Before you part with your art!

Get good photos!!!

Back when I used to paint daily I wish I had had a better understanding of how to photograph my work. Over four decades of work and less than a few decent photos to show for it makes me a bit sad.

A year ago I created an online store for people to order my work as prints and on merchandise. In setting up the store I found I really didn’t have many decent photos that i could use. So I decided to reach out to people that have my work and I requested photos. At first most of my past patrons were not doing such a great job at meeting my requests. I started talking to other artists and asking for advice that did not involve having all my customers hire a pro! The results of my tips and advice got some awesome results. I now have a few dozen photos of work from my past that I can upload into my store! I have created a blog on the topic to share some of the things I have learned. Most of the photos in the blog are of work I have collected from other artists. The cover photo is my work.

Seattle Space Needle

Pretzel Tree Trail Fairies

There have been a lot of new developments taking place on Squak Mountain over the past few months. As I hike in the evenings I have become friends with many of the forest creatures. Fern,an ambassador to the tooth fairy moved in over the 4th of July weekend. Her one story cabin in the woods can be spotted before you reach the exit of the Pretzel Tree Trail. Fern is shy, so please don’t knock on her door. 

Fern’s Cabin in the woods.

After being in town just a few days Fern sent a request for reinforcements. The tooth fairy council sent Bridget. Bridget loves being in the forest as her last duty station was downtown Issaquah. She has been having fun following hikers around the loop and listening to people reading the story. Her house is colorful just like her. If you walk quietly you just might hear her singing.

Bridget’s house

 With so much going on in the neighborhood Captain Ella K has also just moved in.She will be residing in The House with 3 Roofs. The House with 3 Roofs will be used as the Fairy Training Headquarters! It is a very busy place, so please try to talk softly as the fairies have a lot to learn and need to concentrate! 

Elle K (Training Head Quarters.)

Fairy Carol is not thrilled to have been re assigned to the woods as she was very happy at her Lake Sam Duty Station! You won’t believe what she did when she first arrived! On her first night in the forest she stayed up all night punching holes in the outer walls of her two story home. Then she added some blue glass to get more light inside! The roof of her home was made of pennies but she has covered most of those with moss as she really didn’t want to stand out. Now her home is a bit harder to spot as it blends in with the woods! Carol is usually up early and you can sometimes see her out near a creek taking in the sights and sounds of the forest and doing some plein air painting. 


Cindy Lou 

Friend of the Fairies

Counting Roadkill

As I was driving out in the middle of nowhere I found myself counting  roadkill as a distraction from the loneliness on the highway.  It had been hours since I had seen another car.   The speed limit was 80 and I was  probably doing  closer to 90 MPH.  70,  71, 72, I  continued counting roadkill.  I fantasized about   collecting all the skulls to  create some sort of monument.  A bit gruesome but I was sick of listening to the  same 3 cd’s and  radio stations   were not coming in.

 It was at roadkill  76 that as I sped passed I  glanced in my  rearview mirror and  saw the road kill stand up.  It looked like it was a man but I was moving  fast.  It was about  10 miles before I came to an exit and I  decided to   head back . The thought of someone being outside in the 104 degree heat with nothing around  was gnawing at me.  I  headed back west and  it was  2 miles to an  exit to  turn around. Maybe I was seeing things.  Once  I was heading  east again I  slowed down  and continued my game of counting  roadkill.  Then I saw him  lying on the side of the road. I stopped and  gave him water and he drank. I asked him if i could  take him somewhere and he looked at me and said, I am not getting in an automobile with a white woman. I  went to my car and  put all my water and  gatorade in a garbage bag and  left it with him. He looked at me and nodded as if to say thank you.  After leaving  him on the side of the road I  called 911 to  report a man sleeping next to roadkill on the highway and  shared that he would not let me  give him a lift.  I haven’t  been able to stop thinking about him.

Airing my laundry

My morning laundry

As I have been recovering from shoulder surgery the past week and a half it has been difficult for me to stay home. I was talking to my father in law the other night about how different Peter and I are and how it has not been all that horrible for Peter during Covid, sure he misses the lunches out with friends and the in person board game nights but most his hobbies and interests are things he does at home,
working, playing games, solving puzzles, and even zoom board games nights have helped him pass the time… as for me I am use to hitting the highway for a road trip, or heading off into the woods for a hike, this staying home to recover is driving me a bit nuts.

Back to the conversation with my father in law, we discussed how reclusive our children are and I said, “they’re a little bit like their dad”. Meaning they don’t really feel a need to contact their family very often. Another example I used in my conversation was that I try to talk to my sisters often and Peter has only talked to his brothers a few times in the past 33 years. The phone call was two nights ago and I thought it went well. The next day I even sent them the information they had request to contact our youngest offspring.

This morning I got this email from my mother-in-law. Who was never really my friend. I am sharing it here as a reminder to myself of her cruel and nasty nature. “Dad mentioned that you and he had a phone conversation the other nite when you mentioned that Peter was a “recluse”. Did it ever occur to you that he thinks most of your artsy friends are weird and that their art resembles someone who is on drugs. Some of their stuff you have published I would not give you 10 cents for. There is a fool born everyday and those who encourage them are bigger fools. Sorry, Cynthia, but I should have said this to you a long time ago.

“Peter and I are in the mist of divorcing but after 33 years we are friends and I have a hard time understanding how such a kind, thoughtful and compassionate soul could have come out of this mean spirited passive- aggressive woman. Thinking back over the years I am reminded of a call I made to her the first month we were married. I called to ask her for advice , her comment to me was, Don’t call me again to complain about my son.” Well my mother in law has often wondered why I call her Helen instead of mom but does it surprise any of you that I would choose not to.


Dreamy Oatmeal Cookies


1 cup( 2 sticks)of butter, softened. I leave mine out over night so its a room temperature

1 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 /2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

2 cups of all purpose flour

3 cups of oatmeal

  • optional: you can add a cup of raisins, nuts or chocolate chips or coconut for variety.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Using a mixer cream together butter ,sugars,eggs, and vanilla on low speed until smooth. Stir in Flour , Cinnamon, baking soda,baking powder and salt until blended. Add oatmeal an then add any of the optional items last. drop rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet, bake for 8-10 minutes . (My oven I need to bake them 10 minutes). Makes about 4 dozen cookies

No time limit

Do you ever wake up feeling like you want or need something but you don’t know what? When I wake up I usually have a list of things to do that I prepared the night before. My list generally consists of hour by hour tasks, chores, errands, and goals that I want to accomplish. I seldom get to everything on my list but that’s okay with me. I did not make a list last night, and I woke up at 0400 feeling alone and a bit empty inside. I decided to get out of bed. I put on my robe and slippers and went downstairs to make a cup of coffee. While drinking my coffee, I was in a bit of a trance as I have no recollection of what I was thinking about and as soon the cup was empty I grabbed my purse and left the house.

 I had no clue where I was going until an hour later I found myself at one of my favorite childhood spots. Owens Beach at Point Defiance Park.  I parked my car and went for a walk in my bathrobe and slippers. The sun was just starting to rise. I did not mind the cool breeze off the water. I walked the sidewalk in a bit of a daze, still unsure as to why I was there. I found a bench and sat to watch the sun’s reflection on the water and then it hit me. I knew why I was there.

It had been 40 years to the day since I lost my mom to Leukemia, and this was the last place I had been with her that was not a hospital.  My mom died at 38 years old. I guess I am lucky that she had me at 16 otherwise I might not remember her at all. 

Moments before she died, she told me that she would  be going home to help her father paint the morning sunrise. I sat on the bench in the cold, sobbing, until I was soaking wet from the rain. How could it have already been 40 years since she left us? I still miss her as if it were yesterday?

Once back home, I rummaged through old photo albums and boxes of photos trying to find her.  My efforts were wasted as all I could find were faded polaroids with ghost like figures. I wanted to see the sparkle in her eye as she smiled just one last time. I was denied this wish. 

Therapists and friends have talked to me and given me books on the steps of grieving but it is wrong to try to tell someone else how to feel, no matter what anyone has told me about grieving, I just won’t  put a time limit on my process.  

My grieving process started late as I was the oldest of three and I had to be helpful as there was no time to be sad or show emotion.  I needed to be strong and I was strong. I continued to be strong when my step-dad quickly took his life to join her. My mom and my step-dad had been married less than a year when she got her diagnosis  and those months were the happiest times in both their lives.  

Over the last 40 years I have come up with ways to cope with my pain and guilt. I know I was not the best daughter,  I was rebellious and selfish. I liked to do things my way. Mom and I had fights and screaming matches and I am not sure if I ever told her I was sorry. We were both children playing different roles. I  try to imagine what it would be like to have had a child a16 years old . Mom was still a child herself. She had dreams, and regrets and she shared them from her hospital bed. 

After she left, I was depressed, I had not  spent much time with my mom over those past few years. I was busy being a teenager. It wasn’t until a few years passed that I started to realize how little I really knew about my  mom.  

Days and years went by heck  who am I trying to fool? A decade or two or three went by and I still had not dealt with the loss. I often found myself sitting alone on the floor of my closet crying in the dark.  I kept rubber bands on my wrists and I would snap them to cause myself a bit more pain. I felt like I should be punished for not being a better daughter, I had been so selfish, throwing my tantrums because I wanted to do something and she would tell me no, I would go anyway and her and my step dad would go out looking for me sometimes for hours  and sometimes for days as I was good at hiding. As I look back now 40 years later all my memories of my mom seem to be about her trying to keep me safe and out of trouble. At the time it seemed like she was just trying to ruin my life.    

I try to remind myself each morning when I wake up that I am not my past choices and that as I move forward  I need to live for today and tomorrow and not yesterday. I have learned that we can’t keep people safe and that we all need our own reasons for doing or not doing something. 

These days I still keep rubber bands on my wrist but they are not there to cause myself pain they are there so I can put my hair up quickly. 😉

Molly doesn’t live here anymore

Mom didn’t believe that children needed many things, and dad went along whether he agreed or not. “A nice neat simple life”, I remember them constantly saying,” We can’t have the house looking like the Romper Room now can we?” I was told from the time I was a small child that it just wasn’t healthy to get attached to material things. Doing so was an outright sin as well as being considered greedy. 

The closer it got to my ninth birthday the worse I felt. The pain in my stomach was so bad I was sure that it felt just like someone was stabbing me with a knife. Later I learned that was not what being stabbed felt like at all but we won’t go into that here. I knew that if I were to die at that minute I would go straight to the burning pits of hell for what I was thinking about doing was certainly a huge sin. 

Every year a week before my birthday my parents would come to my room with a box, I was to put all the gifts from my previous birthday into the box. I would have about an hour to do this chore. After placing everything into the box my parents and I would go over a list of charities that were collecting toys for less fortunate children. Once we had picked one my parents would call and set up an appointment for us to deliver them. I never really minded this family tradition, until my ninth birthday.

Great Grandma La Gra had given Molly to me the previous year. Molly was the perfect friend. She was about 15 inches tall with long straight, dishwater blonde hair. Her skin was like porcelain even though she was made of plastic. Her lips were painted a soft pastel shade of pink. Her cheeks were flushed as if she were just kissed by a cool sweet breeze. Molly’s dress was white cotton with little pink roses on it. She wore bobby socks and little white sandals. She was not an expensive doll but Molly was more than just a stupid toy. Molly was my best friend. Oh how I loved Molly, I really didn’t want to put her in the box. 

The box sat outside my bedroom door for a couple of days. I had put a few of my other gifts from the previous year inside the box carefully. Then I hid Molly and when asked about her whereabouts I lied! I told my parents I had not seen her  and that I was concerned that she had run away. 

After a fifteen minute lecture that seemed more like three hours on the topic of how children today don’t take care of things. I thought I was off the hook and that they would move on. I was so wrong! Dear ol’ mom offered to go help me find the missing doll. My heart dropped all the way to my big toe. I thought for sure I was going to vomit. I can honestly say I don’t think I ever felt so panicked! What does one do when cornered,confess sins or keep  your mouth shut? Mom would find Molly in minutes and she did. Molly was now in the box and it was time to take the box to the children’s hospital. 

I remember thinking on the drive to the hospital that I would rather give a kidney or any other part of my body that someone should use if I could only keep my bestfriend. I knew it was pointless to argue. Once we arrived at the hospital I asked if I could give Molly to someone myself. My parents agreed as long as I promised not to pull anything stunts. If I could have donated my parents to charity on that hot summer day in late June , there is not a doubt in my mind that I would have. 

I walked from room to room visiting children passing out the items in the box. All that was left was Molly. I walked into a room where there was a girl about my age. She looked scary; I quickly covered Molly’s eyes! Some horrible person had lit her on fire. She was covered with scars; it scared me to look at her. Molly whispered to me to run! That is when the girl looked at me and smiled. It was a gentle smile. When she spoke her voice was soft and scared. She asked. “What is her name?” Molly I replied. Then out of the blue I handed her my best friend and said, “I brought her to keep you company.” She smiled and took her carefully and said, “Why thank you, it has been rather lonely here and with the burns the others say I am scary. “Molly will be a faithful friend,” I told her, “just love her and she will love you back.” and then I ran out of the room. I could not believe I had just given away my best friend. My life was now over. I would die from loneliness within the hour. 

Well 13 years later, I was still alive; I had not died of loneliness. I was now twenty –two married with a son. Life had gone on. I got an urgent call from my father. Someone had telephoned him with a message for me. Was an old classmate trying to locate me? I wrote the number down but I didn’t remember ever being friends with an Annie Svennson or any Ann for that matter. I stuck the paper with the number in my sweater pocket and went on about my day! Two weeks later my father called again and said, “Please call your friend, she keeps calling here for you.” 

Calling people on the phone was never something I liked doing. To make a call required a lot of guts! One just never really knows what the person on the other end of the line is going to say. After a few more calls from my dad I finally decided to suck it up and give this girl a call and ask her what the heck is up! Well I dialed the number counting to 10 between dialing each number! Yep, this was back in the days where you actually dialed a phone! One ring, two ring I still had time to hang up, when I heard a man say, “Hello this is Dave Svensson,” I asked to speak with Annie and he said, “you must be Cindy, she was hoping you would call” I explained that I had not been called Cindy since I was a child and that he should call me Cynthia. He said, very well and told me he would go get Annie. There was a silence l and I really wanted to hang up. Then I heard a voice that was vaguely familiar, “Can you meet me  for lunch?” she asked. 

Red Robin at 1:00 they really did make the best burgers, I got there right on time and was starving! I told the hostess I was expecting to meet someone. The hostess asked me my name and then she told me my party was waiting for me. As I walked towards the table I stopped short. My feet wouldn’t move. Oh my GOD! There she was, not Annie but Molly! I slowly made my way across the room to the table and stood in amazement and just starred. The hostess handed me a letter. Unable to speak I stood  there as still as a statue in shock. She looked just like I remembered. How did she find me? I picked her up to look at her and in my state of shock I forgot about the letter.

A few minutes later a waiter stopped and asked if I was ready to order. “Order, order what?” I asked. 

I picked up Molly and the letter and went out to my car. I sat staring at the envelope. It was off white with a bit of lace. On the back it had a wax stamp seal. It smelled like Lily of the valley. 

I carefully opened the envelope and on the inside was a letter written on a perfumed piece of Victorian style stationary. Dear Cindy, Thank you for sharing your best friend with me when no one else would be my friend. I enjoyed her company and I think she enjoyed mine. I have a husband and my own daughter now so I thought I should return her to you. I noticed many years ago that on the inside of Molly’s dress in dark pencil were the words , if lost please return to Cindy at WA2-4917. Cindy if you want to hear about some of the adventures that Molly and I shared give me a call at LE7 -1928. 

The story of Annie and Molly doesn’t end here. I wanted to hear about the adventures they shared and for three years we were the best of friends. Three years was all we had as Leukemia took Annie away from me. This time the pain was much worse  and felt much closer to being stabbed in the stomach and the heart. 

To comfort Annie’s  5 year old daughter Christina I  once again parted with Molly. I told Christina that Molly was an old friend of her moms, a great listener and that she would be her friend through thick and thin. Christina was delighted to have a friend that had shared so much of her mom’s life. For a year I spent almost every day with Christina, playing and sharing stories with her that her mom had shared with me. A year was all we had when Leukemia also took Christina. 

 I have kept Annie’s  journal about the adventures of Molly and I have my own journals that I try not to  open often as the pain of the memories seeps through the pages and I can still feel the pain  as if I had been stabbed yesterday. 

When birthdays roll around and I see gifts in boxes I am  instantly reminded of the dreaded birthday box and all the friends and family I have lost over the years. It took some losses to learn that time with people we love and care for is  much better than any gift that comes in a box or a bag.  As for Molly she has a prominent place on the top of my bookshelf and I  still tell her all my secrets. 

dreams come true

Some people dream of the Eiffel tour and the Musée du Louvre when they think of Paris. For me my dream was to enter and explore 59 Rivoli , walk the Pére Lachaise Cemetery , and hunt and admire the works of street artists. I was fortunate to able to accomplish all three of the above last month… and the Eiffel tower wasn’t all that bad either.

Is it normal to forget so quickly ?

I stopped at Fred Myers this morning to grab milk for my coffee and a few other things. When I entered the checkout line the lady in front of me was having a conversation with the checker about why her coupons were not working. The cashier explained and the lady took her groceries and left. Helen the cashier smiled and asked me if I was over 55 and then she started to scan my items. Apparently Tuesdays people over 55 get a discount. This post is not about the discount instead it is about Helen the cashier and the lady who was in front of me in line.

As Helen scanned my milk and cheese I noticed my balance was already $109. I said, “hold on I don’t think the lady in front of me paid or that is the most expensive container of milk and cheese I have ever bought.” Helen looked at me in a panic and said, ” oh I don’t have any idea which way she went , I am not sure I even know what she looks like.”and in a flash Helen took off out to the parking lot and left me standing there.

I packed up my stuff and moved over to another checker. The other checker told me Helen would most likely be fired for this mistake. As I was leaving the store Helen came back in through the opposite side of the store in which she left she had not been able to find the lady and she stopped to ask me if I had seen her leave, I had. I also told her, ” she was 5 foot 4 inches tall, grey wavy shoulder length hair and wearing blue slacks and a plaid shirt that had a nice pink strip and she had on every expensive earrings.

Two co workers and a manager stopped over to talk to Helen and I smiled and looked at them and said, “ladies, if you look to your left you will see the lady you are looking for. I am sure she will be happy to go back to the register to pay. ” The costumer was shopping in the jewelry store!

I find it sad that Helen and the costumer where having a conversation and in less than 30 seconds after the customer left Helen could not remember a thing about the costumer. The manager came up to me and thanked me for helping and offered me a coffee , I told her I would like to offer the coffee to the person in line at the in store Starbucks, she said that was fine.

Just a pretty picture from the ice caves as I wasn’t going to post a photo of Helen and the customer!