Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I love jazz. I have to - it's in my genes. My dad supported himself through college playing the sax in his own band. It all came to an abrupt end sometime after college and a stint in the service however, when he took his huge collection of 45s and busted them one by one against my grandfather's garage wall. He figured he'd never be able to support the family he wanted as a musician. I don't know what happened to the sax - it's probably still floating around out there somewhere.

Denny got a job working for Union Carbide in NYC, became a commuter in a John Cheever novel and plunged his family into that lifestyle in the Connecticut burbs. There was always music playing at our home from opera to show tunes, but when Denny finally got back into music, it was the tuba. He would practice and jam all by himself with Sousa on his stereo. He also had a great voice and could sing with the best, and would in community plays, and with fellow musicians and the devil during those infamous cocktail parties you read about that always spiraled way out of control and late into the night. The next morning he would lift his voice to God in our church choir begging for more of the night before but compelled to bend in forgiveness for wanting more of the night before. It was that Catholic guilt-for-no-apparent-reason thing.

It wasn't until he retired that he took up the sax again. He and I lost touch so I never got a chance to hear him play. But my guess is he was probably pretty good.

Unlike Denny, I can't afford to retire - but that's okay. I've determined it's the Universe's way of keeping me out of jazz clubs where I would certainly fade out in a haze of smoke and drown in an ocean of drink -  eyes closed, chin mounted on one hand, my old ivory cigarette holder and vodka martini in the other - trying to fulfill that sinful desire my dad tried to hide so unsuccessfully from us all.My brother Pat is a musician, and Timmer and I don't move without something playing.

Once in a while I stay in Portland for the weekend, and if nothing is going on I hang out in the apartment listening to Friday night jazz on MPBN. If the program is good, it's heaven. A couple of weeks ago was one of those nights.  I sat in bed late into the night listening and putting down this painting. It's just a bunch of feelings -  something for me to remember the music that night by, and maybe Denny too.

Jazz • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Breakfast with Crows

Spring is my favorite time of the year. Of the many things I love about it, sleeping with my windows open is one I really look forward to. I look forward to it so much in fact, that I forget - like the pain of birthing a second child until you're in labor and swear that you're an idiot for not remembering the pain of the first - that my bedroom in Portland is streetside.

The exercise of adjusting to street noise every spring takes some getting used to. There is the once romantic tooting of tug boats and bellow of fog horns just before you nod off. And then there's the way-too-loud-gut-rattling-vibration drive-by mixed with a lullaby of drunken teens swearing like pirates as they roam the streets in the wee hours. All of this I will eventually get used to - in fact it can be pretty interesting sometimes. But there's nothing that prepares me for the daily in your face Cacophony of Crow at Daybreak in C Major. I love crows, but every spring I wrestle with an urge to pick them off with baseballs. 

This year I have decided to try a softer, kinder approach. I'll invite them for a breakfast. We'll share oranges windowside in my bedroom. I will sit head in hand, entranced by their stories and astounded by the neighborhood news and gossip that only crows are privy to at that hour in the morning!

Breakfast with Crows • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I was at Trader Joe's the other day and spied a bag of cheap organic oranges. I'm not a huge fan of oranges and don't think about them much - but for some reason was drawn to that bag like a hungry cat to a bowl of plump juicy mice. I'm thinking it might have something to do with spring training - if I can't be in Florida and in the dugout with Yogi and Ron, I'll pretend with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice every morning.

It's always a crap shoot for me when I buy oranges because I have no idea what variety is good for juicing - I do it so infrequently. The bag I bought didn't even have the variety on it - it just said "oranges." Sometimes I hit it right and sometimes I definitely don't.

Well I hit it right with this bag because the oranges were juicy and delicious - whatever they were. It prompted me to finally go on line and find out how to buy a decent squeezing orange. I found out that the sweet varieties are usually more fragrant and include Valencia, Navel and Jaffa oranges. I also found out a little about the history and health benefits.

The orange plant is a native of Southeast Asia dating back almost 7000 years - some historians believe that it was grown in the orchards of China by the beginning of the 1st century millennium.  Persian traders introduced the orange to Europe - the Roman empire specifically - who developed orchards in North Africa.  The orange was then introduced to the Americas by Spanish explorers and conquerors and established orchards in South America. Today Brazil is the leading producer of oranges accounting for almost half of the world's total production of oranges.

Oranges are a rich source of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid (one orange (130 grams) supplies nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily dietary intake of vitamin C), folic acid, vitamin B6, flavonoids, pectin and dietary fiber. Besides, it also contains a significant amount of minerals like potassium salt, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, etc. An orange packs over 170 different phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and blood clot inhibiting properties, as well as strong antioxidant effects.

It can be an immense help in dealing with many ailments boomers like me seem to talk about 90 percent of the time these days - high blood pressure, hardening of arteries, constipation, heart disease and stomach ulcers.

I swear I can feel the difference already after just one week - at least I think I can.

Oranges • 8" x 8" acrylic on paper • $100

Thursday, April 7, 2011


I was fully aware that opening day was last week, but just couldn't get inspired to write about my favorite spectator sport. I was fighting my way through a blizzard at Sugarloaf.  It now appears however, that we may have spring after all, so I painted what I figured is on everyone's mind these days - baseball.

Around this time every year, Tom and I used to get our mitts out and pitch a few down at the park. We've been too busy lately, but this may be the year we get back into it - I'm feeling homesick for baseball. Baseball is always a challenge in our relationship, but over the years we've recognized the fundamental differences between us and honor them in each other. Yeah right!

I grew up in CT during the 50s so I'm a  solid Yankees fan. Tom grew up in MA during the 50s - he's a solid Red Sox fan.

I walk around with a spring in my step because I know the Yanks are going to win. If they're not winning yet, it's early. Tom is always waiting for the other shoe to drop - he had to replay his World Series tape 20 times before he sort of believed the Sox had finally won.

I pitch. He tries to catch.

I grew up playing baseball every summer through my entire youth with three younger brothers who were all great ball players. Tom never played but can quote a stat from the beginning of time. These days it's usually about the amount of money the Yanks are spending on their players.

I don't keep track of the score because I don't have to. Tom has to - it has something to do with his misguided belief that he can somehow control the outcome.

I am not superstitious. Tom is Mr. Superstitious.

I don't usually watch the games. Tom watches them in his sleep.

I get my team info from Patrick down at the post office depot on Forrest Ave. Tom buries himself in the Globe.

I am mature about my team - hey you win some, you loose some. Tom is an emotional 10 year old - it's always the Yankees fault even if they aren't anywhere near  the playoffs.

As I ease my way into the ball season this year, I do what I always do - I pray for world peace. Tom on the other hand, anxiously anticipates the Yankees' first bean ball.

Baseball • 8" x 8" acrylic on paper • $75