Sunday, November 29, 2009


Hello, friends and family.
Here’s the art. . .

My big brother, who is in the Air Force and currently serving in Afghanistan, read my newsletter last week about the house we grew up in, and chimed in with a few memories of his own. Here they are with comments by me in parentheses.

-Trying to get from one side of the living room to the other by climbing on the rocks.
(He’s being modest here. We could get anywhere without touching the floor. The living room was just a warm up exercise.)

-Filling the main door entrance with newspaper and then putting snake skins on the little bridge so mom had to walk through it.
(This sounds like it may have been on April Fool’s Day, which was strictly observed in our home. Here’s a picture of my mom’s retaliation some years later.)

-You playing sniper on the rooftop shooting cans I called out with our walkie talkies. I can’t remember the name of those headsets. Voice Ones?
(Correct! Voice Ones. Here’s a picture of that day of can sniping. I believe this is what psychiatrists call a red flag.)

-The big tree in the woods next to our house before the retention pond and building went in. That was a great woods.
(Remember when that flasher surprised Mom while she played racquetball, then ran into those woods? I’m pretty sure we armed ourselves when we played over there after that.)

-Numerous forts and holes in the back yard. . .with and without plumbing…
(Yes, a PVC pipe exiting a fort at a slant can really save a guy from having to stop the game for a bathroom break.)

Thanks, Morgan, for those memories.

Now, a bit of business. I mentioned a few newsletters back that Jo and I were working on an instructional DVD, and a few of you have asked about it since. We’ve put quite a bit of work into it, but I’m afraid we’ve decided to scrap this one and push right on to the next one. We made enough mistakes working on it that we’re just going to chalk it up to a learning experience and press forward. Our standards for ourselves are high, so we don’t want to put out anything that is substandard. But making these instructional DVDs is something that we’re serious about, so this set back won’t turn us around! We may be down, but we’re not out! So. . . Wonder Twin powers. . . ACTIVATE!
I dunno. It sounded like I was working up to something there. I just got confused about what it was.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Hello there.
Here’s what we‘ve made for you. . .

Yes, it’s almost Thanksgiving. Then before you know it, Christmas will be behind us and we’ll be in 2010. Maybe then I’ll stop writing 2008 on checks and at least progress to 2009. This time of year always makes me reflect on where I’m headed and where I’m from. Where I’m headed can be the topic of future newsletters as it unfolds, but I’d like to share with you where I’m from. It’s a long story, as you can imagine, so I’ll whittle this tale down to one house. This is the house that I lived in for most of my life in Maitland, Florida.

It’s not just a house, it’s a work of art. There’s not a rectangular room in the place. It was built in the 60’s by a modern architect named Frank Sheehy, who lived in it himself for a time. They threw a house warming party when it was finished and sealed up a wine bottle in the wall, leaving the bottom end of it sticking out into the dining room, and the open lip of it in the garage. They put the guest list of everyone there that night inside the bottle. Years later, my brother and I would fish it out with a pair of chopsticks and read it before putting it back in its rightful place.
There was a fish pond that started outside and continued on into the house. Goldfish could swim in and out through an underwater gap in the glass. A snake took advantage of this entrance once, sending my mom running for an ax. Another time I watched a raccoon reach in and grab our decorative water fountain as I sat up wide awake, too excited to sleep one Christmas Eve. There was ONE spot that we put the Christmas tree in every year, next to the fish pond. We tried it in a different spot one year and Christmas was ruined.

That stone wall by the fish pond is what I stared at every night out of my bedroom door. There were faces and whole nonsensical scenes that I imagined in the rock formations. I can still remember the old man diving down onto the goat head.
When I was in Junior High, I migrated to a bigger bedroom in the back of the house. It had a metal ceiling fan that was so low you could lose a finger to it if you weren’t careful. When I had friends over, we’d turn a strobe light on and make the fan seemingly come to a standstill before throwing all of the contents of the sock drawer into it.

Most of the walls of the house had plate glass windows from floor to ceiling. Everywhere you looked in the day time, you saw oak trees covered in Spanish moss, which over the years gave way to kudzu vines with heart shaped leaves. At night, those same windows would be pitch black and covered with bugs trying to get in to the light, only to get picked off by tree frogs.
I lost my first tooth in that house, came home from my first and last day of school to that house, brought my kids home from the hospital to that house, and finally backed up a moving truck to it before leaving for the Oregon Coast.
The new owners have since bulldozed the oaks and kudzu, put in sod as far as the eye can see, painted everything white, and generally poured mountains of cash into it. It’s a different house now, but I bet it still remembers me.


Monday, November 16, 2009


Hello, all.
Here’s the art. . .

And our patterns can be found here…
Our daughter applied for early decision this week to her first choice college. It was a somewhat tense week of proofreading and website building. Here’s the website we made together to showcase her art to them.
She put in her two-week notice at her job at the clothing store yesterday, so that she can concentrate on applying for grants and scholarships. But before she could end her career there, the place got robbed today while she was working. The pregnant manager was tied up in the backroom while the armed robber looted the safe. Fortunately, our daughter and the rest of the employees were unaware that any of this had happened until the police showed up after the fact. She was not the least bit rattled by her proximity to this dangerous situation. I guess that feeling of invincibility comes with youth.
I remember when Jo and I were still teenagers, and Jo worked late at night by herself at a sub shop in Orlando. This guy came in and said that the lump he was holding in his jacket pocket was a gun. Jo was not impressed.
“You don’t have a gun.”
“Yes I do.”
“Lemme see it.”
And with that Jo just gave him a face, which would later be reserved for me, and with an exaggerated motion of her hand, hit the alarm button. He left quickly without completing the transaction. Jo, like our daughter, was not rattled by the incident, though she did begin to call me after this whenever too many crazies were hanging around there. I would go up there and act crazy myself, making them feel unwelcome enough to leave. I was paid for my security services in sandwiches. It was at this time that I discovered that I did in fact like mayonnaise on my subs. Sorry, Dad.


Monday, November 9, 2009


Hello, jugglers.
Here’s what we made for you this week…

And our patterns can be found thusly…

I think my newsletters may be dangerous. Don’t worry, not to you. Just to me. It seems like every time I make some innocent reference to something in one of these here friendly updates, it comes back to bite me that very week. It’s happened more than once, but I‘m just starting to catch on. You may remember awhile back when I said something about liking the fact that all of the dangerous spots along the Oregon coast aren’t gated off, and that there are plenty of places to fall to your death, if you‘re into that sort of thing. Now don’t tell Jo, but shortly after writing that, I was hiking up at Cape Lookout and came closer than I care to admit to making that my sort of thing. Only my cat-like reflexes saved me.
More recently, the Central Time Zone took a swing at me while I was juggling. I’d better explain. First of all, the Central Time Zone did not appreciate my comment last week about the people living there being left on their own to calculate when things are happening elsewhere. I don’t think it liked me mentioning its name at all. Now, as far as the juggling act I was doing. . .I was actually juggling money, which has become quite the art form in the world these days. Know what I’m talking about? I can hand my landlord a check on the weekend with a smile on my face, but I know I’m going to be at the bank to make that check good on Monday morning as they unlock the doors. I’ve got to take my Paypal debit card to the ATM to get the cash I need to do so, but it will only let me take out a certain amount per day. Now, I needed two days worth of withdraws from Paypal to make this rent check good, but the second day found me at the ATM getting my card declined over and over. I came back home and called Paypal only to find out that they go by Central Time. So the night before at 10:30 Pacific Time when I took out money was the same day as far as they were concerned. But what about the rent check? Was the landlord on the way to the bank with my bouncy check? I had to do something, so I went to the grocery store and got cash back with my purchase. . .six times within two hours. I may have even done some costume changes in there too.
Isn’t juggling fun?


Sunday, November 1, 2009


Hello, all.
Here’s the art for now, and we’ll have more listed on Tuesday…
And if you haven’t found them by now, our patterns are on our eBay sister account, artbeforethehorse.
Yes, this newsletter is quite early, especially for me. My arch nemesis, daylight savings time, is ending and I’ve decided to randomly adjust my clock and use a calendar from 1982.
Actually, turning the clock back an hour may confuse things a bit concerning our auctions ending today. Everyone is so used to seeing them end at a certain time every week, but today they’ll be ending an hour earlier than normal. So if you’re on the east coast, they’ll end at 7:00 PM, and if you’re on the west coast they’ll end at 4:00 PM. If you live in the central or mountain time zones, you’re probably used to everyone letting you do the math yourself by now, so I’ll leave you to it.
Halloween passed us by here without many raps on the door. We always seem to live in a house away from busy trick-or-treating routes. We only got one trick-or-treater this year…a teenaged boy without a costume. You may be tempted to send these non-festive candy gatherers away empty handed, but this is really when you should consider the true and literal meaning of the phrase “trick or treat.”
Umm…I choose treat.
OK, I’ll leave you with a story from the ghost of Halloweens past. Our son was about four years old and was dressed as a cowboy. We knocked on the first door of the night, and when it opened, he went right in. By the second door of the night, he knew to stay out on the porch. He told the lady at the door, “Wow, you have a beautiful house!”
“Well, aren’t you sweet! Here, you get an extra piece of candy!”
Now on to the third door…
“Wow, you have a beautiful house!”
The kid learns fast.