i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

Cindy saved me a seat at the table – she died four days ago

I wanted to go the women’s breakfast. But I didn’t have anyone to sit with. Too many church dinners and women’s breakfasts in my past where I went to sit down and someone said, “This seat is saved.” But it wasn’t saved for me. Everyone already had a friend. There was no room at the […]

You don’t need permission to create or make a life-size cat

For the last three years, I wanted to illustrate a story my cat, Pooh Hodges, wrote about how to become a cat. But I wasn’t sure what a drawing of a guy wearing tighty whities would look like. I hesitated for three years. Because, well, I was worried someone might not like my illustrations.   “Don’t think about […]

Be like Vincent Van Gogh and don’t listen to the critics

The book Lust For Life, a biographical novel about Vincent Van Gogh, is 488 pages. I am on page 312. Vincent has just moved to Paris and is living with his brother Theo. On page 312 he is looking at a painting by Georges Seurat, in Seurat’s studio. Van Gogh hasn’t cut off his ear yet, or shot […]

A bin of broken concrete, past hurts and living with joy today

This morning when I walked Annie I saw a construction garbage bin full of concrete from the sidewalks the township is repairing. The bin was full.  It would never be moved; it was too heavy. Each pice of concrete is a past hurt, a deep sorrow, a memory of words that wounded you. We have […]

Broken concrete — X marks the spot

There are cracks in the sidewalk in my neighborhood. Last week, a white X was sprayed on each crack.  Every crack will be repaired.   X marks the spot. My body is covered in white X marks. Some of the X’s I sprayed myself, and some of the X’s were sprayed by other people. Mistakes. […]

Take a can of wasp spray to your negative thinking

Wasps were building a nest in the lamp between the two garage doors. They built the nest behind the light bulb. The wasps would keep making the nest bigger if we didn’t take it down. The wasp nest is like negative thinking. Negative thinking is like the wasp nest. You don’t want it, it won’t […]

Did you forget you are going to die one day?

Today I read Section B, page 4 in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Funeral Announcements. I knew what the page was before I read the headline. Photographs centered over one column width, bold names flush left.  Dead people: Robert, adored grandfather of ten, Miriam, beloved wife of the late Alfred, James, beloved husband of Beverly. I forgot that I’m going to […]

It doesn’t matter how fast you ride your bike down a hill —

My friend and I were at the top of a steep hill on our bikes. She went first. She went down the hill with her hands raised high over her head; she didn’t touch her handlebars or her brakes. I wanted to ride my bike down the hill with my hands over my head like […]

To live as an open beamed ceiling

The ceiling in the office building was open; the beams were exposed, the wiring was visible. The ceiling was honest, it wasn’t hiding behind drywall and plaster. As if the ceiling was saying, “Here I am. This is me.” The ceiling was willing to be vulnerable. We start life as an open beamed ceiling, and […]

Leave room in your day for joy and flowers

This year I wasn’t going to plant flowers in the flower beds in the front yard. This growing season I was only going to work on my writing and painting. There was no time in my day to plant flower seeds.   I forgot about flowers until I went to the hardware store to buy […]