Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Klee-Free, Sorry to Say

Have you seen the 2006 documentary Who the (Bleep) is Jackson Pollock? It's about a woman who buys an enormous "drip" painting from a thrift store for a sick friend who will not be able to keep it because it's too big to fit through the trailer door.

Friends encourage her to have it appraised. Art critics are skeptical about the unsigned work, but Pollock's fingerprint ultimately is found on the back of the canvas. In the years she has chased down its forensic history, no one has offered her the $50 million she says its worth.

I'm not sure her art experience has a happy ending, but it is one mind-blowing tale.

I tend to collect stories about people finding valuable paintings for nearly nothing. A $12.34 Calder lithograph at Goodwill ($9,000). A $7 Renoir at a Virginia flea market ($75, 000 to $100,000). My favorite is the public library in my hometown of Bronxville, NY, sold its donated (and overlooked for 50 years) Childe Hassam for over $4 million. 

Is there anything better than art with a killer happy ending?

Which is why I have rescinded my vow to not go to antique/thrift/junk/garage/markets in order to spare this house and my life from anything more except overlooked, priceless pieces of art.

Sadly, it appears that I am not alone on this quest.

The Bolingbrook Goodwill store was abuzz this morning with shoppers, many of whom were businessmen browsing on their lunch hour. (I say take your bluetooths and get back to work, businessmen.)

Scanning, scanning....
Bad art everywhere.

Really bad. 

Is it too much to ask to find a nice Paul Klee for a tiny price

instead of miles of bad flowers, fish, third place golf awards and Hannah Montana?

My pal Nancy says the odds of my finding a valuable piece of crystal are much greater. 

She may be right. But I want art.

PS My cousin John may have found a textile designed and painted by Marc Chagall. He is on the hunt to find out as much about it as possible. If its provenance can be proved, it may be worth considerably more than its $25 price tag.

I can feel my luck getting closer.

Each week, Naperville Now participates in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. Read what other Alphabetarians are writing about the letter K here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


This is Max.

His parents and siblings are vacationing in Orlando, land of abundant sunshine, breathtaking landscapes and parades on the half-hour.

This is Howie, Max's brother.

Clearly, they have been on Facebook and seen the pictures of everyone having fun with Goofy and Pluto in Paradise.

I have watched these critters conferring on the best way to take revenge on being left at home. Our carpet was mentioned twice.

It is my firm belief that all dogs need jobs. In that an ice storm is predicted for later this afternoon, I'm thinking sled-pulling is just the ticket.

(At the moment, it is 27 degrees and gray. I am trying to embrace the season and not be so crabby about winter. It doesn't seem to be working.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Grow Your Blog Party

While browsing through my collection of fave blogs, I ricocheted into Vicki's
2 Bags Full and her epic invitation to a Grow Your Blog Party on her website.

Naperville Now cannot resist any party -- or the opportunity to meet people who are as captivated by words and images as much as she is.

I've been blogging about what's in my head (Naperville, IL, is where my head is most of the time, thus the name) since 2009. I watched the character of Julie Powell start a blog in the film Julie and Julia and thought, "Cooking is way too much trouble, but I do know how to write."

I try for humor most days because there is sad aplenty in this world. So when things or people or situations strike me a certain way, I drift to the computer.

Hope you'll drift along with me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Just a Few Photos

It is 6 degrees this morning, so I am taking advantage of Chicago's killer winter to organize my husband's family's archives.

Think of it as photo scrap-booking 150 years in the making.

This is not hyperbole.

For reasons I have yet to discern, the JPs and their relatives (by blood and marriage) were huge on recording events with a camera but not down with photo albums.

The Christmas I sent my mother-in-law three white albums so she could fill them with her wedding pictures (1946), she chose to use them for her Europe vacation pictures (1990).

So we have inherited a tonnage of photographs, though keep in mind that what we have represents one-third of the total accumulation. (My sisters-in-law have their respective mountains.)

Once we got home with everything, the question was who/what/where/how to begin (and not get discouraged).

I decided surnames would be the easiest sorting system, followed by a best-guess chronology. 

So I started to flip pictures into boxes. Many, many boxes. Henry and Sarah, George and Hannah, Charles and Jennie, the farms, valentines, the unknowns.

I began with what and who I knew -- Betty, my wonderful mother-in-law.

Next came my father-in-law. (He was a great guy.)

A week later, I was up to 1946. Progress.

The top of the bench, my accidental sorting system, represents the 1950s. The 1970s is on parade on the floor out of camera range (which explains why I'm doing this in the basement.)

And then there is the late 19th to early 20th century stuff.

By the time this little project is completed, there will be 3, maybe 4, albums in all.

Of course, there is the newspaper collection. And the genealogical information.

They may have to wait until winter 2014.

Naperville Now participates each week in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. Read what other Alphabe-tarians are writing about the letter J.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Beth casually mentioned at book club that there might be a dead dog in our neighbor's backyard.

"Or maybe it's a log. I couldn't tell."

Beth explained that while reconnoitering our vacationing friend's house, she came within 5 feet of something-not-right and fled.

Fueled by a bit of the champagne we are known to enjoy at book club, we made plans to investigate just as soon as we got home.

Then we reconsidered.

We are nothing if cautious (bordering on scaredy).

The next morning, I met up with Beth to investigate this dead dog/log in the neighbor's yard.

"That's it," she pointed.


Polar bear?


"Well, it's not breathing," I replied many seconds later.

No entrails, which one might expect in this wooded area. There are coyotes about. And it is 12 fricking degrees.

But there was something about the paws.

Vinyl. And oozing stuffing.

Stupid stuffed animal.

Artfully posed and frozen to the ground.

 And no, we have no idea how it came to be there.

Monday, January 14, 2013

iDon't Get It

Back when music was simpler and free, I assembled a disk of the songs Dad used to sing around the house. Frank, LaVerne, Patty and Maxene. You know, Dad songs.

Ten years later, a replacement Cd was requested, so I started to hunt for those tracks on our old computer to make a new disk.

Somehow, the music gods figured out that I had downloaded music on the cheap with Napster. When I tried to upload these old tunes to a new disk,  smoke poured out of the CPU, followed by tiny men in black suits toting tiny pistols. They shot my music dead, and there was nothing for it except to buy the tracks that I wanted.

I've never understood the whole iTunes thing. I just don't think that big. And truthfully, in my lifetime, I will probably download a total of 25 songs.

We have an upscale radio in the kitchen that plays Cds, so when I am forced to cook, I can pop in a disk and be-bop with the best of them. It works, sounds great and I am happy (except for the cooking part).

But I am not an iTunes gal, for the most part, which is a good thing. Making this new disk nearly killed me. Remembering my Apple password, transferring the songs from point A to point B, buying the right dang disk. It's just not a language that I speak.

As I write this post, however, I am happy to say that I finally got the 13 tracks to play one after the other (that would be hard why?) and the cover art completed (replacing the ink cartridges really makes a difference).

In case you were wondering, these are the tracks:

Without a Song – Perry Como 
You'll Never Know – Rosemary Clooney
The Last Time I Saw Paris – Kiri Te Kanawa
I Didn't Know What Time It Was – Ella Fitzgerald
A Foggy Day in London Town – Michael BublĂ©
La Vie en Rose – Edith Piaf
September Song – Frank Sinatra
I'll Be Seeing You – Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
I'll Never Smile Again – Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
Sous le Ciel – Edith Piaf
Mack the Knife – Bobby Darrin
Mr. Sandman – The Chordettes
Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree – The Andrews Sisters

Dad could sing the first 10 words of nearly every song written in the 20th century. Beyond that, he was a champion hummer.

Each week, Naperville Now participates in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. See what everyone is writing about the letter I here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


In these days after Christmas, when we are plugging in our new toys and returning sweaters that might have fit in 8th grade, it occurs to me that I need to think more intentionally about gifts.

Here's why:

This No. 4D Small Parts Cabinet was a gift from my college pal Joyce. The label says Suggested uses: Home work shop, sewing room, child's room, stock room, gas stations, radio shops, watchmakers.

Truth be told, I am a small box junkie. But this is not just any kind of industrial gray box. No, ma'am. This is a creatively inspired box collage, pieced from Joyce's heart. 

Its contents are about me, about Joyce, and about what can inspire us. And what can make us laugh. ("We have a kitchen because it came with the house," says the strip of paper in the corner.)

It's about writing in colors and maybe adding French fleur-de-lis ribbon to a quilt that I  finally started making last week. (Joyce and I chose the fabrics for this particular project, oh, two years ago. Maybe longer.)

It's about mother-of-pearl buttons from her Mom's button box. And pictures of Joyce's parents, heartbreakingly young. (This was the drawer that made me cry on my birthday. I can only manage a quick peek every once in awhile.)
The last drawer has a new pair of embroidery scissors, Glue Dots and this picture:

This would be Joyce successfully creeping me out with the notion of a hand, which happens to be hers, plunging naked into a candy bowl. The setting was our daughter's wedding in August, and yes, I am in therapy, possibly forever, because of it.

So, 349 days to get my act together, if the Christmas Countdown Clock is to be believed. I don't know if I can rise to a box collage of this caliber for everyone on my list, but try I shall.

Any gifts stand out for you? Or are you just as happy with a bottle of aftershave and a Florida fruit basket? Leave a note in the comments section. And please, for me, always use the candy scoop.

Each week Naperville Now participates in Mrs. Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. This week we are studying the letter H. See what other Alphabetarians are writing about here.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


As you know, Naperville Now cannot resist a rescue story.

Remember Pepper, the lost Staffordshire mix? She appeared in a New Year's Eve post last year.

Abandoned in Tennessee, she was a sweet and calm dog. A new mother with no puppies and a back story we can never know.

Her first responders, on their way home for the holidays, already had two ginormous dogs of their own. So, phone calls were made and prayers offered up as they drove home for Christmas, 3 dogs packed in the backseat and presents piled in the trunk.

After interviewing a herd of Chihuahuas in Chicago, Pepper decided to keep looking for a new home in the suburbs. She found her forever girl the next day.

They are best buds.

Here's to everyone making (or thinking about making) a brand new start in the New Year.