Thursday, July 30, 2020

Keeping my fingers crossed

It has been an interesting year so far. Scary, isolating, busy, stressful, lonely, messy, noisy (in my house), chaotic and lots of reflection in the last month. Full of family, barking dogs, and kids running around naked. Reflecting on what to do with my future self. Am I too young to retire? Do I have it in me to start my creating my own for real? Do I have it in my to even get my studio back in order?

I am sad for our country and I refuse to let one odious remark that trump makes go unnoticed but posting it somewhere on the internet. I am sad because I have lost so many friends and family because of this horrible man. I could have ignored that they supported a racist, money laundering immoral moron to run our precious country to the ground ... but I just couldn't do it. That was my line in the sand and for that I have a handful of family and friends left in my circle. I feel like an orphan except, I luckily DO have my excellent family around me. I am thankful for that.

I embarrassed because I see the most horrible videos of racist crap going on in our country and I think, "where were these people hiding"? Even white people are completely disgusted with white people right now. How can we be acting like this in 2020? Trump has given these most vile people permission to be the worst of humankind and are not ashamed to be filmed acting out in that way. Will we ever stuff it back in a bottle? Or will be just have to figure out a way to live with it for the rest of our lives?

I feel frustrated because of the privileged "Karens' running around making fools of the human race. Demanding little kids show their license to sell lemonade on the sidewalk or ask a Mexican family to leave a park. I mean. The audacity and stupidity of this is astounding.

I am making a long list of the ideas of have had in the last 7 years to create and make. A list of what I would really love to do. Trying to decide whether I go back to school and learn UX and UI design or do I move on from graphic arts and do something entirely different?

Untethered to a schedule, I am finding that taking a nap anytime during the day to delicious. Happy hour can come in mid afternoon. Baking and cleaning can be done whenever. Binge watching all kinds of foreign mysteries. Soon will come helping Mason with her online school work, school will be online for the first 4 months of the school year. We are going to be busy for sure.

But this blog has been my best friend for 16 years and I want to document what is going on in this tumultuous times. I don't think the kids have a clue how unusual all of this is and how scary it could become if we descend into a full blown depression, which is completely possible. I don't think they understand that no one will have money to get their hair colored or may even build a house. I keep my fingers crossed that our economy will not sink into that.

But I am keeping my fingers crossed everyday for a better day to come on so many fronts. Our economy, our country, our politics, my future, our health. It seems endless, doesn't it? ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Foray into my future

I am waiting for the "newly unemployed" seminar to begin, a perk from my "you're laid off" package. Reading through LinkedIn jobs and saw this piece by Mika Brzezinski on "How I'm dealing with the stress of these extraordinary times". I guess no matter what your station in life, we are all trying to deal with this new reality. I do more dishes than I would like to, at least two loads a day. The kitchen floor just stays dirty, needing vacuuming almost everyday and I opt for once a week (not a floor you can walk barefooted on, if you know what I mean). We consider what we are having for dinner with more energy and reverence than ever before. We also bake more, brownies, cakes and cheesecakes ... to reward ourselves for not leaving the house? We spend more money on groceries but there are 6 of us here and I feel justified in the expense. I watch lots of foreign, subtitled, Swedish and Finnish mysteries.

I know my house is noisier than most. We usually have a least 2 TVs going, two kids screaming, David and I yelling at the news, 3 dogs barking. I went to a neighbors and her house was completely silent ... and I thought ... what a difference. Could I handle the silence after years of chaos?

I used to say, I feel so lucky, I still have my job and now that is gone. Unfortunately, I have too much of my identity wrapped up in "a job". I am aware of that. But at 64, I am pretty sure getting hired again, except for a sales clerk or Costco sample person ... might be very difficult. I am trying to be realistic. It is too soon to retire and too old to get hired. That is a conundrum. 

I am considering something on my own. Painting or building something? More sculptures or fltr skulls? I can tell that this is the right direction because I get giddy and light-headed at the thought of it. I just need to get through my initial fear of being unemployed, uninsured and figure out my best path for now.

Then there is the reality of the pandemic and the politicizing of wearing a mask. We have a president that is a psychopath and it is so depressing that 30% of Americans don't see that. I don't understand it all, mind-boggling! The fear of contracting COVID-19, which I have nightmares about all the time and question the kids at length about where they went, how many people were there, did they wash their hands. In other words, they are all getting sick of me. But seriously, David and I have enough health issues that we will not survive it and I do not plan on ending up on a ventilator and alone in ICU. Dark times we are living in, where you call to check on your cremation plan and see how much you still owe.

My seminar complete, they will help me update my resume and cover letters. Have a look at my LinkedIn and help me write an announcement of looking for work, which I sort of already have. See previous blog entry ;) One on one coaching. Looking over my social media (oops, wait until they see my Facebook). I know they going to tell me to stop the Trump Facebook post and tweeting ... but I am not going to do it. And I will not dye my hair brown.

I have decided I am going to write more letters in the next two weeks. I loved writing letters and have not done in ages. Did you see that post where residence of nursing homes were asking for pen pals? I just think this is such a great idea. And write my M-I-L a nice, long letter.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

A blank wall

I love the wallpaper by Antonio Marras! Wouldn't be nice to have a blank house to decorate? 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Processing my future and the process of my past love

Parting thoughts. Before all my memories fade.

Spent yesterday returning my equipment to Fred Hutch, computers, badge, etc and collecting 7 years of work and stuff. 7 boxes later, chock full with my printed samples, paper samples, my books, little torn pieces of paper as inspiration for something?, photos, purchased cards for inspiration, layouts, color schemes with pantone chips ... I was out of there. 

David and Mason went with me for moral support because I was a little afraid I would not get through it without tears. Everyone at Fred Hutch use to urge me to purge my inspirational keepsakes but that was never a consideration. Actually, it would make me a little annoyed when people insisted I did not need those books, posters, pieces of torn paper or art for inspiration. Who are they to say I don't need my visual hand-holding through the design process.

Mason was going through every little piece of paper saying "I really love this", "we have to keep this" or "this is the cutest thing I have ever seen". So of course, I brought lots and lots of paper sample books and stuff for her to do her "art projects" with. She spent 5  hours after we got home going through the boxes, making one box for "paper" and one box for "things" ... and of course, being my mini-me, kept just about everything. ;) She said after finishing going through all the papers, "I am living was my best day". She would love a magazine cover or a piece of art and I would say, "I did that", and she would oohhh and ahhhh. So it was quite an entertaining, uplifting afternoon.

So now I have gone through all of my samples. Kept 4 of each and recycled the rest. Threw away most of my mock-ups, and paper samples, envelope samples for a project, color schemes. As I am going through each one, reliving the process of coming up with the idea and designing it. The thrill of each project is the process of coming up with the idea and getting everyone to sign off on it. It is also the process of getting bids from printers, talking to printers about the best way to approach printing the piece, the best paper, paper weights, envelopes. Ordering samples of foils (I love that), ordering sample envelopes and colors (usually from, ordering in special paper to check color and texture. You would be surprised how many papers are NOT available these days in small quantities and if you have a large job, they can order up paper from a source. These things I have learned, sometimes, the hard way working closely with printers. I have the greatest printer connections and they have always been the best to me! My favorite printer is TCC Printers, Cathy would also patiently talk me through what I had imagined and was it feasible. What was the best way to go about it and what were any cost-saving solutions. I really loved that part of every project. Well, honestly, I can't think of too many parts of any job I did at Fred Hutch that I didn't love to bits and pieces. And honestly, every step of the process is thrilling!

It is all about cost when you work for a non-profit. Can you add something "special" and stay under budget? A foil? A die-cut? A converted envelope? Usually the budget is very small. But for more prestigious events we could have foils and die-cuts maybe converted envelopes ... a designers dream. Spending lots of money always makes me nervous! And I promise you, if you don't press-check something, it will be THAT  print job that goes awry! I only had one major malfunction in 7 years. A misspelled word on an invite that was not caught in the early editing process and made it through a printing. We have it reprinted and replaced in each very expensive "mirror envelope" carefully pulled open using a blow-dryer on 800 invitations. NERVE-WRACKING.

I designed all sorts of things. Invitations, rack cards, tri-folds, logos, branding for doors after our redesign, branding for vehicles, illustrations for stories, logos, animations, posters, special thank you presents, the lowly newsletter, cover illustrations for research magazines for science papers for our researchers, we had a quarterly magazine that we all took turns designing, photo props (I made 4 cells over a weekend), environmental signs for campus, special handouts for conventions, recruitment for donors, desktop backgrounds, powerpoints for TED talks. In other words, we (the art department) did it all. 

But there were other things as well: handmade books, vessel lamp prototype, Hutch Going Away covers for employees leaving, I made an accordion fold, 25-page book for someone celebrating 25 years at Fred Hutch, pieced together and delivered in a special box. I bought science flask and had them engraved with a simple message of thanks to donors. (Flask cost $12.00). We also used that same flask to for a present for someone who had been at Fred Hutch for many years, we all wrote a messages on bright paper, rolled them and tied them with string, deposited them in the flask and popped the stopper on. What a great present for her to have for years. I really thought long and hard about fun, less expensive ways we could honor donors and employees who honored us with their donations and years of dedication. 

If a department wanted me to do special science cards for donors, for NO money. I would print them, fold them, personalize envelope liners, package them, all by myself, for the LOVE of just doing it! And be so happy doing it. I personally bought a creaser for this project and I suggest if you do many cards you invest in one!

One fun and fun project was when Biden decided to visit Fred Hutch and we needed to put together a booklet with a days notice. I came up with the idea of having the cover printed, on black heavy card stock and another cover printed on velum with white ink and our logo. I had a great relationship with one printer and begged them to print these covers in one day and they agreed! (That is the advantage of having good, personal relationships with printers) ... while we waiting for the guts to be written, edited and printed in our own little copy center. I decided we could print, fold the book, fold the two cover pieces and use a green large rubber band I found at Office Depot (not very expensive) to hold it all together. So the copy center printed, the entire art department trimmed, folded and assembled these adorable books. HIT! Inexpensive. Done. Biden came. The rest of the art department made special backdrops for his visit and posters for labs. It was all a hit.

I decided we did not play up the "vessel sculpture" on our campus designed by Ed Carpenter. It is big, sparkly, beautiful ("employs light to represent the optimistic spirit of the institution"). I decided we should use the image more. I made several vector based silhouettes of it and we started to use it in amazing ways. One day I had a vision of a blank card, the silhouettes of the vessel in a holographic foil (which is what it looks like in the sun) and my wonderful art director said "go for it".  I mean how lucky? How much fun is that? We have used that silhouette now on many projects, driving home that we have this amazing, "larger than life" piece of art on our campus. 

So my wonderful job was not just about "the website" as the main bean-counter would have you believe. My job there was so much more, so much deeper and more fun. Although, I did just design the webpage for the upcoming "In For the Hutch" microsite. So I can DO web design. It is just not my strongest skill. 

I am so thankful that I had 7 years to work at my dream job. I did so many amazing things there. Well, amazing and scary for ME. Most of it scary in the sense you never know if people are going to "like it"or "approve it". Amazing in the sense, that I got to use ALL of my talents. I really don't consider myself that "talented", but I do consider myself interested in EVERYTHING and willing to try ANYTHING. And will expand my horizons in many ways. In that sense, I am proud of my work. Willing to figure out a way a "make it happen". 

So I am willing myself to come up with the "future me" and I am thinking  ... folk art? Maybe David and I will pair up and do stock art illustrations?  I just need to get out of my depressed funk, "can't believe that just happened to me" state of mind. Naps and lots of binge-watching-Netflix? Dreaming up what is next for me?

I wanted a poster but they did not want that

I ended up with these multi, folded, many patterns, photoshopped art invitation. I liked them but I think the poster would have been so much more fun!

My original mood board

This was the original idea, more scientific images, no one liked it

Invitation printed on a bandana! I Loved it! I printed the enclosure paper bag on our printer at work

Just  a few examples of my fun at Fred Hutch

The vessel lamp prototype

Monday, July 06, 2020

Future path

I was laid off from my job last week. Me and 76 others at Fred Hutch due to COVID-19 economic downturn. It has taken me a a couple of days to get my head wrapped around starting again at 64.

But we are having beautiful weather this week. And I am going to focus on that instead of looking for work.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Ward Schumaker

Just found my new favorite artist, Ward Schumaker. More work can be found here

Sunday, May 31, 2020



Belle Clipart Boutique on Etsy 

Pencil Pop

Jean-Augustin Barral


Tracey English

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Macoto Murayama - Inorganic Flora

Macoto Murayama creates computer generated botanical drawings, bringing an ancient tradition of flower illustration into the digital age. Pre-modern visuality meets here with cutting-edge technology; natural forms intertwine with scientific sharpness and descriptive precision. 

Raku Inoue

Raku Inoue and his Instagram 



Sunday, April 05, 2020

The ritual of cleaning

I think about my rituals every time I clean. Especially the bathroom. I have rituals and I have thought about talking about them here but never have. Maybe in this light of all the weirdness going on, I would like to make note of the little peculiarities of me. In case I am not around in a month or so. Yes, people my age are having these thoughts.

I love cleaning. I clean with toothbrushes, Q-tips and toothpicks. I always have. Even when I was a small kid, cleaning to perfection was "my thing". We lived in some pretty questionable places in my lifetime. Places that I did not want anyone to know I lived there when I was in Jr. High School. I would make sure no one would watch me going home (at this particular horrible duplex). I have also lived in some amazing places. That has been my life, sometimes the high life and other times, living in embarrassing ramshackles (in my view). 

So back to my cleaning rituals. No matter where we lived, I will clean a room to perfection. Especially the bathroom. No matter how old, or decayed or wonderful ... they all get the same loving attention. We always had nice towels and the final touch would be to perfectly fold the towels and hang them like they would in a hotel. 

I just did that again tonight in my bathroom. It makes me feel so complete to do that! Why? I have no idea. I always love to spray a special "cut grass" room spray but I don't think a dirty room deserves room spray OR flowers. No dirty room in my house will ever get flowers. It feels like an insult to the flowers.

I have bowls of my special rocks I have collected for years. Handmade bowls I found at the Goodwill. I wash and clean my rocks. I feel horrible if the rocks and shells have a coating of dust and hair. They deserve better.

I am pretty sure all of this has something to do with having control, especially as a kid. Having control of what my house looked like on the inside, no matter what it looked like on the outside. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Covid 19

Today, a few in the household are getting testy. 

Daily life is surreal. The quietness. The birds chirping away on a beautiful sunny day, at the feeder without a care as Covid 19 shuts down the world. Our neighbor's family stood outside their house and sang Happy Birthday to their mother/grandmother. Bri cried. Matt picked up a load of wood that needs to be split and dumped it in the driveway. I super-cleaned the fireplace. Then found my spot in my "big chair" and watched another movie. I do that, watch movies, a lot. I don't feel guilty about it. My favorite thing to watch these days, foreign mysteries. I get so caught up in reading the sub-titles, I forget to check my twitter feed or how afraid I am feeling at the moment. If you want a list of the great ones I have watched, just asked! Netflix, Amazon. I really should not be spending the extra money, but so worth it for sanity right now.

I try not to think too hard about what is going on in Seattle at the hospitals. In New York with the hospital staff  putting themselves in jeopardy as they try and save lives. In Spain, an ice rink turned into a morgue. In Italy, where the numbers of dying has not dropped. I have not freaked out or shut down, but I fear it will come sooner than later. I constantly read statistics, numbers around the world infected and dead. So many not heeding warnings at Florida beaches. Cruise ships still unloading infected passengers in Miami. I try to keep my anger to a minimum, anger will not help. I watch trump thumping his chest at his daily briefings/hate rallies and want to vomit.

So far we have been lucky. My husband and I can work from home and still have jobs for now. I have been working from home, starting week 4. I tend to work too much because it is just too easy to stay logged on to work. It gives me something else to worry about besides Covid 19.

Matt has still been working, but furloughed as of Friday. Bri is not working in the salon for now. Mason out of school going on week 4. Only a few trips to the grocery store and I feel like we are playing a crap shoot every time someone ventures out. I try NOT to go to the store. I am really having a bad feeling about David and I getting this. We are way over 60 and not great health-wise. 

We are living in chaos with the kids trying to find their way into this new world. I think the baby is teething so she is crying a lot. But we watch her grow a little everyday and that is fun. Mason is amazing, with this amazing vocabulary and she and I cuddle in my "big chair" most nights. Her with the iPad and Barbie on Netflix, me with my phone and a game or twitter feed. 

I do things like call the Neptune Society to check how much I owe on my cremation and get the policy number. Talk to David about all of our accounts. I have started writing down my passwords in case something happens and people need to delete or update my accounts/feeds. I would usually blog all of these details for family but not many of my family members are left. My mom, brother, uncle have died in the last 4 years. Most of my Texas family estranged because of their dedication to trump. I was thinking the other day, I could die and only my immediate family would know or care. Weird! But that is where we are in 2020.

So I am documenting this like my family would be reading about life here during the lock down. I am not making deals with God to save my life when so many have died, so very many, old and young, have died. We are just trying to be smart here. Keep our heads straight. Keep the house somewhat clean. NOT stick our heads in the sand about the truth of the world-wide situation. Try to have a positive attitude about the financial situation of us and the world. 

I have thought about blogging the pandemic. If I didn't write it down, maybe it wasn't really happening? I think that is what I was feeling. But I really need to come to terms with reality. And put this in my blog, that has been my diary of all things, bad and good, up until now. So hopefully, I will read this years from now, as I read about my mom dying and say ... yes, that horrible thing really happened. 

I tweet all day about trump and his colossal screw-ups on Twitter and on Facebook. I will not stop hounding trump until he is out of office and out of our hair.