Ghost Burglar Break-In

Technically it was the wee hours of the morning on July 5th but I still thought the loud crash at 2:07 A.M. was part of a random neighbor’s 4th of July home firework show.firework

As I registered the sound it occurred to me that what I heard was a loud THUMP followed glass breaking. G was already out of bed standing next to the door looking confused and adorable at the same time. We must have been a sight as I hunched down behind him, both of us scantly clad with bed head and slit eyes.  He doesn’t question that my position hiding behind him ensures he will encounter the bad guy first but I still fell kind of guilty.  Burglar RunningWe creep down the hall as graceful as cat burglars to the kitchen. It is at this time I suddenly realize if there IS an intruder we are barefoot and have no weapon.  My heart starts pounding but is soon relieved to see this:

Somehow a   blue vase has crashed to the ground. I am amp-ed up on adrenaline as grab a broom and start sweeping into the dustpan.  Still in the doorway and groggy, G is watching me……so I say “here, make yourself useful” and hand him the dustpan handle. img_7151

For SOME reason I get the giggles. Mostly because I realize I NEVER talk to him like that, and also because he does it on command.  Note to self, if one ever decides to order G about take a chance at 2:08 A.M.

“Where did the painting go!?” I exclaim.img_7153-1

We look around the kitchen and G replies “Ghosts” which is the first word he has said so far.  I keep sweeping and looking around for the painting.Cartoon Ghost

“Maybe it was stolen.” I say and then we look at each other and BURST OUT LAUGHING.  Perhaps I should explain our hysterics: 


The missing painting was created by me at a recent Wine and Paint party at a gallery.  To those who haven’t heard of Wine and Paint party here is the description: A group of friends attend a “class” hosted by a local gallery. Bring snacks & plenty of your favorite wine (oh, and an extra bottle to share with everyone else, wink).  The instructor takes her happy artists on a step by step journey to paint the exact same thing. Blue background, oval, another oval, (mine is looking like a green vagina at this stage), swipe some color, blob here, dot there…

Soon the wine kicks in and jokes about giving each other the  painting for Christmas and other such shenanigans ensue.We are amazed at the different versions we have created and notice someone (far right bottom row) paints it perfectly (DEBBIE) complete with glitter. Next step, sign our masterpieces with  sharpie and go  home.  Well ONE of us in the picture below (hint, the one with big earrings) looks a little TOO happy.  (Wine remember?)

Soooo- back to what is now 2:09 A.M., and the absurdity of someone breaking in to steal my paining  hits us hard. Giggling uncontrollably now while we look around, under, through for the painting.   Really though, where is it? WHERE IS IT?? G finally realizes it fell behind the desk trapped perfectly so that it doesn’t hit the ground which is quite anticlimactic to my wildly imagined scenarios.  I think the WALL JUST REJECTED MY ART

All is well again

So we hang it back up, turn off the light and head back to bed.  G is back asleep by 2:13 A.M. (How does he DO that?)  I however am now fully awake writing this post. Sigh.

Treasure Hunting At The Gem Show

Each February vendors come to Tucson, AZ to exhibit gems, minerals, fossils, boulders, and natural art at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.

5 ft and above for these crystal formations!

The logistics of shipping the tremendous amount of heavy rock always amazes me. In just a few weeks tons of material arrive in Tucson.   I picture an off-balance washing machine thumping away; except its the earth wobbling from the excess weight.2018-01-27_13-01-26_504.jpeg

I have my favorite venues.  The Co-Op on Oracle Rd  always has a large petrified wood room with  different tables on display every year.  I highly recommend hugging petrified tree millions of years old whenever one gets a chance.

Spectacular Petrified Wood Table.
Tables are made from slabs millions of years old.

My favorite room at the Co-Op has Septarian geodes from Utah. I check their room first thing on the first day as they are very popular.

Image result for utah geodes
Each Septarian Egg is unique.

The Co-Op is handicap accessible and always has fossils to see.


We tried the new venue advertised as the “upscale” 22nd street show.  Not my type of product but found some interesting art!

Warrior Woman made from metal and motorcycle chain hair!


These bat coffins are quite interesting.  However pants would have been a good idea.  I was not prepared to see bat genitalia so early in the morning.


Also proof that someone whacked that Geico lizard. Perhaps now we can stop contemplating why a Gecko selling insurance in the US has a UK accent and has access to Navy aircraft carriers.


In the olden days (I’d say even 10 years ago) there were only a few different venues hosting exhibits. It was easy to see in a couple of days. The fame of the Tucson Gem Show spread and now there are  venues  all over town.

The ever popular giant pink skull decor.

After the 4th or 5th venue it can feel like repetition, However, treasure may be right around the corner. 2018-01-28_14-03-55_966

I try to buy my supplies from returning vendors to show  support to them for coming back each year.  Half the fun of the treasure hunt is talking to the vendors and listen to their story.  People come from all over the world. There are so many different paths that lead to the Gem Show!

Lights show through the mineral creating fascinating patterns on the wall.

One of the more artistic booths has unique gem inlaid pictures.  Every year they exhibit and have a darkened room where the art is illuminated from behind. Impossible to capture the beauty  in a photo.

This pic doesn’t even come close.  Metal background, gem quality inlaid lapis, turquoise, & coral.

When I tell the exhibitor that ‘this is always one of my favorite booths”, she animatedly responds “Oh do you posses one of our pieces?”  I tell her “I wish”  as I run my hand over the cool metal and stone.2018-01-27_11-04-27_323

One of the returning booths only sells Himalayan Salt Lamps.  If you see one you want buy it because if you wait to “buy it on the way out so I can take it straight to the car” it  the treasure will be gone.

There are miles and miles of beads,





Who knew these fossilized poop emojis sell for $2,000?





Treasure hunters bring your walking shoes!   There is no place like the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.


Replenishing my supplies:  Hopefully enough to get me through 2018.  Until the next treasure hunt at least…

Turquoise all shapes and sizes


Ready to go!  Excited to use some of the new product in the projects. Stay tuned to


New Shoes For Baby Blue


Time to get Baby Blue some new shoes. Two & a quarter inch white wall American Classic tires. Mounted on chrome rims with baby moon hubs…whaaaaaaaat am I even saying right now?

So the other day G informs me that The tires on the 1951 Ford were 50 years old.  See  Old tires>>img_4607   the 51 is his retirement project that began  with a rusted out old Ford. This picture is after he had done the first layer of body work.image0013-1

Then one day I pulled in the garage and the top was cut off of the old car taking up the space I park.

He told me he was going to chop it (which is apparently difficult ) & French it (which conjures other images).  Then he said “Worst case we have a convertible!”  This did not ease my mind, but about a year later he accomplished it.

chopped-fordSo here it is just before paint, after hours and hours of patient body work. Lots of hours of hand sanding to get the angles right and the windows cut.



G looses track of time when he is working on the Ol’ Ford.  He would  sleep out there if it weren’t for me calling him in, like a mom calling a little kid playing kick the can until dark thirty on a summer night.  Here he is reworking the entire wiring system.

engine-on-a-stickOn to the engine which he kept on a stick covered with  a Toys R Us bag. (Which I found appropriate).



Then one day it was just time.  Time to put the engine where it belonged. It started right away to our delight.

After a lot of hard work it turned into a beautiful  piece of art.


Having old car means meet ups at burger joints and lots  of discussion about flatheads,   V8s , cams & other engine speak.  Meanwhile I am zoning out to the 50’s music and trying to ‘fit in’.


The key to happiness may be building a custom car, who knows.  All I know is it makes him happiest when he smells motor oil and hears the roar of a good strong engine.  Secretly I am glad that Baby Blue needed new shoes.  img_4626

G says it drives so much better he’s driving it everyday. Kachow!



Juanita Rides The Sky

As part of the memorial to Gary’s mom I painted an old carousel horse in her honor with symbols from her Cherokee heritage.

Meet” Juanita Rides The Sky”


Gary’s mother Juanita , born in 1925,  was raised with her 100% Cherokee Grandmother living with the family.  Grandma Root shared a bed with her and told stories to little Juanita of nature, lore, and  her own past on the Trail of Tears.  Juanita listened to Grandma Root’s stories every night. She  believed that everything in creation contained the Creator’s spirit and must be cherished and respected.  Juanita and her mother, Dolly,   were artists.  Juanita  often painting Kachinas and other southwestern art, giving it away to all her friends or leaving her art as part of a wall or house they moved away from. The symbols on the horse represent things about her and things we shared.


The base color is turquoise.   Juanita  worked in a fine jewelry store and sold Turquoise and silver jewelry. She had great knowledge of the gemstone and enjoyed meeting all of the artists symbolized by the jewel on the horse’s right thigh.  Some of our outings were to Silversmiths and she would identify the artist, the origin of the turquoise and the value. Blue was her favorite color and above the hooves is darker ombre.


The lightening bolt is a symbol that the warriors would paint on their horses legs to give their horses speed.Once when she was staying in a cabin in Sedona, she decided to ride her scooter back to her place. Her scooter has two settings; rabbit and turtle. She turned it on rabbit and rode off so fast in the wrong direction with Gary and I running after her.  She LOVED to go fast. She loved adventure.  The Lightening bolt signifies both.


One of Juanita’s favorite pastime was to find shapes in the clouds represented on the horse by the various  cloud symbols.  I remember riding in the back seat of a car with her on the way to Tombstone. After identifying many animals/people/shapes in the clouds, she leaned over to me and said “Honey, I think that cloud looks like a…”  and proceeded to show me her middle finger.  We laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks.


G’s red right hand print on the rear is the  symbol of safe journey and the spiral in the middle means home.  Safe journey home Juanita.You are safe now lovely woman.


There is a sun symbol that represents the Cherokee Sun Myth which the the when sun shines on the faces of the Cherokee people they  smile.  The symbol below it in black is also a type  sun symbol but signified the four directions of the earth


There’s even a blanket to keep her warm.   The feathers are representative of her love of birds and animals.  She could sit for hours identifying birds for me.  From the time she was a little girl she made pets of wild animals wherever she lived. One time it was a skunk family with a mommy, daddy and 8 babies who followed her everywhere (much to G’s dismay as it was at his Lodge).


The back of the saddle has her name written phonetically in Cherokee alphabet.  Many people don’t know that the Cherokee had a written language and published newspapers.  Grandma Root’s childhood home was a two story house on a river which they were taken from to be relocated to the reservation.  (Actually more than once as they ran away from the reservation back home again.)  The first symbol that kind of looks like an I = Wa sound. The  lower case fancy h=Ni  (long I sound) Fancy W=Ta.  There is no long E sound in the Cherokee language so it is wanIta. Note to the English Language: Isn’t it odd  that the word phonetically is not spelled phonetically.  Shouldn’t it be foneticly.


The red symbol on the rear is the Cherokee symbol for Love. Our  love for this tiny little 4’9″-90 pound woman was immeasurable.  She had the most melodic laugh and we would do anything to hear it. I miss her voice every day.


The hand on the shoulder represents life and the crossed arrows represent friendship.  Juanita gave second chances to so many young children.  She was a foster mother to 57 foster boys over the years.(Not a typo, really was 57!)   She gave them a second chance at life and was a friend when they needed one.She was my friend too and oh how  I miss her beautiful soul.


The lines below the thumb on the hand represent spring which was always her favorite time of year.  They also represent crops.  Every time we had a plant that was dying I would take it to her. She would talk to it, love it, and it would flourish.  She would call me and say “that dying lily you gave me has two blooms on it now!”  Of course it does.


“Juanita Rides The Sky” was painted with love for a beautiful spirit.  It symbolizes a tiny little woman who’s mark on this world was huge. She believed the Great Spirit/Creator was in every living thing. I hear her voice so often and feel her spirit everywhere.


Ride to the sky Juanita.  You are free!

Juanita Lorraine Kirk August 8th 1925 to September 9th 2015.

Juanita the teen years and at 90 years eating shrimp cocktail, having a Tecate beer, and wearing her hat sideways.


P.S. The Coca Cola base came with the horse.  I made it bright and new instead of antique looking because of something she said to me once as I was wheeling her about  at a restaurant in her wheelchair…

Me: “Nita, this is Tom Mix’s suit he wore in the movies. Do you want to see it?”

Juanita: “No, I saw it when it was new”

The Making:






Red Handed

I am working on a memorial art project as a tribute to G’s mom who passed away last year.  I find him outside and tell him I need a hand.  To which he begins a slow clap escalating to bravo and well done.

“No, I mean your ACTual hand. I need to paint your right hand red.”

G: “Can’t you use your own hand?”

Me: “It’s for your mom, it should be your hand.”

G: “I have a cut on my right hand.”

Me: “We can put liquid New Skin on it.”  (which he lets me do)

G: “HOLY CRAP THAT BURNS!!! It’s got alcohol in it! …. SMELL THAT!”

It smells like alcohol.

(I know I shouldn’t be laughing but NOW he is gyrating around while swirling his right hand.  When I ask him what he is doing he says;)

“I told you there was alcohol in it, my hand is drunk.”

Look what drunk hands can do!

…”and out of the smoke comes a tall handsome man with a dusty black coat and a red right hand.”  Peaky Blinders theme song.  Been singing it all day

Solar Cooking

Today the great smell of Chili Verde Meat  filled the air as the sun cooked a 4 pound roast to mouthwatering goodness.

Solar Oven made with found materials:  Wood Box, glass top,  metal box with 1/2″  Styrofoam between metal and wood.The box is  mounted on a  BBQ grill stand. The mirror is hard to see but has 2 black clips on top which hold it.  Mirror can be angled to pinpoint into pot and accelerate cooking.  Being on wheels we can change the angle with the sun.

This is a picture of the first of many solar cookers we made about five years ago all from recycled or found materials. We are still experimenting with design.  For example, I painted the inside of this  metal  box black thinking it would make it hotter. I soon found out that while black does create heat, cooking with the sun does not simply use heat to cook.


The science:  The UV light rays enter through the glass and then coverts to infrared light rays.  Infrared radiation makes  molecules vibrate in the food, releasing energy as heat. The glass lid traps the energy and the food cooks. I have to say that the texture of the meat is different than cooked in an oven, crock pot or smoked.  Once we cooked our Chile Verde this way it became our favorite.

Any slow cooker recipe works.  We even throw frozen lasagna in the solar oven and it is cooked perfectly when I get home from work.   I haven’t been able to bring myself to cook raw chicken yet.   The temp gets to be around 250 and even though the science states that UV light rays are doing the cooking, I don’t trust it for chicken.

We have found that a great UV accelerator that works  in our solar oven and actually I think would even work  in a cardboard box. We recently installed a Solatube skylight in our home. The bright reflective tube was too long so we cut off about 18″.  I think this is standard and one might be able to ask around to Solatube installers to ask if they would donate the excess. I am going to try that on my next one. The discarded piece is just large enough to encircle a crock pot insert and works efficiently.

There are a lot of different types of solar ovens out there. You Tube has a lot of how to instructions.    We  had fun trying to round up materials in our yard or off of Craigslist free. We use it year round and things don’t really cook much faster in the summer, but it sure makes a great way to keep the kitchen cool.



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