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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Winding down

One full day remains between me and the return to a level of reality that isn't quite the usual full-blown hectic circus. The kids have more vacation, but I'm back to work Monday after a week off. I'd forgotten how nice it is to take time off and stay home. It made today a day that I could literally just do things I wanted without worrying about obligations. Sweet.
Katy was unhappy that I'd gone into Chagrin Falls last week without her, so we went back today, and wandered the streets and drank a little coffee. She and Lylah explored while I scribbled the view (here) leading down to where the falls rush into the river. In clement weather (as opposed to inclement weather), you can descend those steps you see there, festooned now with lights, greenery and bows, and get up close to all that moving water. Round about this time of year, they keep the gate to the stairs shut to keep the ya-hoos from falling in and their survivors from suing the city (she said cynically).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Eve

Not much to add here. Having been away from the sketchbook for a few days too many, I went at this one with looseness in mind. Kinda worked.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Make 'em weep

How do you make a 12-year-old girl cry on Christmas morn?

Well, you could be mean to her ...

Or you could surprise her with a coveted object she thought was out of range ...

like tickets to THE JONAS BROTHERS (and, paranthetically, Hannah Montana).
She never saw it coming.
A special thanks to Katy, my co-conspirator, who proved to me - and to herself - that she can keep a reeeeally tough secret for a really long time.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Hey, sketchers and sketch fans and blog readers of all kinds-
I've been computer- and scanner-impaired recently while Santa prepares to bring me an upgrade. (Be prepared to send PhotoShop and Illustrator help in the new year, would you?)
I've also been sketch-challenged while attempting to put the finishing touches on the holiday.
But, with apologies to those who received an actual printed Christmas card from the Sandstrom-Wolff household this year (it looked an awful lot like this), please accept my little Christmas owls illo as a holiday love letter from me to you - especially the "yous" I've never met in the real world. I took a picture of my illustration with my camera, which explains the odd crop. I love my camera, but for purposes of reproducing art there's nothing like a real scanner.

Most of us are pretty fortunate, aren't we? I feel that way, and I hope you do, too. I also hope Santa brings you the person, place or thing your heart desires.

See you soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Raindrops on roses ...

How can iPods and crow's feet be on the same list, you ask?
Because I'm taking the "better than advertised" title of my list literally. While it is true that iPods are heavily advertised, I find the experience of them to be even better than promised. Meanwhile, crow's feet, if they're mentioned at all, are usually maligned, yet I find them, too, better than the rap they get.
Get it?
A word about "men wearing too much cologne." There was a guy who used to work at the office, now retired, who practically bathed in whatever it was he wore. I don't know what the cologne was, and I probably wouldn't have wanted to sit right next to him, but I kind of liked it when he'd walk by. He wasn't anyone I thought of in the same sentence as the word "attractive," but there was something civilized and throwback and kind of nice about the trade winds of scent blowing off him when he was in the neighborhood. I've also noticed that men wearing too much cologne are seldom in a so-sweet-it-gives-you-a-headache scent, an offense that their female counterparts so often commit.

To the list here I would add spiders and some television. I find the "Kill Your Television" bumper sticker people tiresome by now.

Whatcha think?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sacred cow, anyone?

All right, all right. This list sounds grumpy, I know, but really I don't intend it that way. It's simply a gentle little list of things I think I should like but in fact really don't. Further, I promise to follow it up with its inverse: Things that are better than advertised. But truly I have nothing against that second hole in your right ear, I promise. I even have the vestiges of one myself. It simply proved a less life-changing event than I expected at the time.
Incidentally, the ribbon candy was donated to me by someone I work with. I've always loved looking at it much more than eating it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Food Issues

Who among us, America women, escapes unscathed?
A better question: What else could we be doing with this energy?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Think of red
Think of kindling in the hearth
Think inside a cherry cordial
or knee-deep in berry bogs.

Think of red
Think of lighted lipstick stopsigns
Think of blushing grooms and apples
an embarrassed roundish bunch.

Now think of white
Think of blue on snowpressed slopes
Think of skies of suns gone missing
waiting, waiting for the red.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I find comfort in the thought of owls of all kinds keeping watch in the seasons of low skies and bare branches. Snow, feathers and wide eyes throw light on the shadows of stories told to me as a child, and while I cannot remember every tale, the owls were there, bearing witness. How else can I explain this?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Rock stars

In the world of bibliophilia, novelists Richard Russo and Russell Banks are about as headlining as you get. They're the rock stars, if you will, of the literary set, as long as you don't get caught up in the latest young literary thangs, which some people do.
Me, I like what tends to go along with age and experience, and so it was I felt happy to be in the audience for a presentation of Russo and Banks, moderated by my Plain Dealer colleague, film critic Clint O'Connor. The sketch kind of sucks, actually, but I was sitting some rows back, and it's just not all that easy to get a great sketch in a situation like this. Well, at least for me. I hasten to add that Clint on this page does not begin to resemble the actual person, though Banks (who reminds me of the actor who played Santa in the original "Miracle on 34th Street) and Russo do kind of look right in a gestural way.

The point is not how well can Karen draw the authors on stage 40 feet away, of course, the point is what these two guys had to say as they sat in the Ohio Theater, with the occasional flake of fake snow, left over from recent productions of "A Christmas Carol," descending noticeably in the stage lights.

You'll see some of the more interesting quotes as marginalia here. What most interested me was their discussions about their writing process, and I know Banks (whom, like Russo, I interviewed for the paper) puts a lot of stock in imagining who his characters are talking to when they're telling the parts of their stories they decide to tell. And Russo spoke of the difficulty he had with his new novel, a near-epic called "Bridge of Sighs," which he felt a very intimate connection to while he was writing but which he feared he might not finish because of structural problems. Any young would-be writer would do well to listen to writers like these, because you can't listen to them without coming away thinking, "No getting around it - writing is hard."

Russo also said something I think is probably true, and Banks concurred. It often happens that people become fans of the writer and feel they want to meet the author. He said, only half jokingly, that if you've read the work, in most cases you've seen the best the author has to give, and everything after that is all downhill. I know what he means. For writers, a good sentence or poem or story or novel is the best of his or her mind distilled, with (we hope) all the boring, awkward, slovenly, hateful, petty, and otherwise human characteristics shaken out.

Having said that, they were both pretty darned entertaining, and Banks is as fast on his feet as they come.

Click to read the marginalia. Don't know if Blogger has fixed their glitch yet, but hopefully it won't be too cumbersome.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Hostile Chair Hogs

About the time I was done with this, a guy came up (this is at a coffee shop), grabbed this chair, literally, dragged it over to another armchair, planted his butt in his chair and put his feet up on this one. All I can say is it was a good thing I was done.

P.S. Has anyone else noticed that all of a sudden if you click on these images to make them bigger, you end up having to create a file of them? It's not just my blog - I've noticed it on others. What's up with Blogger?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tower City

Not such a hot sketchcrawl day for Yours Truly, but I made a page just the same.