Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Art, money and children
sketch for The Pony Man
There always seems to be this distinction people make between 'true artists' and commercial artists or people who do it for money. There's always more respect and downright adulation for the true artists than the commercial hacks, though who gets to decide which ones are which seems to be a fuzzy area and sometimes the artist makes the shift across one way or the other. It seems to be agreed that the 'true artist' has a drive, a compelling need, to put their own unique vision out there for others to see with no consideration given to what others think, or for commercial viability. A need to create regardless of consequences.

When I was in art school, occasionally guest artists would be brought in to speak and show their work. Since I was in the Illustration department and at that time the Academy was considered more of a trade school, most of the guests were successful commercial illustrators. Their abilities and talents were amazing and awe-worthy. Some were in the process of making the transition from commercial illustrators over to fine artists doing more gallery-oriented work.
Acrylic sketch
It was rather hotly debated, the chasm between commercial illustration and gallery art. At least among the illustrators it was felt that in order to be commercially successful you needed to have excellent draftsmanship skills in drawing just about anything, you needed to paint or use some color medium well, and you had to be versatile and adaptable to flow with the changing demands of the commercial marketplace. Fine artists tended to be dismissed rather like one-trick ponies, artists who used gimmicks to get a 'look' that could be hot. Fine art was regarded as just selling out in another way, another approach to grasping at that brass ring. And people didn't talk at all about someone being a 'true artist'; there was the general feeling that every artist was using the 'fake it until you make it' approach.
Acrylic and prismacolor pencil
So there's been a discussion going on in the Utata group I participate in about what defines a 'true artist' versus a more commercially oriented artist who's just trying to put food on the table. And of course I'm finding that this pushes my buttons in any number of ways, considering my background. I think part of the notion being bandied about was that if you were a 'true artist' then you'd feel driven to create significant work no matter what your life circumstances were, and to hell with real life and the need to pay the bills and feed any spawn you happened to have hanging about. An example used was the photographer Diane Arbus and her husband Allan Arbus. Diane was defined as the 'true artist' and her husband was the technician with a camera who did the commercial work and paid the bills, feeding the kids and allowing Diane the means to follow her muse. All debates about Diane Arbus and whether she was a true artist aside, the fact is that she is the famous photographer of the pair and her husband is obscure and unremembered. But he paid the bills. History will remember her as the innovative, fearless, and very controversial, 'true artist'.

Yeah. I have issues with all of that. Most of the famous artists throughout history, who managed to spend the majority of their lives creating an impressive body of work, had a support structure holding them up. Famous husbands had wives who took care of the more mundane details of life, the few famous women usually were either single and mainly supported by their families, like Mary Cassat, or they had supportive husbands (much more rare in earlier times). There are far fewer famous women artists in history than men, and most of the ones who can be named were single, without children. I think it's pretty evident that being a mom and taking care of kids and holding a household together makes it pretty damned hard to continue with any aspirations of being a 'true artist' who has an inextinguishable drive to create a significant body of work for posterity. The drive may be there, but it gets subsumed in the need to feed and clothe the kids. Let's be honest; for almost any woman who has children, taking care of the kids becomes the main, the most important job that she has. She will do anything and give up most everything, to keep the kids alive and as happy as she can manage. And lord knows if she doesn't, she gets vilified as a bad mother, the most heinous crime for a woman. Diane Arbus may be considered a 'true artist' but few even know she was a mother, much less what kind of mother she was. She ended up committing suicide. Not something that generally goes with the label of 'good mother'. Apparently women can sometimes be considered 'true artists' but not usually good mothers at the same time.

I can think of several examples of women that I regard as true artists who are also good mothers. But it seems like most have a supportive partner who supplies the majority of the income and the stability to allow them to pursue their art in addition to being a mom. I can't claim to be a 'true artist' by any stretch of the imagination, but Paul provides me with that sort of support structure. I have my own issues with that and a weird sort of shame about admitting it; I want to think of myself as a self sufficient working artist who doesn't need support. But let's get honest here; it'd be pretty damned impossible to take care of the kids, keep the household functioning as a home, make enough money to support us all, as well as create lots of wonderful art with no regard for its commercial value. If anyone can point to real, actual examples of women who have done all of this and get regarded as 'true artists', I'd like to hear about them. But kids and family come first for me. My choice.
Acrylic and prismacolor pencil
So what is the big deal? When it comes right down to it, I chose right from the beginning to be a commercial artist, working for money. I wanted to draw, but I needed to make money to support myself. I knew I didn't want to work at a soul-sucking day job and then just do my art at night, but I wasn't driven enough with an inextinguishable drive to create my own vision, my own unique art and be remembered forever. Heck, I've never really believed that anybody gets remembered forever anyway, even if deep inside there was a tiny part of me that wished it were so. So I've been a 'hired wrist' for most of my working life so far. Resigned to be a lower-tier artist who doesn't grab the limelight and become a big name. Never been good about the limelight anyway, being a shy person in general. But the truth is that the pieces I've made that I like the best after considerable time has elapsed aren't usually the pieces done for commercial purposes, but the pieces I've created for myself. You know, real art.

Is it enough just to raise the kids? To manage to fit in some art now and then? Isn't that what women have been doing forever? It's a matter of priorities, after all, isn't it? I think we mom-artists get easily dismissed as dilettantes because of our priorities. It doesn't really matter, perhaps, if it's fair; the truth is that I'll still pick the kids first, but I'll still also have that craving to make cool art that I like. That is just a part of me that isn't going to go away even though I don't have much time to make much art for now. Hopefully I will somewhat later.
And lest I sound too self-pitying, let me add that this mom gig is about the best yet hardest job I've ever had. Fame is a fleeting, fickle beast that usually only happens for 'true artists' after they're dead and their work increases in value due to the limited availability due to their being dead. Screw that noise. I'm going to live now, enjoy my kids and my partner and the good life I have now. If I don't end up making a body of art work worthy of being considered as 'true art' by some unknown future critics, I can really live with that.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

NinjaGo: A Real Lifetm Game and Toy Review
NinjaGo in action
So Riley was given this little Lego game set called NinjaGo for his birthday a while back.Yesterday since they had the day off, Riley dredged it out of the toy shelves (after going to the doctor for a sore arm and the excitement of getting x-rays made of the arm) and he actually asked me to play it with him, since Casey had already immersed himself deep into a computer game of Heroes of Might and Magic. I dragged myself away from all of my Important Things I Was Supposed To Be Doing (but wasn't really doing) and sat down with him so he could explain all of the Rules and Regulations of Play.

The game comes with a set of cards, a minimal set of directions for rules and such, and all the parts to put your guys together. There are little Lego Ninja dudes that you put together and then you put them on a little Lego spinner top type of base, and the notion is that you set them spinning and they do battle and try to knock each other off of their spinners. Riley had read all the rules and set it all up and so we launched into a game. Well, the cards looked pretty impressive, with leetle teeny 6 point type on them explaining the moves each card allowed and how to play them.

It quickly became apparent that the card part of the game was completely ridiculous, with cards like these: "Magnetize: Opponent spins from it until a player wins, then remove." Um, whaa? Or: "Wall Of Fire: Stand up card. Opponent loses if spinner knocks it down, then remove." There was no explanation in the instructions of when to play the cards, in relation to when to spin the characters, whether you put the card in the middle of the spinning characters as they're spinning ("HEY! No fair! You just stuck that stupid card right in front of my guy and made him knock it down!") or before actual spinning of Ninjas commenced ("HEY! You can't put it right in front of my guy before he spins!").

So we gamely tried the game part. The basic idea we took from it was Last Man Standing, so that's what we did, and we quickly abandoned the cards completely and improvised.
"I flee sensibly from your Mallet Of Death, oh red doofus dude!"
"I am Skellington Guy! I am awesome, though I have severely truncated legs! Observe my mighty femur of Death, and be afeared!"
"I am NOT Red Doofus Dude! I am Awesome Flaming Master, um,  something! We shall do mighty battle! Come closer, you unholy holey dude!
"AHAH! I have knocked you off your spinner, you incompetent red lout! Come back and I shall smite you with my dog bone of Death!"
"Help me, I've fallen and I can't get up."
"Avast! Aaarrgghhh! Come and I shall cleave your bony head in two! Oh, wait, I'm like, a Ninja. Um, why do I have a giant mace in my hand, then? Oh, wait, HAIIIYAH!!"
"Run awaaaaay!! He's chasing me!!! He's going to kill meeee! Oh wait, I'm a skeleton. I'm already dead, aren't I?"
"Happy friendly Skellington Dude wins the day! Only not really, since he doesn't balance or stay on his spinner as well as the other dude."
We ended up laughing like loons with Riley literally rolling on the floor laughing. I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. Really. It's been a long time since we laughed so hard at something so silly and funny.

So there you have it, a Real Life Game/Toy review. Probably not what the toy manufacturers would like to hear, but this is real life toys in action. ;)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Athletic Endeavors and Parental Support

So it turns out I have athletic boys. I'm always surprised by this. I've been taking Riley to his track meets the last few weeks, at least partly because I was asked to take photos for the team, both group, buddy and running shots. And my camera, trusty friend that it always proves to be, has worked its usual magic and allowed me to relax a bit in this crowd of fit, active, involved parents, and take pictures and more or less be myself, despite my perpetually chunky state of physical being.
Be strong!
This is a difficult post to write. They say that kids push you out of your comfort zones and I know I've talked about all that before; it's still very true for me, especially with the boys' sports teams and the high degree of parental involvement expected. I've never been athletic, I am so obviously not a runner and never will be. And the stuff I'm talking about in this post usually gets viewed as too silly, too petty, too... trivial, at least between adults, to really get talked about. But.

I've been thinking about it all and decided to face it and be open about it: I have felt judged by my appearance and been found... fat...(gasp!)  by a few people. Nothing too overt, just slight avoidance, sidelong looks at my girth, things like that. The 'how did she let herself get that way' sort of looks. Which cause those thoughts that maybe it's all in my head, maybe I'm just paranoid, the 'did I just imagine that look there?' sort of things. You know, where either you end up wondering if that really was what you think it might have been or maybe you're just being oversensitive and insecure (which of course I am) or maybe you're just going crazy. That sort of subtle stuff that in the end really isn't that subtle. It ends up making a person feel unwelcome, excluded and judged, regardless of whether it was conscious and intended or not. I don't believe anybody in the group intended anything like this consciously, after all. We're all trained not to be cruel, not to make faces or gestures or say questionable things. Kids do them, because they're kids and haven't yet learned better, but even then they usually get corrected by parents quickly. I hang onto the belief that most adults don't mean to be judgmental and probably aren't even aware that they may be coming across that way.

Possibly I'm over-sensitized, or maybe I just haven't been hanging around in situations where everyone around me is fit and athletic and has been all of their lives; it makes me feel even fatter by comparison. I keep telling myself they can't know what sort of history I have, they don't know all of my various physical ailments over the years. It all helps remind me to watch how I'm thinking of others and to watch for judgmental crap in my own head. You never know what someone else's story is until you give them a chance to actually tell you.
Running the 400 meter
Anyway, I'd been feeling some of that icky sort of stuff with some of the track team people from the beginning, and I just wasn't breaking through that barrier to get to know people better, for a couple of years now. And I admit that was due to my own avoidance, my own resistance and discomfort with the whole thing. I tried to be supportive for Riley's sake, and ignore the way I was feeling every time we went to a meet or get-together or whatnot for the track team. I kept thinking that as long as everyone treated Riley fairly, I could just suck it up and handle the other stuff.

This year though, this season with the track team, has been better. Part of making it better was really facing myself and admitting what was going on with my own attitudes as well as finally seriously considering that maybe it wasn't all in my own head, and actually talking about it with some trusted friends. That helped a lot; it took away some of the sting and helped me see which parts were my own personal insecurities. Maybe more importantly, though, it let me realize that despite my wishing to give other people the benefit of the doubt, my wanting to think I was just imagining some odd behaviors, there was some real prejudice going on there. And it wasn't my fault. It helped me a lot, because it also meant that it wasn't all in my head, and it wasn't all my junk to deal with; I could actually lay it aside as their issues to deal with. And being able to lay it aside made it more okay to just relax and be me, actually.
Leaping out.
 It's been an ongoing process, of course. Some of it was helped by getting to know some of the parents and coaches a bit better through just being around over time, and having them come to realize I was a real person, not just a caricature cut-out. And some of it was due to getting more involved through photography. If you ask enough people to pose for you they really start recognizing you. It can be pretty startling when it first happens. It also helped quite a lot when the shots I'd been taking were made available to the other adults and people were favorably impressed. It's been similar to the positive reaction from people when they find out I can actually draw, oddly enough. I believe it helps people see past their early preconceptions of you, to realize that you have interesting skills and are worthy of more respect than they might have accorded you otherwise.

Maybe that sounds unnecessarily harsh, but discrimination and bigotry based solely on appearance can be pretty insidious and overweight people get treated to a lot of it, usually unintentionally by people who've never had serious problems with weight themselves and thus are less tolerant or understanding. Overweight people get that attitude even from folks who wouldn't dream of being bigots, who pride themselves on their enlightened attitudes towards others who are different. But being weighty tends to bring with it a whole set of judgments about being lazy, slovenly, greedy, with the accompanying song and dance about how overweight people just need to exercise, diet, get control of themselves and show a little self-restraint, a little self respect... People who are intolerant of fatness can really surprise you, but they may have no common reference points and probably haven't had really serious struggles with it themselves and thus they really don't 'get' how anyone can allow themselves to be that way.

Of course it's never a comfortable subject to bring up, and certainly not one openly talked about or easily confronted, despite the fact that weight is one of the most common, pernicious and pervasive prejudices; discrimination based on size is openly practiced and tolerated in most every sphere of our society. Nobody wants to think that they're being cruel or insensitive, whether it's towards fat people or people of different ethnicity or disabilities or educational levels or what-have-you. I believe that everyone has biases and prejudices, while at the same time I also believe that most people mean well; they don't realize or really intend to be discriminatory, but they don't see their own faces when caught looking or really hear the way their words sound to the person they say them to. I realize that's contradictory, but I stubbornly hang onto the notion that people want to be basically good, even when from my own perspective they may be so far off kilter it's amazing they don't just fall right off the planet.

And of course there are ways to help everyone become more aware, but let's face it, everybody has busy lives and most people are pretty comfortable with where they are attitude-wise. Demanding that people face up to and admit their prejudices isn't generally popular except perhaps among people who work very diligently on being tolerant and unprejudiced, and I'm going to be blunt: they can also get self-congratulatory and be irritatingly holier-than-thou towards the rest of us uncultured slobs. Some of them are actually the worst offenders about overweight intolerance, when combined with their very conscientious efforts to eat only healthy, organic foods and get proper exercise and their intolerance for people who obviously don't manage to do all that.Yes, it's harsh of me to say that. Obviously the whole issue needs a better approach.
 It's always hard to be the odd person out. My way around it has always been to sidestep it by being relentlessly artistic, I guess. It may not be the best way to deal with it, but it's worked for me in a lot of situations where I was the outsider, the new kid, the big kid, the weird kid. Most people think being able to draw is cool, and I discovered early that if you show a new crowd early on that you can draw, then you're quickly accepted as 'the artist' and people lay off of you. Some people do it with their music, or their sense of style, or being good at a sport people can admire, or various other skills. Survival 101 for kids who move a lot: find your own unique thing you're good at in order to survive in a group. And god help you if you can't easily display an admirable skill or ability, because if you're weird or fat or ugly or just don't fit in you'll get teased and bullied. We've all been hearing lots of horror stories about bullying, and most all of us have been bullied in one way or another in our lives, usually as kids, because kids are cruel and pack-like and haven't learned to conceal what they really think as well as most adults.

But to get (very) belatedly back to my original train of thought, I think part of this shift in overall friendliness for me with the track team is due directly to Riley; he's settled in more and follows his coaches' directions better, he's been around a few years now and he's transitioning well from being one of the little, more rowdy kids to becoming one of the steadier, more reliable older kids. He likes striking up real conversations with his coaches, and he likes getting their advice on how to get better. If he sticks with it, he'll eventually become one of their team leaders, guiding the littler kids in how to do things. Which could only be a good thing for him, honestly. He's really coming into his own in the skills involved too, though; this season he's set a good number of new team records, especially in long jump and running, like the 200 and 400 meter races. That lanky, lean build of his is really good for a runner and jumper, and he is a motivated kid; he wants to run faster and jump further. He's a lucky kid in a lot of ways; he has cool abilities not only as a smart kid, a social kid, but also athletically. I know he and Casey get teased at school occasionally, but I also know they have the confidence that comes from being accepted in several ways by several different groups; it seems to give them not only self confidence but the ability to recognize group social dynamics and the skills to handle cruelty in order to defuse it or stand up for themselves and their friends. My hope of course, is that they'll extend their definition of friend to include others who are different, who may not have anyone to stand up for them, who need a strong person on their side.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Death and Taxes
Oh, that old saying. Nothing is inevitable but... you know. I am deep in the midst of procrastinating on pulling more numbers together for our taxes, which are due in less than a week. Yes, I know.
busy bee.
I associate tax season with the passing of my dad, honestly. He was the one I learned that old saying from; though god knows he wasn't the one who actually pulled the taxes together and paid them; the sensible, responsible one was Mom. He was one of the least financially savvy people I know, which is saying a lot with my family. But he liked that saying. How ironic that he died just before taxes were due a number of years ago. He stubbornly managed to avoid them after all.

I'm not sure why but this past few weeks have been hard. You'd think that I'd be all happy and relieved; we've managed to get our house refinanced and it allows us to pay off all of our debts that we've been carrying around since two years ago when Paul was unemployed for an extended period. Well, we're all paid off except for that brand spanking new house mortgage, which is painful since we were fairly close to paying off the old one. But all the rest of the debt is being consolidated into that new mortgage and will reduce our outgoing costs considerably. It's all good news, yet I find myself feeling like a raw nerve. I have no good reasons for feeling like a basket case; the boys are doing very well in school; both made the gold honor roll this semester and got a B+ and an A- on their Science Fair projects, their sports have been going very well, Paul still has a job, I'm still waaaay too busy trying to do too many things at once. It's not like the regular crazy routine has changed.
California Poppies in our next-door neighbor's yard.
Dealing with our debts has forced me to look at money and how we've been using it more carefully, though. I'm coming to the belated realization that I have a rather adversarial relationship with money. It can spill over into how I view other people, I suspect. I know a lot of that comes from old family attitudes that would be better off abandoned. I find myself quite ashamed of some of those voices I hear in my head, talking badly about other people and their financial situations, rich and poor. Some of them sound just like my dad, complaining bitterly or blaming others instead of taking responsibility and taking care of a mess myself. I have no place to be judging anybody else for their money-managing abilities or lack thereof since I'm no prize in that department myself.

But damn, it made me lividly, screamingly angry when the credit card company, who have been completely paid off for about two weeks now, went ahead and took a huge payment out of my checking account to make a payment on non-existent debt to them; my understanding had been that if there was no debt by the time the payment was due they wouldn't take it out. It was a misunderstanding on both sides, really, and thank god Paul stepped in for me and straightened it all out with them because I was incoherent with rage. What made the whole thing worse was they didn't notify me in any way, and my checking account suddenly went waaay underwater and various bill payments bounced, with all the various check charges that happen then. To add insult to it, that credit card company took the money out in an instantaneous electronic transfer of money, and they claim they cannot refund it the same way, they must cut a check and send it by mail and it will take 10 to 15 days to even be processed, let alone get to us. During which time they, of course, get all the interest to be earned from that big chunk of money. It just set off all of those angry resentful views in my head about the giant corporations and their sneaky ways to make money from little folk and all of that crazy-making stuff for me. Lord, I hate those big greedy corporations and their complete lack of humanity.


They gave me a credit card. They in effect loaned me money to buy my kids shoes, jeans with knees to put holes in, all when we had little income for necessities, let alone clothes for growing kids.
pants get well used around here...
 I'm the one who used that damned card, so it really is my own fault. Sometimes I hate having to admit I was the doofus in the first place, even if they do operate in a soul-less fashion. Money is so frustrating to deal with. I thought by the time I was this blasted old I would have worked it all out and made my peace with the money demons. But noooo...

I hate doing taxes. And I still miss my curmudgeonly, grumpy Dad, even with all of his faults.
James Gladney

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Walking and Talking

So I've been trying to get out and go walking more. When you work at home and drive kids around endlessly, it starts to feel as though you're either sitting at home or else sitting in the car. Because you are. Home can start to feel like a prison, but more often I'm stuck in the feeling like all I do is run around taking care of everyone else's needs, so getting out and walking is something I wanted to do just for me. Paul would call it 'soul building'.

Early morning at Lake Elizabeth.

So my friend Michealle comes out walking with me once a week, or at least we try to work it into our schedules. She's very patient with me; I usually bring my camera and Yoda Bob Dog, and she frequently brings her dog Sasha and her birding binoculars, and we walk along and have a good time. We stop and stare at birds, I take lots of pictures, the dogs stand around patiently and wait.And then they sit and wait. And then they get impatient and Yoda starts jumping around whining and we move along.

Sasha waits patiently.

Walks with Michealle are never boring; she's an expert bird watcher and has a lot of knowledge about wildlife; her degree was in Wildlife Management, if I'm not mistaken. We always see cool birds and other wildlife, and she knows about ecosystems and plants and has a lot of the same interests that I do, so we can jabber away at great length and never run out of stuff to talk about. She never seems to get impatient with me when I stop to try to capture the perfect light on the mountain or the mist on the water or the color of the pickleweed in the marshy areas.

Pickleweed at Don Edwards Nature Preserve.

What always amazes and touches me is that Michealle is ready and willing to make time to go walking with me; she's plenty busy with all of the things she does; she's organized and always on time, she runs a number of non-profit organizations with common sense and kindness and she's an essential and vibrant part of the Mission Peak UU Congregation. She's creative and intelligent and has raised an amazing daughter with her husband, Mark.

Michealle and Sasha.

I'm still sort of floored that she made the first overture of friendship, asking me if I wanted to go walking. I feel blessed to have met her, and the many other kind folks at Mission Peak who have reached out to me and become friends. Mind you, it always amazes me when anyone reaches out in friendship to me or my family, and it never gets old, it never ceases to surprise and touch my heart. That small negative voice in my head  can't imagine why they have sought me out as friend material, but thank goodness they reach out their hands past that fearful part of me and grab my hand anyway. :)

Getting the chance to develop friendships and being allowed to let them deepen with time is a special sort of bonus to living in the same place and putting down roots, I think. I never had really close friends when we were growing up; there were transitory friends, but I never knew anyone for very long, and long distance friendships rarely last, especially with kids.

Looking west across the Bay.
Developing long term friends came with college and adulthood, but that lonely shy new kid in school has never really gone away. It's incredibly hard for me to reach out to other people, partly because I'm still shy and insecure (why would they want to hang out with me, after all?) but also because of those early lessons that we'd just be moving on anyway, so why get attached and then just get hurt? It's one of those life lessons, getting past the fears of rejection, fears of loss and all that. You'd think I'd have conquered it all long ago, but it's one of those 'layers of an onion' things, you keep peeling off layers and peeling off layers... The hard lessons seem to go that way.
Anyway, I'm lucky in the friends who have sought me out and continue to hang out with me once they know me. I feel very fortunate to have all of my local friends as well as all of my long distance friends, the long term friends as well as the newer ones that are just developing. I'm not always a good friend. Staying in touch is not one of my strong points; keeping in touch with friends separated by time and distance or busy lives has been hard with the busy lives we all lead. But I hope I never take them for granted or lose my appreciation for all of them with all of their amazing talents and hard won knowledge and abilities.

Hrm, I went off talking all about me there; it wasn't really my intention. I have such cool friends, it's just amazing, always.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Creative Endeavors and Sketcharound

I've posted an entry over on Sketcharound about the fun and revealing process of making a Depth Collage.

Detail of the collage I made during the workshop.
I might mention that Sketcharound is a collaborative blog by Debbie Ohi and myself. It's new, like this blog (and it's all Debbie's doing, that persuasive woman). Sketcharound will be focusing on creativity; we both are interested in the creative process, living an ever-evolving creative life, and we hope the blog will reflect that.

We plan to post about what we're up to creatively, as well as eventually having guest posts by other creative people and we'll also talk about interesting creative things going on out in the world.

Debbie and I got together recently (no small feat when you consider that Debbie lives in Toronto, Canada and I live here in Fremont, California) and we talked (okay, I just talked in my usual quiet way, Debbie talked ANIMATEDLY with much hand waving) about what subjects the topic of creativity would include, since originally we had thought to make a blog about mainly art, illustration and writing, but after a few wild brainstorming sessions (if you've met Debbie you know what I mean) we egged each other on and decided that of course creativity includes all sorts of things, and we wanted to be able to talk freely about all sorts of fun stuff like writing, poetry, crafts and making things, music and songwriting, comics, cooking, just about anything.

So really, anything goes. Well, almost. We did decide Sketcharound would be a family friendly site that parents could feel happy about letting their kids read, if they wanted. So the Sketcharound site is a new baby, and we're curious to see where it goes and what develops. In all of our copious spare time, of course. I think of myself as too busy with the boys and all of their activities and all the various work projects I try to do and various volunteer things and life in general. Debbie has so much going on it's really more than mind-boggling. She's got more energy than a bag stuffed with squirrels.

So, any suggestions for things you'd like to talk about, what you do as a creative outlet, how you go about living a more satisfying creative life, all are welcome, either here or over there on Sketcharound. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Oooh, I just dated myself with Bueller, didn't I?