A Painting Makeover and a Happy Ending, by Jay


Growing Up Austin


Growing Up Austin

Life has been a mess and I can’t fix everything, but I decided I would fix the three blank canvases that had been hanging up in our loft for two years. I showed up at my friend Jay’s house with the blank canvases, a bag of brand new paints and printouts from Art.com.

The printouts were in two categories: 1) paintings I felt like I could recreate – a big blue square, a geometric pattern of thumb print smudges and a single swirly flower and 2) paintings I actually liked.

Jay threw out the category 1 printouts. She was serious. These paintings were going to be amazing.

She talked to me about the paintings I liked, then she placed the canvases next to each other on the table and went to work. She was in the moment, focused,  inspired and passionate, grabbing paints of all different colors, rolling, brushing and dripping, moving so fast she was all a blur.

At one point she paused and asked if I wanted to be doing more of the painting and I said no way, it was too much fun to watch her. This was after I did the first pass at the blue flowers, which is why they look a little funny.

She didn’t plan it all out, she went with themes I liked and with a few accent colors that would coordinate with our room. She worked in layers, talking with me now and then, to see where to go next.

While she was painting, she told me a story.

She had wanted to be an art major in college, but her Dad had said ‘no’. He didn’t want to pay for a college degree and then have Jay unable to find a job. So, Jay was a Communications major (with an Art minor) and she got a job in business after college.

Oh, no! Her dreams ended so early!

But wait, her story wasn’t over.

Now, Jay has a serious career with a successful company. She is happy to have the options and stability that comes with that. She does business for her day job and painting for fun. Sometimes she even thinks her Dad might have been right.

So, maybe The Onion was right in its recent article titled, “Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights and Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life.” Can that be true? Are you asking me? The one who writes on nights and weekends?

I don’t have any answers here. All I know is that I just got the best deal on paintings that has ever happened. I have shopped for art before and it isn’t that much fun. What are the chances of finding the right size piece with some of the right colors and a style that feels good? With Jay, I picked the canvases, the colors and the themes. Then she made amazing, custom paintings in just two hours. Everyone that comes to my house now needs to go to the second floor loft first, because the paintings are so fun to show people.

I told Jay that she should do this for money and she said sure. If you might be interested in creating custom paintings with Jay, send me a note at carol@growingupaustin.com and I’ll get y’all in touch.

One more note before I go – there is a new venue in town,  The North Door, that is home to a unique mix of musicians and performers. They are having a series of kid-friendly happy hours in April with live music from musician+Mom, Elizabeth McQueen. Details – April 15, 22 and 29, 6:00-7:30, 501 North IH 35, cover $5. If you are looking for something new to try, check it out!

Getting to Know You

(Jay, The North Door and Elizabeth didn’t pay for a mention, I just felt like talking about them, that is all!)

Daisy the Mood Cat For Sale

Growing Up Austin

(If you are visiting looking for SXSW for Kids info, here it is!)

My cat, Daisy, is for sale. She may have her issues, but she also has a magic power. She is a Mood Cat.

These are Daisy’s unique and endearing characteristics:

– Daisy is thirteen years old, but she still nurses. I got her from Town Lake Animal Shelter when she was a tiny kitten, TOO tiny. Don’t ever get the TINIEST kitten because TINY kittens are SOOOO cute. Get only a sort-of-small kitten next time. Daisy will paw and knead your skin, with each claw fully extended, nearly drawing blood. Long sleeves and pants are recommended at our house. But even then, Daisy will suck on your long sleeves and pants, leaving a wet spot. On some occasions,  for some reason more often with guests, she will knead and suck on an actual breast. This should be the worst, but it isn’t. The worst is when she starts kneading and sucking on you while you are asleep. Even after Daisy has passed on, my vampire nightmares are sure to continue.

– Daisy used to poop and pee on the carpet. Not on the hard wood floors downstairs, only on the carpet upstairs, in her favorite spot just outside of the laundry room, which conveniently  had a LITTER BOX. So, it wasn’t like she couldn’t make it to the litter box, it was more like she was protesting something, but she forgot to tell us what exactly. Then we put a cat door in the door to the garage and we put the litter box there. Now she poops and pees in the litter box. Strange. But, she still throws up all over the house. It’s not so bad, just regular cat throw up, but it is best to wear shoes in our house, with your long sleeves and pants.

– Daisy will scratch on the door to the backyard and plead with her eyes to go outside. Then when you get up and open the door, she will remain in her spot. Sometimes, I tell her, as if she were a conscious being, “If you make me get up, you have to go outside” and I’ll put her outside and close the door. Then she immediately starts scratching on the door to get back in. If I get up again to open the door, well, you can guess what happens next.

I might not be doing a good job selling my cat.

But, I’m getting to the good part. She has a magic power. She is a Mood Cat.

When I am feeling well and balanced, I live with Daisy just fine. I am kind and patient. I give her loving cuddles, even when she pretends to want to go outside. I am also quite efficient and effective with the carpet cleaner.

When I am feeling unwell and unbalanced, I get mad at Daisy and I yell at her, as if she is a conscious being. I tell her to get her but outside.  I tell her to stop f#$@#$-ing with my carpet.

Is there someone in your family who is hard to read? Then Daisy, The Mood Cat might be just the cat for you, to give you an early clue about how your family member really feels.

Make me an offer. I can be very reasonable.

(Well, Daisy might not agree with that.)

Be Careful What You Wish For

It was Thursday at lunch and I made a wish. I didn’t wish for a book deal or that my girls would stop fighting or to get the day back at Hyatt Lost Pines that Blue Eyes and I lost when Sparkles got sick, which all would have been good wishes, but my needs were simple.

I wished for Friday off work.

So I could catch up at home. So I could relax just a little. So I could get a break from my job that didn’t ever slow down.

Then, when I got back to the office, I got laid off.

I was smiling a little, in the meeting with my boss and HR, and I’m sure they weren’t sure why. It was just kind of funny, that I got what I wished for, only different.

My plans for 2013 will change. For now, my only plans are for next week, when I will…

  • Spend one day doing nothing at all with any practical value.
  • See a few movies on the list I always make after the Golden Globes, but don’t usually have time to see.
  • Write for a whole day.
  • Spend time with a friend and her new baby.
  • Find a hiking buddy and take a long hike, the kind I can’t do with the kids.
  • Write for another whole day.
  • Take a nap.
  • Sit around the house.
  • Take another nap.

After next week, I’ll think more about it and get more serious. Hmmm, should I dare to make another wish?