Blog Archive


Into Dust

April 03, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Nearly thirty years later, it remains a day in retail I’ll never forget. A customer walked into the jewelry store I managed, asking about opals. I showed him a few but he wasn’t interested in buying. He seemed to know more about opals than I did, or so it seemed until disaster struck.   The secret to being a great salesperson doesn’t necessarily reside with the products you happen to be selling. Here’s a secret you might not know; the key to being a great salesperson is convincing the client that you’re the person they want to buy from. Convince them of this and you can sell them anything. To this end, I was tremendously successful. My ability to chatter like a magpie served me well.   One day a g ...

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A Piercing Dilemma

April 05, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This post describes another questionable adventure in retail. It happened several years after I’d become manager of the jewelry store mentioned in the previous post.   **********************             Jerry was one of my best customers. He and his lovely wife Mary Anne had purchased a small fortune in bling from me over the years. I was polite with all of my customers but over the years I developed a real fondness for Jerry and Mary Anne. It helped that Mary Anne was a beautiful woman, shapely with cascading Pre-Raphaelite red hair.             One day while browsing, Jerry slid up to me while Mary Anne was on the ...

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Peculiar Picture #59

April 07, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
This illustration was not a commission. Painted on spec in my spare time, my hope was that art directors might find it useful. I painted hundreds of pictures in this manner. Frankly, I can’t even remember painting this one.    It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I found this image in a drawer, forgotten along with half a dozen Y2K illustrations that will never again see the light of day since the world didn’t end in the year 2000, seventeen years ago. I could easily imagine art directors using an illustration of a fortune teller for a variety of purposes: divining the future of the stock market, predicting the rise or decline of the dollar, sports results—anything with an uncertain outcome. With so many ...

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Peculiarities #4

April 10, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I had no idea where this post was going to lead when I started writing. My intention was a lighthearted description of another peculiar item at Casa Chatterbox, but a Google search sent me in a more serious direction, a tragic one.             It began in 1976 when Mrs. Chatterbox and I were backpacking through Europe with a dog-eared copy of Frommer’s Europe on Ten Dollars a Day. While exploring Paris near the Eiffel Tower, we passed many shops selling gorgeous Art Nouveau figurines and collectables—all costing hundreds of dollars. I love Art Nouveau and considered throwing our $10 daily budget out the window, but I couldn’t convince myself to spend hundreds of doll ...

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Freshly Brewed Hype!

April 12, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I always look forward to posts by Rick Watson, a talented author/columnist, blogger, and singer/guitar player. Rick’s blog, Life 101, is extremely well written and always uplifting, and we can always use more of that. I mention Rick because he recently posted a piece about his love of coffee. His initial experience with this brown elixir, which he refers to as “…love at first sip,” was much different than mine. Check it out (here). In contrast, I’m posting my very first blog from 2011 where I describe a very different reaction.    *********************************             Some things in life just don’t live up to their hype. Every time I ...

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Tulip Time

April 14, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Oregon’s weather is much like that of the Netherlands, which means tulips grow exceedingly well here. And once again, tulip time has arrived. It’s much anticipated because tulips bloom sooner than other flowers around here. Other than a few daffodils, nothing much is happening, except in Woodburn, Oregon, a sleepy agricultural community about thirty miles south of Portland where the fields have once again erupted in color.   I love photographing children almost as much as I like snapping pictures of flowers, and both were present in abundance. There were dozens of children out enjoying this colorful spectacle.                           ...

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A Very Good Dog

April 17, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I once saw a cartoon speculating on what dogs think. In the cartoon, owners were talking to the pooch but all it was hearing was, “Blah…blah…blah…Ginger,” poking humor at the millions of dogs forced to live with the ubiquitous name.   Years ago while I was toiling in retail, Mrs. Chatterbox and CJ went to the pound the day after Thanksgiving, the busiest shopping day of the year. I recently came across a picture of our very own Ginger. Our son CJ had initially wanted to name the dog G.I. Joe, which didn’t seem appropriate for a female dog. We asked him to reconsider, and he chose Ginger.   Many families have a menagerie of pets over the years, and Casa Chatterbox is no exception. Ginger w ...

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Line By Line

April 19, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
In order to be a successful illustrator, I found it necessary to wear a lot of hats. Clients often wanted portraits of CEOs for corporate reports, authors of newspaper columns and local politicians for editorial pages. Budgets were often small so color portraiture was out. I needed to create an inexpensive black and white product for images often destined for newsprint, which isn’t the best paper for reproduction; images often look washed out or mushy.   So, to satisfy my clients I set aside my paints and changed hats. I’ve long been interested in pen & ink line drawings. You might recall some of my previously posted caricatures. To increase my business, I developed a crosshatch style that reproduced cheaply without l ...

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April 21, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
On Monday I published a post about Ginger, the pet who tugged hardest on our heart strings. If you missed it, check it out (here). There was more to the story. I wasn’t present when the events of this tale unfolded, but Mrs. Chatterbox filled me in on the details.   It was 1997. Our beloved pet Ginger, who’d lived with us for nearly ten years, had been put to sleep when her organs shut down two years earlier. Mrs. C. was shopping at Macy’s. After entering the lingerie department and browsing through a few racks, she spotted an uncomfortable looking man, fidgeting while holding what was presumably his wife’s purse. Mrs. C. isn’t in the habit of looking at strange men (unless they’re first-string fir ...

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Kids Say the Darndest Things!

April 24, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
People of a certain age will recall Art Linkletter and his television shows in the 50s and 60s pointing out that Kids Say the Darndest Things. I was thinking about Art and his wonderful interaction with children a few days ago at the gym where I work out.   The gym is actually an old school high school, and the men’s locker room is situated off the gym area housing the auditorium/basketball court. When I finish in the weight room and head to the showers I must cross the basketball court, which is usually filled with dozens of toddlers having a playtime. Pedal cars and blocks are scattered about, and instructors play with the kids, showing them how to throw basketballs and kick soccer balls while parents (mostly mothers) sit on ...

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Dad Goes Solo

April 26, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
I was inspired to post this reworked piece from 2012 after discovering this photograph among my late mother’s things. It was taken after Dad soloed, earning his private pilot’s license. I’m the little grinning dork in the copilot seat, although I waited on the ground during the solo.   *****************************   Whenever Dad saw a picture of Amelia Earhart, he’d get a wistful faraway look on his face and mumble under his breath, “You know, she would have been an attractive woman with just a bit of makeup.”   I remember observing Dad as he watched a news report about her on TV: A picture of a smiling woman with short-cropped hair had popped up on the screen, and Dad was wearing th ...

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Dad Goes Solo: Conclusion

April 28, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Miss Part One? Check it out (here).   ******************   Valuable time ticked by as Dad fiddled with the plane’s flight instruments. When he’d finished tapping and adjusting every device in the cockpit, he contacted the tower on the squawky radio and we were told to proceed to the runway. With my heart beating like a hummingbird’s, I looked over at Dad. He appeared fully in control as man and machine became one. I still think of him this way, Helios the sun god. And I was to accompany him in his flaming chariot on a journey across the sky. The moment burned into my memory.             Dad cracked a window and shouted, “All clear!”  & ...

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