Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter!

The Easter Bunny came for a visit last night! (Apparently, he was in cahoots with our Gay Boyfriend.) What a nice surprise!! :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Family Day out in the Backyard!

Today was Family Day in the Backyard! My parents usually come over every month or so to help me do some heavy maintenance in the backyard. We had lunch first, with my Sister and Joe, who came back to our house for a quick visit before they had to leave. Dick was working from home today, and managed to get out for a bit to help us, too! Yay!

We had a lot to do today: my parents brought 12 bags of bark to spread. It's been two years since we last did it, and what a difference it makes! We also planned on trimming and shaping some of the taller hedges, mowing the lawn, edging, and general weeding.

We got a LOT done in a few hours time, and the yard looks fantastic.

Thanks, as always, Mom and Dad! We always appreciate all of your hard work, and willingness to help.

Christopher is cooking dinner for all of us now. What a nice day with family.

Dad, getting ready to start the work on the yard. Here he is with our 12 bags of bark

Mom supervising Dick as he shapes the hedges

My sister, up on the balcony, sipping water, saying, "Sorry I can't help out! Gotta go! :)

Dick mowing, my Mom trimming bushes, and Dad spreading the bark

Look how pretty!

Backyard from up high

Dad, relaxing outside, enjoying the view

Losing our view of the Bay Bridge

First things first:

File this under: "First World Problems". I know there are much worse problems to have than this.

That being said...

Sadly, we are about to lose our wonderful view of the Bay Bridge from our bedroom.

We knew this was coming. There's a house behind us which has been in disrepair for many years. When we bought our house, we knew that someday (probably soon) someone would buy that house and renovate it, and that the renovation would likely extend the house to it's furthest point, which would block our view.

...and it's happening now.

They demoed the top floor a couple of weeks ago, and have been building the framing for the last two weeks. At first, I was very optimistic that the back part of the house would have a lower roof line than the rest. If this were to happen, we'd be golden. Up until this morning, that looked like what might happen. They had been building up the peaked roof frame all the way from the front to the back 3/4 of the house. The part that was in the back had a slightly shorter wall height, and I was hopeful that perhaps that meant that the peaked roof wouldn't go all the way back.

here's a photo from last year showing the house in disrepair. It's the house close to the right side, just to the left of the blue house. You can see there was an uncovered floor, with no roof above it. This is what I was hoping may be built with a lower roof.

A photo I took this morning. You can see how the rest of the peaked roof is framed out, but not going all the way back. You can also see that their neighbor, two doors down to our right, has a room in the back of their house that has a lower roof than the rest of the house. This is how I was hoping it would be.

Alas, this went up around Noon today. Suddenly, the frame for the back of the house was put up, peaked roof and all

Luckily, it doesn't block out quite as much of our view as I thought it would. We can still see two of the Bay Bridge towers, which is certainly better than nothing.

Again, there are worse problems. I'm just a little bummed to lose that view.

In case you're wondering: in San Francisco, you don't have any rights to views, which I totally understand and agree with.

We were lucky to have that view for a couple of years. :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The "Spiffy Tiffy"!

My friend, Joe, who is visiting from Southern Cal for a few days, mentioned last night that he had recently seen a sandwich shop in the Castro featured on some Food Network show. I knew immediately that it must have been Ike's Place.

I offered that we could go there to lunch today. I sent him an email with the link to Ike's Menu so he could decide which sandwich to order. (I call early in the morning to place my order, which I can then pick up later in the day.) I accidentally included my sister in that email, and she assumed this would be for our lunch together on Friday. She asked me to order her a "Spiffy Tiffy". Now, mind you, this is especially funny because her name is Tiffini!

Anyhow, I was sorry to tell her that this was for today's lunch, not tomorrow's, and that she would not be getting a Spiffy Tiffy this week. :(

However, it did peak my interest, as I've been wanting to try a new sandwich at Ike's!

So, yes, I ordered a Spiffy Tiffy of my very own.

What's in it, you ask?

Spiffy Tiffy
Avocado, Halal Chicken, Mushrooms, Pepper Jack, Pesto, Provolone


Sis, you'll have to try one soon!

Spiffy Tiffy!

A Compassion Fund

just when you need renewed faith in human kind...

This is a pretty amazing story.

Over the weekend, Linda, the President of the Board of Directors of "In Our Lifetime" (the non-profit under which The Immediate Impact Walk was created) told a few of us about a young San Francisco woman, in her 30's who is in the end stage of metastatic breast cancer. She requires 24 hour care and cannot afford it. She needs help paying her rent and utilities. She has tapped out other resources but her need for care and financial assistance has increased.

Linda wondered how our non-profit could help ease the burden of some of her financial worries.

She set up a wepay page, and asked us to spread the word. She called the page a "Compassion Fund for a Young Woman with End Stage Breast Cancer". The goal was to raise $4,300 to cover rent and utilities for two months.

The page was shared via emails to friends and Facebook posts. Within 24 hours, we were only a couple of hundred dollars away from meeting the goal! Amazing. The spirit of giving, and spreading love and compassion came shining through.

I just looked at the page - only two days after it was launched, and I see 68 individual donors have now raised $4,585.00!

Many thanks to all who opened their hearts and their wallets to help this young woman who we have never met. I can't imagine the pain and struggles that she must be going through, and I could only hope that if I were ever in the same situation, that others would find a way to help.

If you are interested in learning more about this compassion fund please click here for more information.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Date Night with Joe Brinson!

My friend, Joe, is in town, visiting for a couple of days! We went to Harvey's in the Castro for dinner. I had remembered that it was Wednesday, Trivia Night there, and Joe thought it sounded like fun.

Joe was one of my sister's roommates in Dayton, OH in 1988/1989. They had moved out to join the Miller's Blackhawks color guard. I came out the following year, but sadly, never marched with Joe.

We had a great time, starting with burgers and ending with Mocha Cheesecake. Sometime during our meal, I realized that this was our first "date" together. We've been friends for over twenty years, but this was the first time we've ever been out with just the two of us.

The three rounds of the trivia contest were all based on Les Miserables - a topic we both felt fairly comfortable with. On the first round we answered 8 out of 10 questions correctly. Our first team name was "1470 West" in honor of the gay bar in Dayton where we used to all go.

On the second round, we changed our name to "One Gay More" - a spin in the Les Miz song, "One Day More". :) We tied with two other teams with 9 out of 10 correct answers. Joe volunteered me as out team representative for the bonus round. The three contestants had to answer one final question correctly, and I got it! The question was: President Obama used the Les Miz song, "One Day More" during his campaign. What other former President had used the same song during his campaign? Answer: Bill Clinton. :)

Joe and I each won a Blu Ray/DVD copy of the Les Miz movie, plus a set of movie coasters. Nice!

We had to leave before the third trivia round, as it was getting late, plus we figured someone else should get the chance to win. ;)

Fun first evening with Joe!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Asparagus Season

I'm in Stockton today, visiting my Grandma. She told us that our favorite Chinese restaurant where we usually have lunch has a special Fried Asparagus dish. I was delish!

I hadn't realized that it's already asparagus season. (I heart asparagus!) I also didn't know that there's an annual Asparagus Festival each year in Stockton. Grandma thinks it'll be sometime in April. Fun! :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The completed Woodward's Garden Oil Painting

Horray! Today, I finished my latest oil painting!

Woodward's Garden
oil on canvas
24" x 30"

I'm pretty happy with how this one turned out, and am thrilled to have it finished.

There were a lot of things to be done today before it was complete.

First things first: I worked on the faces of the two secondary figures. You might remember that the guy sitting at the corner was quite a challenge last week, and that I had issues of him facing forward. Ultimately, we decided that he was too distracting facing forward, and decided instead to having him looking to the the side (in front of him, rather than having his head turned towards the viewer). In order to do this, I asked Dean if he had any photos of a person in a similar pose, facing in the direction we needed. Amazingly, he was able to find a photo that was just perfect! I transposed the new figure's face on top of my figure's body. I think it looks MUCH better, and is no longer distracting from the rest of the painting. In person (rather than from this photo) the guy's eyes really aren't looking as much to our front as it may look.

We used another photo of another person to get more detail for the person sitting down in the background. The person sitting in my original photo barely has any detail at all, so we didn't have much to work with. I'm pleased that the new figure has just enough information without being too detailed.

I also darkened the back wall, and the painting that is hung on it. I think that helped to push the wall back a bit.

I also put a few more splashes of color and highlights throughout the painting, like on the pans, on the fruit, and on the counter.

This was a great experience and practice, as it was again very different from any of my other paintings so far. Wonder what the next painting will be?!

As usual, when I complete a painting, I'm putting photos of the progress from each session to refer back to:

The original photo

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five

Session Six

Session Seven - Completed Painting

From Paintings to Notecards

Last month, I had notecards made from images of three of my recent paintings. I'm really pleased with the final product!

I had them made through Costco's photo center online: Costco Photo Center. The notecards are 4-1/4 x 5-1/2, although they also have an option for 5 x 7 cards as well. I just made a blank photoshop file in those dimensions (at 300dpi) and and sized the image of the paintings inside the blank file. This allowed me to size and place the image exactly as I would want it to look on the final card.

There were great options for these cards: You could have any words printed on either side of the inside of the card. I chose to leave them as blank notecards, figuring that would be most versatile. I was also able to put the information about each painting (size, medium, date, and even a thumbnail!) on the back of the card! nice!

The quality of the cards are really good. I was most happy with the consistency of the color of each painting. Usually, it's difficult to match up the true color of a photo or painting to print. I was pleasantly surprised that these came out pretty true to life.

And the best part?

12 notecards (plus envelopes) for $7.99.

You can't beat that.

These cards are processed online, and are then sent via USPS. They can not be picked up in the Costco warehouses. It took about a week for them to be delivered to my house.

I chose these initial three paintings just to see how the card quality would turn out. Now that I know, I'll probably make a set for each of my paintings. It's a really nice way to share the images of my paintings with friends and family, and makes for a nice keepsake. In the chance that I may actually sell any of these paintings in the future, this will be a nice way to remember them.

the three sets of notecards I had made from images of some of my recent paintings

back of the ballerina card

back of the Dolores Street card

back of the Raggedy Ann card

I had an extra set of the ballerina painting made for Sophie's Mom, Alisa. She really loved them, too. :)

photo by Alisa

Fun Fact of the Day

Dick just woke me up with this random thought:

Dick is now the age that my parents were when he and I first started dating.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this one....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

figure drawing

Last night, I went to my first figure-drawing session in about 4 weeks. I had to miss a few due to our recent travels.

It was a very good night. The model was new to me, and was more curvaceous than most of the models we have. Curvier models are usually easier for me to draw, which was true last night.

Not sure why, but my 1 and 2 minute warm-up sketches were much larger than usual. Usually I fit four, sometimes 6 to a page. Last night I had two or three, or even just a single figure for the 2-minute sketches. I think this was because I felt looser, and was wanting to just focus on drawing continuous, (or, at least, not sketchy) contoured lines. On several of these, I started at the top, maybe with the head, and drew straight down to the feet in one motion. It was a technique I learned years and years ago when I first started drawing, but I haven't practiced it in a while. For some reason, it came more naturally last night. I think that these simple, contoured lines help lend towards more movement in the drawings.

I haven't been very good about posting picts of my drawings after each session, so I thought I should after last night's session since it has been a while. You'll see I'm including more two-minute poses here than I usually do.

one and two-minute poses

2 minute

2 minute

7 minute

10 minute

20 minute

20 minute

Sunday, March 17, 2013

WGI Union City Regional

I went down to my old stomping grounds of James Logan High School in Union City last night for the WGI Regional. It was GREAT fun - I had a chance to hang out for a few hours with several old and dear friends from our color guard marching days. We had a pretty big group form of folks who had marched in the 80s and 90s. It's funny - I wasn't actually in the same guard as most of these friends (wait - I just counted! Diana is the only person out of all of these friends who I ever actually marched with!), but we all became friends after years and years of competing with each other across the country, or teaching with each other. Year after year, at one guard show or another, I absolutely love having the chance to catch up with these friends. We all share a unique history that ties us together.

Usually, the WGI Union City Regional falls on the weekend when Dick and go to North Carolina for March Madness. Two things changed this year: it seems like the regional was a week earlier, plus, Dick and I decided not to travel for March Madness this year. (We'll be going to NC in April to visit family then.) I think this was my first time back at this regional in five years.

Anyhow, what a fun evening. I arrived during the last guard in Scholastic Open, then watched all of Independent Open, Scholastic World, and Ind World. Still plenty of guards to see!

I'm hoping to make it to the local Circuit Champs show at Independence HS in early April. See you all again soon!

Many, many guard friends who marched in the 80s and 90s

James Logan HS World Guard

Jolie, Trina, Freddie and Glenn!
I lost track of how many guards we have marched between the four of us

San Jose Raider friends

with Kamryn and Diana! Saturday was Kamryn's birthday! She's a junior at Logan now, in the World Guard. Happy Birthday, Kamryn!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Goorin Bros. Trunk Show in SF!

You may have noticed from many of the photos from our trip to Japan that Dick had brought his favorite hat. He had bought it at a shoe store (yes, shoe store) on Castro Street in 2009 when Paula and Reeves were visiting.

It's by a company in San Francisco called Goorin Bros. They've been around since 1895! They have a few shops in San Francisco, and we recently discovered their great store in North Beach.

Anyhow, Dick loved this hat. He wore it all the time. He wore it every day in Japan.

Unfortunately, on our last day in Japan, Dick accidentally forgot his hat as we were getting off the train from Kyoto to the airport. Poor hat. Poor Dick. He had made it the whole trip, without forgetting it, and he lost it at almost the last leg.

Well, there was nothing to be done. We didn't realize it until we were at the airport, and the train would have been well on its way.

We figured that the good news is that the company that made the hat was in San Francisco and that Dick could just get a new one!

Dick checked the website on Monday, and found out that they only had the hat available online in Small. He would need a medium or a large, so asked if I could call the store to see if they had any.

There are four stores in SF, and one in Berkeley (and a few spread out the US). I called the North Beach store and found out that although quite popular, they weren't going to be making that style hat anymore, and that they were out of stock. The other stores didn't have any in stock either.

It seemed dire.

Until, I heard from one of the store employees that the company would be having a Trunk Sale this week! He said there was a chance that they might still have a few of that specific model at the trunk sale.

The Trunk Sale was scheduled for Thurs, Fri and Sat. How's that for timing?

I went at 12:30 yesterday (Thursday). They had a large selection out, all well displayed. Rather than search for a needle in a haystack, I spoke with the employees and told them the story of Dick's lost hat. They immediately knew the hat model from the description (and I had the original email from Dick with the hat style). The sales guy knew there weren't any on the floor, but he offered to check the back for me.

10 minutes later, he came out with one hat, size Medium, in Black. Dick's last hat was brown, but I knew he'd be happy with any color, as long as the hat fit.

The other great part to this story? Trunk Sale price: $15.00.

How's that for a webTrina find?!

I found another similar hat for Dick that I thought he'd like (made of cloth, rather than straw), also $15 so I bought that for him, too.

The straw hat that we found was a little bent out of shape. The sales guy suggested that I bring it home, put it on a cylinder stand of some kind and steam it to reshape it. Dick was super happy to get his new hat!

The sale goes through tomorrow (Saturday). We may be going back to get Dick's hat stretched a bit, and to see what else they have.

one of the last pictures of Dick in his favorite hat

steaming the new hat