I celebrate. A lot. Probably more than the average person. I like to cheer every accomplishment. If the kids had a good report card? Let’s go out for pizza! The end of a bad week? Let’s order it in and rent a movie!. I have celebrated finishing up all the painting and writing for my book, celebrated the arrival of it in printed form. If there is something to smile about, I like to celebrate it. Sure it may be excessive, and sure my kids may have said quite a few times, “What are we celebrating NOW, mom?” but there are so many daily moments to feel good about.

And I am the first to admit though, that I can’t remember important dates to save my life. Best Boyfriend Ever and I don’t have an anniversary. We cannot remember when we really began to date. We had been friends for close to a year before we ever kissed. We know it began sometime in late 2006. We had just recently agreed to try dating. I was scared to death of messing up our friendship. I had just a few months before broken it off with one of the sweetest, nicest men I had ever met and that was so hard. He was just not right for me, but I couldn’t even tell anyone why. So then there is my hunny, who at the time was just this nice man that had come to some of my gallery shows, sent flowers as a congratulations when I opened my studio, who had met me to go listen to some blues music a few times here and there. I was so comfortable with him. We were friends, we had fun. We could talk for hours and hours and hours. We finally decided to try dating, but it would not be exclusive. I had to be able to date other people. God, I was terrified that it might not work out and we would end up hurting each other and losing our friendship.

We took a trip to Savannah – he knew I had never travelled at all and I wanted to see Savannah. He loved this place and it was near the ocean. God we had fun that weekend. The first night in the hotel I was down in the lobby and he came walking towards me from down a hall. I can remember that moment so clearly. Because all of a sudden I knew it. I was smitten. Looking back, I think that was the first moment of beginning to fall in love with him. We have pretty much been inseparable ever since. And we celebrate as many moments as we can, well, mostly because it is fun. He brings me flowers often. Almost always for no reason at all. There are flowers on the dining room table right this moment from him. “Just because.” he will say when he walks in after work and hands them to me. Swoon.

Last night we went out after we had been in most of the day. I finished the text for my book. I got down on paper what I have been trying to get down for about 3 -4 years now. “We should go out! And celebrate!” I exclaimed. He smiled at me and said ok. I love when he looks at me like that. I love when we go out for no real reason at all and do the same thing we have done so many times at the same places and it all still feels so fun and new. We had so much fun last night doing nothing really special. And today I am celebrating having a partner that I am so in love with and knows how to be happy and celebrate with me for no reason in particular at all.

Rambling, meandering, procrastinating post. But with pictures!

So, Hi! Here I am procrastinating. My name is Michelle and I love to put things off. i will tell you all about it. Maybe a little later.

It is my day off and the last of the four day work weeks. Yay!! Sounds good in theory, I know, but sucks in real life. Glad this is the last of it. But here I am not doing what I should. I have writer’s block. Total writer’s block. Maybe that is because I can call myself an artist, no problem, but a writer? Dude. That is hard. I have a book I need to get down on paper. All the illustrations are sketched or floating in my head waiting for the words. Some are on paper, some are not. But TODAY IS THE DAY. I need to get them out. I wrote the companion piece to a book my agent is currently shopping and I need to get some sample illustrations done for that this weekend, but this other book will drive me insane until I get it down and get it to my agent. I don’t even think I care anymore if anyone likes it, I just need to get it out of me so I can stop thinking about it anymore. Get borned already little book!

So in order to do as much as I can that will stop me from sitting and writing, I had much STUFF to do this morning. First I needed to get together a package to send to my best friend in Dallas. She is awesome and amazing and I love her to death and every single year we forget each other’s birthday. We actually will get annoyed at each other if we remember because then the other one HAS to remember that year. I think we may have both remembered twice. Maybe. After 13 years of friendship i think this is the first year I actually remember the actual date. So that was the first on my to do list today right after taking out the three stupid dogs. None of which have been exactly stellar pets as of late what with green paint episode (see below) and shredded paper towels that seem to appear every other day, and then just yesterday, Skyler stole my breakfast just as I was going out the door. Ok, actually I was in the bedroom showing boyfriend a great picture I had just taken of Dumb and Dumber looking all teenage hooligan and laughing about it and when I came out to the kitchen to leave for work I see her walking away from the counter licking her mouth. Stupid dog.

So later after I finally make some coffee, I am in my studio and the dogs start freaking out. I mean barking like CRAZY. I look out front and of course there is NO ONE. So I tell them to be quiet and keep packing the box up. All the dogs inside quiet down, but I hear another dog barking like crazy outside. I walk to the front door and there is no dog, so I go to the back. I hear a dog right outside the door on the deck. “Oh great! A stray!” I think. I look out the window and there is little old grouchy Lucy, barking to get in. Apparently in my pre-coffee haze I walked in and shut the door on the poor, old dog. Apparently she was lolly-gagging about and didn’t make it inside with the other two. She loves to be outside, so I imagine for an hour and a half that I was not noticing her missing, she was out on the deck getting some morning air, relaxing, enjoying her old self watching for squirrels listening to the birdees singing. Then she had enough and barked to get in. Yeah, so I am as stellar a pet owner as they are pets. oops.

At one point in the packing process, i decide I want to add a photo of me and my best friend and I can’t find one. So I dust off my ancient iMac and hope it turns on. Yay it does! And then I began looking through old pics from years and years ago. It is like flipping thru a photo album and that eats up at least another 30 minutes. Finally, I find the pic I want, but not before transferring a bunch of my kids’ pics to my new computer. Lordee I cannot believe my kids were ever that small! They have been in El Paso, Texas for the past month and I am missing them like crazy so seeing these pics just about killed me.

Anyway, here are some pics to see since I need to finish this rambling, having no point post so that i can go finally DO some work today. Have a wonderful, beautiful weekend and if you read thru this whole meandering entry I apologize for this time in your life you will never get back. But…pictures!

The trouble making hooligans…

Shortly after the breakfast theft. Hey, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. (You can tell she was VERY affected by her punishment)

The “good dog.” Shortly after being let back in after she was done getting her elderly self some fresh air without those other whippersnappers bothering her.

I could die from cuteness…Her first lost tooth!

Noah! On a pony!!! Before any video games of any kind took over his life!”

Back when Lucy was the teenager hooligan and Rufus was an 11 month old oaf of a puppy. He had just a few weeks before eaten a couch. I will repeat that again, in case you glossed over that. He ATE a COUCH.

And finally a video I took of The Soph when she was maybe 5 years old. Ugh I miss my babies!

Weekend In Florida:

Cost of Gas to drive down there: $100

Cost of dinner out with family: $80

Cost of friend dog sitting your 3 dogs: $0

Cost of coming home to find the German Shepherd ate a green bottle of paint after the friend left for the last time that day? AND that she chewed all over the living room rug that left green paw prints everywhere? And after 2 hours of cleaning and scrubbing STILL looks like a leprechaun massacre occurred? PRICELESS.

Yay for 4 day work weeks! Ick for 10 hours days.

Well, THAT four days of work was simply exhausting and it is time to get some rest. Heh. Seriously, the first week back to work after being on a dream vacation is like being dumped with cold water. Shocking and very uncomfortable. Thank goodness my coworkers are funny people to work with and in general I laugh throughout most of the day while I work.

We are off to sunny Florida to visit the Boyfriend’s parents and show them pics and movies of our trip. As I have been making the DVD’s and looking at the images I realize I maybe always had a camera in poor Best Boyfriend Ever’s face, and probably ordered “Now KISS me!” as I snapped the picture about a bazillion times – that screams romance right?! – but what else was I to do?!? I had to document the trip, right? And make sure it all looked perfectly romantic and we never EVER argued or got irritated at all even when he was walking too fast and the street was slippery from a morning rain and my flip flops had no traction on the Parisian streets and I almost fell right on my big ol’ American butt and had no one to grab on to because Best Boyfriend Ever is the “NO dilly-dallying!!” type while I am the “Oohhh! look at this! Ohhh, honey, look at this piece of fabric! Oh! look at the pastries in THAT patisserie!” type. Right. Uh huh. The pictures are PERFECT. heh.

So we are driving down in a few hours hoping he gets off work early enough to get down there with enough time for me to get an evening walk on the beach. Sigh… This year the family did not do the big beach house vacation (which was why we went to Europe and no I STILL don’t care about how bad the dollar is there and no I WILL not do the conversion on the two pairs of jeans I bought in Berlin where apparently woman HAVE curves AND don’t wear their jeans so low that you belly hangs out over your jeans just to ya know, remind you every second of the day that you should be doing more sit ups. The jeans are AWESOME there and I don’t care what they actually cost me!) and I have to say, I am missing my ocean fix this year. I am thinking we might need to rent a little beach hotel room sometime in September for a long weekend to get it in. Might as well keep having vacations as much as possible, right? Right. I mean what is life without relaxing and enjoying it as much as you can? RIGHT.

I do have to do a bit of work this weekend. Not they paying kind, the FUN kind. I have to finish typing up all the text for the various books and poems that I have saved up in journals, on scraps of papers and on backs of envelopes. I wrote a companion book for the book that my agent is shopping to publishers right now and she wants to see everything else I have written too. There is one book in particular that I think I have been working on for something crazy like 4 years now. The image in the masthead is from an illustration in the book. A few very close friends have seen it, but no one else. I am trying to get it just right. I can feel it, it’s there, but I can’t quite get to all of it – get to what is in my heart and in my head all at the same time. Often I will wake up in the middle of the night, or right before I am falling asleep I will hear the perfect line for one of the scenes and I have to get up and write it down before it disappears. The images are all in my head and most of them sketched out, but the perfect words keep floating like fireflies flitting about and I have to be very quick to catch them as soon as they begin to glow. This book just might kill me, or it will be the thing I am working on until I am 90 and in a rocking chair still grasping at the shiny lights and missing them. “Damn, I almost had that one, but it’s gone again!”

And now I will give you flowers for your Friday. Some Happy Sunflowers to take with you into your weekend from the streets of Berlin outside the train station.

And to make you laugh as you start your weekend, about THE BEST sign I have EVER seen for a Port-O-Potty, those clever, clever Germans! All you graphic designers out there, aren’t you jealous that YOU didn’t think this up?! You know you are! I am jealous that not only did they think it up, they got their boss’ to APPROVE it!!

sign in the metro

ah….all makes sense now doesn’t it?? I wish I was as clever as the artist that made the postcard….I still love my bandaged bunny tho! I sold Scuba Dog this past week and while I know it went to a good home up in New Jersey (yay for New Jersey!!) I will miss it. It hung in my bright yellow bathroom and every morning it greeted me and made me smile. So I replaced it with Metro Bunny and that makes me smile now too. But still, Scuba Dog will be missed!

It’s funny, I do love selling my art, of course I do, but it is hard every time to let them go – even the commissions of other people’s pets. I honestly get such great joy from painting silly dogs, cats, any animal and when I finally drop them into the mail never to see them again, it is hard. how corny is that? At least I do know they go off and make other people happy. And I can tell my the email from the person that bought it, Scuba Dog will be making a whole bunch of new people smile. Besides, if I kept every painting I did, my whole house would look like a crazy lady lived there, all those sill dog paintings everywhere on every wall…oh…wait….too late.

Metro Lapin

I painted this yesterday – a wonderful rainy day perfect for just staying inside and painting the day away. I had to paint a few paintings for commissions and a basset rescue and a golden retriever rescue that I was asked to donate to. Plus this little bunny…I cannot take credit for the idea – I saw it on a postcard and fell in love with it in a children’s bookshop in Paris. I had no idea what it meant and why the bunny had bandages on its’ paws! The next day I found out why and loved the image even more. I made a quick sketch of the postcard before sending it to my bunny lovin’ best friend in Dallas and then painted it on canvas for myself yesterday. Anyone who has been to Paris know what the story behind “Metro Lapin” is? I will post the answer in photo form later!

A few moments in Paris

There is so much to say, to write, to think about. Right now I am trying to soak it all in slowly, over time. I saw things I had only seen in books, pictures, on the computer. While I could do without all the air travel (oh to invent some kind of insta-transport!) I loved seeing it all with my own eyes. It is so much to download and comprehend into my brain at the moment. I will write more later, but here is just a smattering of images that took my breath away. I will add more soon. This is just Paris – not Berlin at all. I took hundreds of pictures hoping to capture my memories. But I tried so hard to also put down the camera and just BE in in all. I think one of the best things that happened was when my camera ran out of battery power right at the beginning of The Louvre. At first I was horrified, “How could I be so stupid, why did I not charge the camera more, how could I not document EVERY moment?!”

But then I just let it go and began to look, to SEE all the beauty around me. I looked for the brush strokes, the cracks in the canvas, the tiny little details that let me see that a human being and not some kind of God had actually created these master pieces. It was hard, so hard. Every single thing in the Louvre looks as if God himself had created it, handed it it to us and said, “Here, so you know what I mean by ‘art’. ”

First day in Paris…

just a few pics from the first day in Paris…much more to come…

Good food and amazing coffee.

Views from the hotel window…sigh…

and of course, all the romance….so perfect, there aren’t many words. Being in love in Paris – it does not get much better than this!

And I have to say, the French? We have yet to find one rude person. The people here have been amazingly helpful and so, so nice. When I was told people I was coming here I got told that I would either hate Paris, or love it. I am happy to report I am in love with this city! It is everything I hoped it would be! So very lovely….

We made it baby!!

The flight was looong. But worth every cramped minute of it. plus I got to watch two chick flicks that Best Boyfriend Ever prolly would never have – score! And lemme tell ya that King Henry Dude? Total horn dog that f-ed up his country course of not thinking with the big brain. Not sure it all actually went down like that, but ya know men…

Anyhoo, we are HERE! The beer really is cheaper than water and it is SOOO pretty! Seriously, flower boxes EVERYWHERE and everyone is so nice. “Hahllo! Hahllo!” everywhere you go.

I have to run, so much do, but Boyfriend is behind me telling me to go dry my hair. And as far as the time difference, everyone is right. Once you get here stay up until your eyeballs feel like they will fall out and then the next morning? Bam! Ready to go!

(pics are talking too long to upload right now – will try again later!)

Leavin’ on a jet plane…

Ok, I was supposed to write more by now, but a kid filled weekend of sleepovers and Rock Band Challenges and a full day of work yesterday was no help to me at all. “Can you fit one last article in the spread before you leave?” my coworker asked RIGHT before Iw as about to shut down my computer and LEAVE, VAMOOSE, GET THE HELL OUTTA…. “Sure,” I sighed. “Email it over, I’ll get it in and reprint the spread.”

So I finally got all my WORK work done, the kids are off to THE GREATEST STATE IN THE UNIVERSE, otherwise known as um, Texas. (Did you KNOW they can still secede from the Union? I got told that SO many times in my married days. GO AHEAD AND DO IT TEXAS. Mexico needs more room.) Me? I’m not so much a Texas fan, but my son does come from there so it’s got that going for it. Anyhoo, I digress, moving on.

Kids are gone, dogs are kenneled, bags are packed. And I need to not be writing a blog, but finishing up so we can get out the door. I will blog as I can with pictures. Best Boyfriend Ever is brining his puter and I will have my camera.

Later taters! By tomorrow morning I will be in the land where beer is cheaper than water (so I am told) and then this weekend I will be where there is art I have only read about and gazed over, studied, loved from afar… I truly cannot believe I am about to go to! Thank you IRS from the bottom of my heart for funding my trip. My tax return and your stimulus money will be well spent – even if it is for sixty cents to the dollar…

Talk to you later chickadees!!