The books that have been on my nightstand.

I just finished reading Susan Vreeland’s Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Before that, I devoured Walter Isaacson’s, Leonardo da Vinci.


The former was about artist Clara Driscoll’s relationship with Louis Comfort Tiffany and his corporation. She was likely the creative force behind Tiffany getting into the lamp business. It was a fascinating look at what went into designing and manufacturing those amazing jewel-like windows and lights. The book also gave a glimpse of women’s lives in the early twentieth century.

Now I’m hoping to take a field trip to Winter Park Florida and visit the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. It houses the most comprehensive collection of the works by Louis Comfort Tiffany found anywhere.

The latter book was a 550 page, three and a half pound tome (yes, I weighed it) about the life, art, and genius of da Vinci. I learned so much. Did you know he only completed sixteen paintings in his long career as an artist?


Sixteen?  Why so few? It seems he loved the thrill of conception. But long before the painting was finished his endless wonder had moved him to other projects, completion being something of a chore. Plus he was a perfectionist unwilling to let go. He lugged Mona Lisa around for years, adding one bit of glaze over another repeatedly. Hence the depth of color and nuanced shading.

He dissected thirty cadavers to understand the skeleton, muscles, and tendons under the skin.


He was endlessly fascinated by everything, making long “to do” lists of things to investigate. (One example: describe a woodpeckers tongue. Have you ever given thought to the tongue of a woodpecker? I haven’t.)

Da Vinci’s brilliance spanned many disciplines. His curiosity drove him to seek to understand all of creation and how we fit into it.

In the book’s conclusion, Isaacson made of a list of things we can learn from Leonardo da Vinci. A few are as follows:

Be relentlessly curious.

Seek knowledge for its own sake.

Retain a childlike sense of wonder.

Get distracted. (This one baffled me until the author pointed out that Leonardo’s willingness to pursue any shiny subject that caught his eye made his mind richer and filled with more connections.)

Indulge fantasy.

See things unseen.

Let your reach exceed your grasp.


Start with the details.  After all, God is in the details.  Whether the phrase originated with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Aby Warburg, Gustave Flaubert, or someone else entirely, the point still remains – more often than not, when something goes screwy it’s because we forgot to pay attention to the details.

Create for yourself, not just for patrons. (This is one I struggle with due to many years of creating for clients, not for myself.)
Collaborate. Clara Driscoll did. DaVinci did. His most fun work came from collaborations on theatrical productions. Innovation is a team sport. I sure loved the collaborative endeavor of designing statuary and fountains with Mary Beth and, prior to that, the CJV team.  I co-wrote a picture book with friend Judy.  It was far superior to what I would have created by myself.  In fact, I wish I had someone to collaborate with now.


Make lists, take notes.

And finally: Be open to mystery.  

As for the description of the tongue of a woodpecker, author Isaacson investigated.  The tongue of a woodpecker can extend more than three times the length of its bill. When not in use it retracts into the skull.  In addition to digging out grubs, it winds around the bird’s head and protects the woodpecker’s brain. Smashing his beak into tree bark exerts a force on the head ten times what would kill a human.  The strange tongue acts as a cushion, shielding the brain from shock.

Leonardo da Vinci had no need for this information.  He just wanted to know.  Out of pure and fabulous curiosity.

Eating, Drinking and Merry Making

Four and a half years ago we moved to Florida. I was nervous about how we’d make friends. After all, we were old. No kids to pave the way to other parents. And we were NOT willing to adopt, thank you very much.

We moved, and I hoped a friend or two would turn up. YAY! Friendships abounded. But be careful what you wish for.
We got so many fun friends I am exhausted. And at risk of becoming fat.

Parties galore! Game night and we stayed up until midnight. Cookie exchange and I nibbled through a dozen Gluten Free delights. Christmas party at the neighbors. Lots of laughs and way too late into the night for decrepit me.

And there was the holiday housewalk in St. Pete. Wandered well over 10,000 steps all through the Historic Old Northeast with great friends–also transplants from Barrington, IL.

Wait wait…don’t tell me. There’s more.

I just unfolded my tired body and crept gingerly to our orange day-runner book. I think my joints cracked. I’m deaf so didn’t hear them popping. But I bet they did.

Calendar revealed the Bunco Christmas exchange. As well as another Christmas gift swap with nearly fifty women. Yes! Fifty warm bodies. Remember, I didn’t know ANYONE five years ago. Now I’m going to festivities for the masses. (Fifty is massive to me)

Yet to come? Another game night with surf and turf on the menu. Plus caroling with the neighbors, a Christmas Eve party, and Christmas day festivities.  And a New Year’s Eve cruise with party animals.

A plethora of delights. A bounty of buddies.

Jim and I have lots to be thankful for each and every day. When he and Bronson finally crawl out of the feathers, I’ll remind them how lucky we are. (Those two do retirement well)

As for me? Maybe it’s time for a nap.  Just recounting all the merrymaking wore me out.

I’ll go lie down on the sofa and say my gratitude prayers.  With luck, I’ll snooze.  Life is very good indeed.

Holiday Gifting

I drank oceans of coffee to create my holiday Bunko gift. I was jittery for weeks. But it was worth it! My goal? To have my gift swiped. Yes, I’m oddly pathetic. But I was happy that my Keurig Cup napkin rings were a hit.



Now, on to the next gift exchange party.  I made an ornament. Jim, when viewing it, said, “How nice we don’t have a tree for that monstrosity.”

So I dropped back and punted. The “monstrosity” will be a decoration tied onto the ribbon. The actual gift? Fun and an enormous secret. Need to sort out a way of wrapping that doesn’t call attention. I want to slide it under the tree incognito.


Carmelized Bacon!

Bacon. Sugar. Pecans. Maple Syrup. Add a few spices, bake at 375 degrees for thirty minutes. Cool. Eat.  Watch ass expand.

Christmas is coming; this goose is getting fat.


My appetizer for tonight’s Bunko Christmas gift exchange. Note to self:  Wear elastic waist pants.

Missing Child.

Child’s name:  Flat Stanley

Last Seen: Saturday, November 25th. Stanley was in an envelope placed in the streetside mailbox and bound for Galena, IL.

Wearing: Red short sleeved shirt, blue jeans with front pockets and one button, brown shoes.

Overall Appearance: Wide-eyed, curious gaze, full lips, short brown head hugging hair, no fingers, nose or ears.

Recent Photo:  Stanley2.jpg

Foul play is not suspected. If seen, please contact me.

(Not everyone here trusts that Stanley’s AWOL stature is accidental.  He’s a playful child and known to pull pranks.  Sliding under doorways and slipping between book pages are among his favorites.  I am currently attempting to recreate his “things gathered by Stanley” file.  Which meant microwaving more Spanish Moss.  Ugh. Stinky.)