Blog Archive

02/2016

The Lighter Side of Brain Surgery

February 01, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
On Friday CJ had a final surgery to clip his aneurysm. The procedure took four hours and went remarkably well. We were told his speech and mobility might be affected for a few days, but so far this hasn’t been the case. When not knocked out by morphine and fentanyl, he’s been good natured and chatty—well, he is a chip off the old block. He does have an incision with fifty staples stretching from his left ear to the middle of his forehead, but the doctors were considerate enough to make their incision well into CJ’s hairline so, once healed, it will barely show. For weeks I’ve been reassuring our son that chicks dig “scars” (as if I’d know) but now it seems he won’t be sporting a visible ...

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Hair / Loss

February 03, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
    Mocking the misfortune of others is a good way to invite bad karma, but I was too busy bringing our son CJ home from the hospital yesterday to pen anything worth reading. Instead of skipping a post, I’ll risk bad karma by posting these pictures that made me laugh.     Karma may have the last laugh since Trump is currently ahead of Cruz in many upcoming primaries. While I dislike Trump and believe he’d make a terrible president, Cruz, the winner of the Iowa Caucus, scares me more.      What do you mean the people of Iowa FIRED ME?                         Follow my blog with Bloglovin ...

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The Fill Up

February 05, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Reworked from 2012.   In 1942 he was a lanky sixteen year old and glad to have a job pumping gas, checking oil and washing windshields at a Texaco in Modesto, California. Most of the men had dashed off to war or he wouldn’t have landed this job. He had numerous brothers and sisters. Now he was able to contribute money to the jar on the kitchen shelf to pay for food and a roof over their heads.   He’d just finished filling the tank of an old farm truck when a shiny black Buick pulled into the station. He’d seen the expensive car a few times and recognized the man behind the wheel. An icy claw must have squeezed his heart—he’d never been this close to the driver. It’s easy to imagine him runni ...

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Protest II: Finale

February 08, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Over the past few months much has happened at Casa Chatterbox and I just now realized I never posted final pictures of Protest II, my effort to recreate a smaller version of a massive painting I created fifteen years ago. Both versions of The Protest show a group of people on the steps of a public building. Some are actively engaged in a protest while others, like the bag lady with the shopping cart, pass this spot every day and have been swept up in the action. I haven’t stated what this protest is about, leaving it to the viewer to figure it out; there is no correct answer. I like painting people, and placing them on steps makes it possible to flesh out many personalities without those in the foreground blocking those behind.   ...

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Music of the Night

February 10, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My mother is being haunted by the music of the night, but not the pellucid notes of Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s hearing voices. Lately, we’ve been having conversations like this:   “How was your night, Mom? Did you finally get a good night’s sleep?”   “No! I’m hearing that music again!”   “Is it possible you’re imagining it? Could it be in your head?”   “Listen, Buster, I may be old but I’m not senile. I know when I’m hearing something.”   “Did it start up again at exactly 2:00?”   “Yes, but it didn’t wake me. I woke and then heard it.”   “I think you’re hearing i ...

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Face Off

February 12, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I ventured out last night to see a documentary on the Spanish artist Francisco Goya. Goya is a personal favorite, a painter whose bravado, womanizing (he was rumored to have had an affair with the Duchess of Alba) and deafness have long captured the public’s imagination. His flirting with danger caused him to come in conflict with the Spanish Inquisition, especially when he painted female nudes like The Naked Maja. Goya was a superb portraitist when he chose to be.   In spite of his interest in etching and lithography, Goya’s income was always dependent on portraits of the rich and powerful. Surprisingly, his sitters didn’t mind his frank assessment of them. His brush cut through pretense to lay ...

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The Madonna and the RV

February 15, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It was an unsettling debate. Rest assured I’m not about to launch into a diatribe on the fiasco that was Saturday night’s CBS Republican debate. I’m here to dip my toe into waters far more contentious than an exchange over who should be our next president. Recently, Mrs. Chatterbox and I had an energetic discussion over who is more inclined to hold grudges—men or women.   This started during a recent visit with my mother at her assisted living facility. She launched into a discussion about how my late father took great care with his possessions while not giving proper consideration to her things. I mentioned that I always observed Dad taking care of everyone’s belongings, often fixing things she managed ...

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Sweet and Sour

February 17, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Reworked from a 2012 post.             This picture was taken in Sorrento, Italy. Those sunglasses are large enough to fit around my big head. When I snapped this I was reminded of an incident I hadn’t thought about since fourth grade.   My Portuguese grandpa had a green thumb and could grow just about anything. He was hard of hearing and didn’t mind me shadowing him and pelting him with questions he either ignored or couldn’t hear.   Behind his house grew a small grove of fruit trees he used for making brandies. But another tree in his front yard always drew attention; one side yielded oranges and the other side apples—Grandpa had grafted two trees to ...

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Feast or Famine

February 19, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                For hundreds of years, few words struck more terror than those calling you to appear before the Roman Catholic Inquisition. In 1573, Venetian painter Paolo Veronese was summoned to appear before the Inquisition to answer for the irreverence of his painting The Last Supper, designed to cover the entire rear wall of a Dominican refectory and one of the largest paintings of the sixteenth century.       The Feast in the House of Levi by Veronese (1573)       Center scene (Detail)   In Florence and Rome most large paintings, like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and Last Judgment, were done in fresco—wet plaster appli ...

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Peculiar Travel pictures

February 22, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
        As regular followers of this blog know, I’m a retired illustrator and from time to time I post peculiar pictures I created for clients, pictures that for one reason or another were never published. This time I’m posting a few peculiar pictures I snapped while on vacation with Mrs. Chatterbox. There’s no rhyme nor reason to these pictures; they just made me smile.       This picture was snapped in the lobby of a hotel in Izmir, Turkey. If they didn’t want people smoking, why place ashtrays on every table? Note: I emptied the ashes before taking this picture.       Hong Kong has many islands and on one of them I spotted this statue in a four- hun ...

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Weird On Ice

February 24, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I can’t recall how the subject came up, but at a recent breakfast with some friends I found myself in a discussion about the strangest item ever placed in my freezer. Hey, one can only talk about politics for so long. Heads at nearby tables in the restaurant turned in my direction when I blurted out that the strangest item in our freezer was—a cat head.   I know many of you are fond of cats, but before you report me to the police for animal cruelty let me assure you that I’d never intentionally harm an animal. The cat head in our freezer was not real. It was made of white chocolate.   Mrs. Chatterbox was an Army brat and grew up in Germany where white chocolate was popular. When she and her family returned to ...

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Blubbery Infamy

February 26, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
It happened in 1970, ten years before Mrs. Chatterbox and I relocated from Southern California to Oregon. It was a moment sure to live forever in the annals of Oregon infamy. Until Bob Packwood (U.S. Senator 1969-1995) humiliated Oregon with his sexual peccadilloes or Tonya Harding (1994 Winter Olympics figure skater) soiled the state with her icy indifference to morality, this was Oregon’s great claim to shame.   In November of 1970 a dead sperm whale washed up on the beach at Florence, Oregon. The Oregon Highway Division settled on a questionable method to dispose of the rotting carcass. The solution for removing tons of rotting whale included—dynamite.   Years ago this video gained wide circulation when Dave Bar ...

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Durnstein Castle

February 29, 2016 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox and I were headed toward the famous Melk Monastery in the Wachau Region of Austria when our bus stopped so we could tour a vineyard in a region famous for producing Riesling wine. Having worked in a winery during college (Almaden Vineyards) I wasn’t much interested in seeing another winery but didn’t fancy sitting on the bus while everyone else toured the facility and sampled wine.             As we were walking among well-tended vines beneath a darkening sky, the ruins on a nearby hilltop caught my eye. I asked our guide about it.             “That is Dürnstein Castle,” I was told in ...

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