale. The Buxton Inn in  Granville, which has been in continuous operation for 200 years, is on the market and a tag sale is being held now through the weekend—so if you hurry you might be able to own a piece of history.

You can own a piece of history

In addition, if you have a few million dollars available you could also buy the inn itself. It comes with a unique history and several ghosts. The first time I visited the inn we sat in the bar which is in the cellar of the inn. An uneasy feeling wrapped around me and I said to my husband I thought it must be haunted. Sure enough, a few months later we watched a Halloween special which featured the inn and several of its other worldly guests. On the second floor of the inn is a grand ballroom and the story goes that the future president of the United States, Maj. William Henry Harrison, rode his horse up the stairs to the ballroom.

A memorable experience

I’m not sure why the Buxton Inn is my favorite. An equally historic and more stately inn is directly across the street from it, the Granville Inn. I’m not sure whether it is its unique salmon colored exterior, or the cat logo, the ghosts, or the good food but it all combines to create a memorable experience.

I hope someone who loves history, unique architecture, ghosts, and good food will continue the 200 years of hospitality at the Buxton Inn.

Please click on the link below for pictures of the inn.


Buxton Inn begins to clean house.

Cinco de Mayo: A salute to our Mexican neighbors

Français : Poste - États-Unis - Cinco de Mayo

Français : Poste – États-Unis – Cinco de Mayo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Americans love to party. If we don’t have something to celebrate we find excuses. Two of the biggest party days of the year just happen to celebrate countries known for their libations. This Saturday we will salute our neighbor to the south with Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

On March 17 we honor Ireland with green beer and whiskey and on May 5 we honor Mexico with tequila, tacos, and margaritas. These days are marked with lots of drinking and eating special foods but mostly drinking. The same people who were running around wearing buttons saying “Kiss me I’m Irish” in March will be wearing sombreros and tossing back shots of tequila this Saturday. This is just as the marketers for the alcohol companies planned. They were instrumental in promoting these two holidays beyond their original meanings. (For the true meaning of St. Patrick’s Day and its history seeWho Was St. Patrick? (

What is Cinco de Mayo?

But, what is Cinco de Mayo and why do Americans celebrate it more than the Mexicans themselves? In Mexico it is more of a regional celebration with most of the observances located in Puebla where the incident occurred. Contrary to what most Americans think, it is not the Mexican celebration of independence (that is Sept. 16). In Spanish, Cinco de Mayo means the fifth of May and it marks the day in 1862 when a ragtag army successfully defended the town of Puebla against a much larger and better equipped French army. If it weren’t for what happened that day most of Mexico and the U.S. could be speaking French today.

Why Americans don’t speak French

The year is 1862 and while the U.S. is embroiled in the Civil War, Mexico is weakened after years of fighting the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, the Mexican Civil War of 1858, and the Reform Wars in 1860. With a treasury nearly bankrupt, Mexican president Benito Juarez announces a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for two years. In response to this announcement, France, Britain, and Spain sent their naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Spain and Britain negotiated a settlement but France’s ruler, Napoleon III, saw an opportunity to establish an empire in Mexico and the U.S. by giving aid and support to the Confederate south.

Historians argue that France’s real goal was to break up the American Union by aiding the Confederacy. Many feel Napoleon planned to use Mexico as a base to back the Confederacy. Lincoln and his secretary of state remained neutral in the Mexican situation knowing they could not fight both the Confederacy and France at the same time.

Importance of the Puebla victory

When the Mexican army of only 4,000 defeated the French army twice its size (8,000) and better equipped, this gave a tremendous morale boost to the weary Mexicans. It also kept Napoleon III from supplying the Confederates which gave the U.S. more time to build a more powerful army. The renewed army eventually defeated the Confederates at Gettysburg 14 months later which then led to a quick end of the Civil War.

So Saturday, when you go to your favorite Mexican restaurant remember there is a very good reason to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Without that small band of Mexicans gallantly standing up against some of the best trained soldiers in the world it could have meant the downfall of not only Mexico but also the U.S. Let’s lift a glass and say gracias to our Latin neighbors for without them we could be saying, “Parlez-vous francais?”