Saturday, May 20, 2017

Final frenzy

Prepping to go away for 5 weeks is, shall we say a bit intense. Prepping for an exterminator to come in and out while we're away is nuts. Half of our stuff is going into storage and the other half is wrapped in plastic....  We're just not there yet.

On top of that our airbnb host in Casablanca cancelled yesterday, so for over an hour I was sure we'd be sleeping on the streets when we arrived (ok, maybe not, but I'd made that reservation months ago!)... Anyway we've rented a different fabulous place on airbnb. Fingers crossed this one works out!

This is a not so great picture of Phoebe last week at her induction ceremony for the honor society (we took a bunch and this was the best one!). Anyway the kids have wrapped up at school and are getting ready to go as well. I have one more class to teach on Monday and I'll be done too!

Right now I'm in recovery. My tooth that hurts on and off got very painful on Monday and I had to get it extracted yesterday. After the dentist looked he said I needed a root canal on a different tooth as well. So yesterday I had oral surgery for 4 hours then stumbled off to teach my class with a swollen face. Mike came and helped me and he is awesome!

Today is packing, cleaning and moving more into storage..... Have an excellent weekend!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Older me, fashion shoot pics and a green rabbit

©Azur Mele
A few months ago my masks were part of a fashion photo shoot in Tucson, Arizona.

©Azur Mele

The photos were taken at the famous "Congress Hotel"
©Azur Mele

This one I particularly like for all the ghosts.

©Azur Mele
Anyway I thought the photographer, Azur Mele, made some intriguing images, and they clearly had a lot of fun doing it!

A couple weeks ago I was hired to make this green rabbit mask based on a Star Wars character called Jaxxon.

Just recently the customer was kind enough to send me this! It's him cos playing Jaxxon using my mask. He did such an excellent job!

In the last week, Chloe has made it back from college (one year down 3 to go!), and I turned older. Now I'm 46.  Anyway my amazing husband got me these...

Aren't they pretty?  We'll be celebrating more this weekend. Unfortunately, though, for the past 12 days Naomi has been incredibly sick. She had a fever for a week and didn't go to school at all. Next week is the last week of school for her and I want her to go, even if she's still run down. I also want her to get better fast as we leave for Morocco in less than 2 weeks!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Morp, The Moon Cat and what passes for Jury Duty

So you're thinking what's a morp?
It's "Prom" spelled backwards and the name of the middle school dance that Naomi headed off to last weekend.

She decided last minute to go and had a really good time!

On Thursday of last week I had jury duty. For the first time I couldn't excuse myself, because my kids are older now and that childcare excuse just doesn't fly.....So I was a bit nervous. I notified my boss that I couldn't teach, and shortly after that, lost the postcard that was my summons. Then in a panic that morning I called in without my juror number. They said it was all ok as I wasn't needed in the morning and to call again later to see if they need me this afternoon. Then they didn't and told me I was done with jury duty! Here I was, all ready to go with my sketchbook.  I could pretend I felt rejected, but no, I didn't.

Saturday was my first chalk festival of the year. Usually one of my daughters helps me, but this year Phoebe made other plans, Naomi woke up sicker than I'd seen her in a long time, with a fever and such a sore throat she wasn't talking, so Mike stepped up to help out even though he hates drawing on the ground!

As you can see I'm working in pastels on a large canvas. Someone marketing the festival though it'd be great if the public could vote and win their favorite mural! (Keep in mind these things are 6 foot x 6 foot and covered in chalk pastel) Anyway this mural will be around a while.

Fortunately the weather was great on Saturday. It was breezy and 83ºF, which means we lucked out for Phoenix (today it's 99ºF)

This is an almost done photo (the right side is still in progress).

Here's a close up (with a lot of shadows)

A side shot.

And a completed one. After we finished we took a walk around to view some others...

This artist was featuring bees and pollen.

The artist running the kid's zone was the only one who got to draw on the sidewalk. I have to say I was a little jealous. The sidewalk is so much more fun to draw on.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Dance Show and the Science March

This last week Naomi has been going to rehearsal after rehearsal for the Spring Dance Show put on by all the dancers at her school. As it's an arts school there are a lot them, so this was a big event!

Here's Phoebe waiting for the show to start.... After this cameras had to go away till the end.

The performances were actually fabulous and the kids are really talented. It was a really entertaining night out! This is Naomi after she had changed from her costume. She had to turn it in backstage.

Yesterday while the girls were busy at their shows (Naomi dancing for the second show and Phoebe working crew at the Secret Garden again). Mike and I decided to check out the March For Science down by city hall. Because it was Earth Day we took the light rail.

Since we needed to drive our kids to various activities in the morning we missed the actual march, but we made it to the rally and festival.

There were a lot of tents with science displays and info.

This one was encouraging young people to try some science experiments.

Unfortunately this is Phoenix in April so the temperature is already 95ºF and after about 40 minutes of the rally/festival we were wiped out and hot! So we got some warm water from the "free water" truck and made our way home.  I'm glad we went out though, I need to acclimate to the hot weather, as next weekend I'm drawing at the Phoenix Chalk Art Festival!

In other news Mike's new comic, Mystery Meat, is now on sale in Japan! Here it is on the rack. YAY!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The list

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

I have a list tacked to the wall in the kitchen that says "Things to do before we leave for Morocco". It's really quite long and it seems every time I cross something off I add two more things to the bottom.

I did manage however to get some things done. Most of us have gotten our vaccines (except Phoebe who never seems to have any time).  Unfortunately Mike and I had to get hep A and B jabs. These vaccines weren't available when we were kids and every night since my arms have been throbbing (though last night was much better). The typhoid we'll be taking some pills for 2 weeks prior to departure.

Also I confirmed our "riad" where we're staying in  Tétouan (see the gorgeous photo above). Phoebe studies architecture and fell in love with the photos of this place. It's right in the medina so we can go wandering through every day!

Anyway I'm trying to cross off a few things each week on my list as we're down to just 5 weeks till we leave! In the meantime Phoenix is doing it's usual warm up. We're hitting temps in the 90's again. Believe it or not it will be cooler in North Africa when we leave than it will be here.

Today I have a class to teach about painting surreal images and masks to complete for clients here and abroad. Have a fabulous week!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Revisiting the Secret Garden

   For quite some time now Phoebe has been busy working backstage doing makeup and pushing around sets on a local production of "The Secret Garden"at Valley Youth Theater.  Just this weekend the show has finally opened, so Naomi and I went together on Sunday to check it out.

The theater was packed with little girls in pretty dresses. We had pretty good seats though.

This production was the musical one. There is also a play version that I worked on a few years ago. I was curious to see how they were different.

   This is the opening set, after this no pictures allowed, but it opened with an incredible scene of all the people dying of cholera, and introduces all the ghosts that haunt the main characters throughout the musical.  I should say it was astonishing how completely different the musical version was. 

First of all there was not just a few songs, they were singing throughout. In fact there was hardly any speaking. They had ghost characters everywhere, acting out scenes from the past intermingled with the present. In the play the dead characters are referred to, but they are dead and not in the show. It created such a spooky and haunting atmosphere. 

The cast from The Secret Garden (the play)

      In the play there are SO many animal characters and there were literally none in this production. It was amazing to see how the same story, and source material was a charming little play full of animals in one show, and spooky gothic opera in another. Not to say we didn't enjoy it, we did. The cast was amazing, and I loved the sets! Phoebe's clearly having a great time being part of it.

   Anyway this week I'm swamped again with work making masks for a show in Austria and a film in NY.  Today I'm bringing Naomi in for her typhoid vaccine for our trip to Morocco which is getting closer every day. Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

TBT: Keeping them alive.

Phoebe in 2003

                       In the last 24 hours I bought a new mac laptop (with our last dollars) and shipped it to my panicked daughter at college, who's crappy Chrome book has punked out during finals.  Picked up my high schooler and middle schooler from school at 4pm and drove from North Phoenix to way downtown Phoenix in rush hour traffic to get Phoebe (the one in high school) to the Valley Youth Theater where she stays until 10:30pm at night working on crew for their musical "The Secret Garden". At 10:30pm, in a daze, I picked her up to a litany of complaints. "You weren't supposed to come inside to get me", "I didn't get any homework done and I'll have to stay up till 2am!" 

         Kids are work. All the time. In the beginning it's all about getting through that minute, that hour, that day. In the winter of 2003, Phoebe had a cold. Then her congestion seemed to get better, and then it got worse. A lot worse, so we brought her to the doctor. He saw her in the office and told us it's nothing to worry about then he sent us on our way. The next morning I had a book signing/event for my children's book at a library 4 hours from our house. That sounds like a long distance, but we lived in the Catskill mountains in New York, 45 minutes from just about everything.
I read my story to a massive group of 90 kids, ran an activity and signed books. Then they told me another group as coming in in an hour, so I called home to check in. Mike was a wreck. Phoebe was struggling to breathe and we had only one car, the one I was driving. I apologized and ran out of there. I drove through the crazy Bronx traffic up to the mountains and all the way home. 
         She wasn't blue, but she looked bad. Really bad. I grabbed her and drove in to the hospital, while Mike stayed home with our preschooler. The whole drive there I talked to her "Keep breathing, baby, Mommy loves you!" She was barely responsive. I paced the waiting room in the ER for 40 minutes, till they finally saw her and then promptly admitted her. She had pneumonia and yes, she nearly died. 

             The first night was awful. I was stuck in my heels and little black dress with a lingering cold of my own and 2 months pregnant. Nights in the hospital are misery, as most people know, nurses come in and out all night.  Finally the next morning our only neighbors agreed to bring Mike and Chloe  ( my preschooler ) in to see us. He brought me clothes and I gave him the car. 

Phoebe 2 weeks after getting discharged.

   By the end of the week when she was discharged, both Phoebe and I were a thousand times better, but poor Chloe came down a stomach flu and spent the next week vomiting and becoming alarmingly thin. Then that was over too. Back then it was all about keeping them alive. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Dragon Boats and an art show

Last week Chloe was home for spring break, so we headed down to Tempe Town Lake to check out the Dragon Boat Festival. 

I know very little about Dragon boat racing but it seemed that teams came from as far as Canada to race here last Sunday.

Here you can see the teams lined up to race.

There were a variety of interesting food stands. Phoebe picked up this Filipino treat called a halo halo. It was surprisingly good with a little of everything in it!

It was a beautiful day but REALLY hot and sunny so before too long we headed back...

Last week was also Phoebe's big art show at school.

This is Phoebe's building project.

Her blue Saber Tooth Tiger.

Chloe looking at art.

Phoebe's texture project. She had many more art pieces in the show and was one of a handful of kids who sold art that night. The show was pretty impressive, but it is an art high school. :)

Yesterday, Chloe flew back to Missouri to finish off the semester. Here she is having a coffee at the airport cafe....

In the meantime I finished up this custom mask of a green alien rabbit from Star Wars...

The cosplayer who commissioned it was pretty excited. It's always nice to hear from happy customers. 

In other news, Mike is currently in California for Wondercon and he's coming home tonight! Yay!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Rat Factory

The last five days I've been fairly miserable with the most incredibly sore throat, fever and now a cough that won't stop, however I keep at it here in my studio. This week the mask orders have piled up like a second Halloween and I'm of course very busy making rat hats.

These rats are for a production of "Coraline" To be performed by a ballet company in London.

As you can see they have red crystal eyes. All the rats in this picture have already been shipped to London.

From my design you can see that they have a pocket on top of their heads for a soul (the ball) that the dancers present to Coraline at the end of the dance.

The lead dancer will be wearing this rat mask. The ears are detached because they will be fixed to a top hat for the performance.

I'm making 13 head dresses and each one fits a specific dancer.

This is one of the labels I use while it's in progress. While I make each rat I'll refer to them by name. Such as "Flora needs her eyes painted" or "Grace's ears are drying"...

...Or "Oh yes, Sonia over there is still in pieces".

Anyway I have shipped the mask and the first 3 head dresses 5 more are in various stages around my desk. That leaves 5 I haven't even started.... It's going to be a long month!

In other news- today marks 10 YEARS since my very first post on this blog. Everything was different then... Take a look!

"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut


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