Blog Archive


The Execution of Marino Faliero

November 01, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
As a student of history, I’m forever seeking historic parallels with our tumultuous times, and I see such a parallel between a fourteenth century event and our current political situation.   When Thomas Jefferson was pondering appropriate words for The Declaration of Independence he looked to one of the few republics existing in the world at that time—Venice, an independent nation with a long history stretching back hundreds of years. By our standards, Venice was actually an oligarchy (rule by the wealthy) but it was slightly more democratic than the despotic monarchies of the age.   A crowning achievement of Venice’s power and glory is The Doge’s Palace, in particular the Hall of the Great Council, cap ...

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Peculiarities #7

November 03, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          In 1972, I joined a few of my UCLA buddies on a trip to the Nuart Theater in Santa Monica to see Harold and Maude. When the movie ended we walked down the street and passed an antique/junk store. A wooden gumball machine in the window caught my eye. It’s hard to explain why something calls out to you but this gumball machine spoke to me, wanted to go home with me. My friends laughed at me for even wanting it. The price was thirty dollars, but I only had twenty after blowing a sawbuck on my ticket, candy and popcorn. The owner of the store sold it to me for twenty dollars and I’ve had it ever since.       My gumball machine     I’ve done a little on ...

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November 06, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Mrs. Chatterbox recently asked a question that I tried to answer truthfully, but my response prompted a conversation I’d like to have discussed in a broader arena.   Mrs. C. made a trip to one of her favorite clothing stores and selected a blouse (women call them tops). At the register, the cashier said, “This is a popular top. I’ve rung up four of them today.”   Mrs. C. admitted that this comment bothered her, made her feel like what she was purchasing wasn’t special. She still made the purchase but her enthusiasm for it was gone. I commented that it was foolish for her to think she was buying anything unique when it was purchased off the “rack.” Unless someone like Oscar de la Renta ...

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Look at What I Found!

November 08, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
One of my favorite blogging friends, Val the Victorian at Unbagging the Cats, often posts about finding pennies that remind her of her late mother. Because of her, I’m now looking for pennies, and several days ago while exiting the Goodwill during my weekly quest for oil painting frames, I looked down and spotted something in a plant divider between parking spaces. It wasn’t a penny, but it did catch my attention.   Mrs. Chatterbox loves platitudes and inspiring messages, and once gave me a token she’d bought because she thought it had “Write” written on it. She figured it might inspire me. Unfortunately, when I studied it more closely I realized it didn’t say “WRITE”; it said “UN ...

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Four Bits

November 10, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I’m just going to come out and admit that I’m oddly shaped. My legs are short but my torso is long, so long, in fact, that whenever I’m seated at a group gathering I’m always the tallest person present, that is until I stand. Because my legs are short I experience a problem when sitting that most people don’t have: change is constantly spilling out of my pockets. The last time I gathered up the change beneath cushions in our house the amount totaled $128.00.             Several months ago I was in a particularly nostalgic mood, remembering when movie theaters had velvet curtains that opened and closed, and cars had curb feelers, metal whiskers to alert el ...

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Sexual Tsunami

November 13, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Because of all the salacious stories hitting the media, one might think humans discovered sex about a week and a half ago and it’s still something mysterious and uncontrollable. Many actors and politicians have been caught in scandals threatening to end their careers or worse—prompt criminal charges. It’s difficult to separate who’s actually been victimized from who’s seeking their fifteen minutes of fame.   In most instances, I tend to believe the accusers, usually women, and I’m not persuaded by the argument that these victims should have come forward sooner. Victims are conditioned to blame themselves, as if they were responsible, and too often they’ve carried their stories to the grave. ...

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Night Shift

November 15, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Since returning from his honeymoon, our son CJ has been working the night shift at a nearby police department where, as a mechanic, he services police vehicles. This got me thinking about the only time I worked graveyard, back in the early 70s during a break from college. My mother worked at the Almaden bottling plant in Los Gatos, California, and she pulled a few strings to get me a job, just as she had for my older brother a few years earlier.             I was assigned to a wiry little Italian man around sixty. He didn’t speak much English. He guided me to a conveyor belt that rose to the top of the two story warehouse and disappeared into an opening near the ceiling on the f ...

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Four Hundred Million and Change

November 17, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
By now most people have heard about the record breaking sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Salvator Mundi (Latin for Savior of the World), which was recently hammered down at auction for $450,312,500, making it the most expensive work of art ever offered for sale. The previous record was held by Picasso, whose Women of Algiers smashed auction records a few years ago, selling for 179 million.   Art scholars and enthusiasts like myself have long been familiar with this Leonardo painting, which has always been controversial. Salvator Mundi was a theme popular with Northern European artists like the Van Eyck brothers and Durer, and for centuries it was thought Leonardo’s painting had been lost. The painting recently fetchin ...

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November 20, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
          Now that the temperature has dropped in Portland, I’m unable to paint in the garage. I could use a portable heater, but the light just isn’t good enough to paint by. When I was a kid I tried to paint indoors and when I took my work outside my colors were terrible, jaundiced and pasty. Besides, I don’t like leaving my RAV out in the snow and ice. I was feeling antsy at not being able to work and decided to try something I’ve never done before—charcoal drawing.       I’ve never focused on drawing. Most of my sketches have been exploratory preparations for paintings. I’ve not done drawings for their own sake. But “natural” light i ...

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 22, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      This was one of my first illustrations after opening my illustration business. I was happy to comply with the client’s desire for a Norman Rockwell “Thanksgiving” scene but I was disappointed when the clients (who I can’t remember) informed me they only had enough money to publish it in black and white. This is painted in acrylic on canvas. I really should colorize it, if only for my own amusement.         I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you’re traveling for the holiday, travel safe. Take care, and eat pie for me.         Follow my blog with Bloglovin       ...

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A Perfect Day

November 27, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The Declaration of Independence codifies “the pursuit of happiness” as a right of all Americans, yet many of us don’t even know if we’re happy. Can we be happy and not know it? Is happiness something we have or lack? Does it drop on us like Newton’s apple or is it something that must be worked at, achieved?   There are many reasons we struggle with happiness. I think people are much too passive about it. I believe happiness needs to be worked at, acknowledged. I’m thinking about this because I recently experienced a rarity—a perfect day. It put me in a happy mood that needed to be savored.   When Mrs. Chatterbox and I were raising our little boy, we were too busy to be happy. We were b ...

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Adding Insult to Injury

November 29, 2017
Many of us are aware of the significant role Navajo Americans played during World War II. U.S. forces were unable to create a code the Japanese couldn’t break, until someone had a brilliant idea— use Navajo, an oral language indecipherable by the Japanese, as a code.   This week, Donald Trump once again proved himself unfit for the presidency when he denigrated a U.S. senator with a racial slur during what would otherwise have been an uplifting ceremony. He used the occasion to demean Elizabeth Warren by again referring to her as Pocahontas.   This was bad enough, but the hairs on the back of my neck were already standing up because of the image flashing on my TV screen. The last three Navajo code talkers, now in t ...

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