Thursday, November 29, 2007


Random, I know . . . but this is my favorite 'You Tube' video. It's from a film school and that makes it even better.

doing nothing

The other day, the girls were laughing hysterically in their room for quite some time and I finally had to know what they were doing that was so funny. I stepped in to the bedroom and found out they were doing absolutely nothing! Just being silly. I love long, lounging, holiday weekends. This is what it's all about.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

field trip

Shannon and I went on a little field trip today. We were out painting windows, and a girl stopped to chat and said there was an artist that had done a shopping center near where she lived that was so extraordinarily adorable. She went on and on and on about the characters, and the colors and the cuteness of this whole shopping center.
We've seen many styles of window art, but this description was intriguing, so we had to see it. We backtracked on our route about 15 minutes and found this: I'm not sure what it is, but the poor marshmallow topped thing has her feet facing forward, and her head (?) facing backwards.
We were howling when we saw it. A restaurant employee was out in front so we asked her about the windows . She replies "Aren't they great? This man was amazing! You should see inside the mall too!"
Here is what we saw inside the mall:
We were in such shock that so many people were loving this that we started asking around - who painted it? what does he charge for this size? has he done your windows before? Then someone handed us his phone number thinking we also wanted him to do some painting. (Note: Shannon and I were both covered with red, green, and white holiday paint. No one seemed to notice that maybe we, too, were painters)
Shannon called the artist and got his wife on the phone - we wanted to get a price quote.
"Gee wilikers - he's not here. He is BIIIZZZYYY right now. My Golly - why, he's got a whole lot of painting to do!" Just hearing Shannon repeat that conversation in her pitch perfect mocking tone . . . I couldn't stop laughing.
We unfortunately couldn't get a price out of her, and the girl at the restaurant didn't know what they paid for it, either.
This little excursion extended our day by 45 minutes, but the laugh factor was worth the extra time.

Here is what we painted today:

Closing note: Just in case you can't tell the difference between our work and the showcased artist of the day, you are not allowed to comment.

Closing note #2: Shannon challenged me to post each and every photo she took today. As I review what was on my camera, I respectfully decline.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

meet the manager

The corporate office e-mailed ahead of time to let them know we'd be painting their store. We called the day before and said we'd be there in the morning. Shannon stepped inside to let the store manager (assistant manager in this case) know we were there to paint the windows. Painting begins. Out comes the manager. We introduce ourselves, told him we let Mr. Assistant know we were here. This is his response. "He's #2. I'm #1!" Suddenly we are in the back-pedal, let's appease the management mode. What can we suggest to him that would make him happy without having to erase what we have already begun? Shannon is amazing. She can make people think that what we are doing is exactly what they wanted in the first place. That is exactly what happened. He went back in to the store a happy man. Way to go Shannon! Then he called us later in the day to say we didn't paint his deli windows. Now we're pretty good at assessing the window coverage. From the time we ease into the parking lot to the time we park in front of the store (about 14 seconds), we have assessed the size of the window, planned the design, and allotted the amount of time until we need to be back in the car. There were no deli windows in this situation. As it turns out, there is a deli WAY off to the far side of the store. The windows are not readily visible from the front, but apparently they were to be painted in all their grandeur. Mr. #1 made sure to let us know he wouldn't be happy until they were. We had even done some extra work on their day care room windows inside the store. (Did you know they have daycare at grocery stores? Who knew? Every store should offer this wonderful service - drug stores, hardware stores, department stores. How many times have I had to shop with a multitude of children at the grocery store? I would have driven clear out to Scottsdale to drop my kids off for 30 minutes while I picked up my groceries). Anyway, I digress. What was I talking about? Oh yeah . . . Crybaby #1. I guess we're going clear across town to paint deli windows tomorrow. Gotta keep #1 happy.
Now Shannon and I are fighting over who is #1 and who is #2 in our business.

Another store, another manager. He says "Can you paint a Nativity?" (What? Everybody says No Santa, No Christmas Tree, No Merry Christmas, Nothing that signifies a Christian holiday, Keep it Neutral, just some snow and a 'Seasons Greetings') . We actually thought he was kidding at first. We have no Baby Jesus references in our painting collection. I made Shannon go inside to find a Christmas card with a nativity on it. She comes out with a card that has a scene with the following items - stable, bright radiating star, Mary, Joseph holding a staff, Baby Jesus, straw, wooden manger and the entire illustration was the size of a postage stamp. The window was 8 feet by 12 feet. So from that postage stamp and out of our cottage cheese cartons full of children's craft paint, comes a larger than life holy Christian nativity scene. Go figure.

Our favorite manager ever - "Bud". He had money to burn and all of his salesmen were out of the office so he had us paint caricatures all over each of their office windows. We painted the 3 pigs, we painted turkeys and a little goldilocks girl holding a hatchet, and we painted Ratfink himself.

New day today . . . We went back to paint said deli window. Shannon stopped in to tell Mr. #1 sorry we overlooked it, we're here to make sure everything was taken care of.
#1: "I am too busy to deal with this,
just get it done!"
Shannon: "We're on it right now-"
#1 interrupts and gives Shannon the 'talk to the hand' gesture and repeats "Just get it done!"

I've got to say, Shannon is always very diplomatic and cordial in every circumstance . . . . publicly anyway, but once we get back into the car, she is wicked funny. Sadly, I can't repeat it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

public outcry

I walked out my front door earlier this week to do something for which I fully expected public backlash. I started window painting.

November 12th, Shannon and I painted 5 holiday store windows. A little early for Christmas? I think not. We usually start a couple of days before Thanksgiving, but this year we contracted with a big store chain to be painted before Thanksgiving so we had to start earlier.

Monday was hot as heck outside, I had just put away my box of Halloween decorations, it's still 10 days before Thanksgiving and we we're painting snow scenes and holly berries all over town. Before Thanksgiving even arrives, there will be over 35 stores greeting their customers with a festive "Happy Holidays". (And we're not the only ones doing it, either. Holiday window painting is a competitive dog-eat-dog industry. I'll bet you didn't know that!)

So Monday morning, like I said, I thought there would be a holiday outcry. We actually did encounter some grumpy, grinch-like people doing their grocery shopping. One old man actually had the nerve to say "Christmas already? You should be painting turkeys!" (Well, it doesn't sound mean when I type it, but you should have heard the menacing tone of his voice).

One really cantankerous man was opposed to our work. As it turns out, he is an atheist and because he is an atheist, he doesn't believe in any aspect of this foolish holiday so therefore our work is needless and his being inconvenienced to use the west grocery store door instead of the east grocery store door was totally asking too much of him. So . . . I grabbed my cup of paint, climbed down from the ladder, moved the ladder, moved our cart of paint, pried open the automatic doors that had been disabled for us while we painted, and I let the crabby man into the store to do his shopping. Does being an atheist and being absolutely rude go hand in hand? Maybe so. I didn't know this before today.

"So you're the artistes. I didn't know there were any girl artistes" (no I didn't spell artists incorrectly. That's what he said, "artistes" - 3 syllables). He said this as he was staggering away from the store in a drunken stupor. It was 8:30 am. Yeah, we were painting in a lovely part of town.

One particular comment surprised me. A man growled at our holiday cheer and then as he walked away, we noticed his shirt had the logo of a decorative holiday light installer.

The general public is so creative. "So, you're painting the windows!" I don't even know what to say to that comment. They seem to be smiling and somehow trying to be complimentary, but it's such a stupid thing to say, I don't know how to respond.

"When you're finished here you can come and paint my house!" This is said as if it is a hilarious comment. In actuality, not so hilarious. Even if it were slightly amusing, we hear it each and every day, each and every year.

On the flip side, many people get overly excited. While we were working, the owner of a neighboring store in the shopping center came by to see if he could hire us to do his window. We told him we could if he wanted it done immediately, we'd be finishing at this shopping center soon and would be leaving, so it was now or never. The pressure was on - he and his employees had to make a quick decision, they switched in to high gear, changed the course of their workday to accommodate us, chose a custom design from our portfolio, watched us work for an hour and took pictures. Apparently there wasn't a whole lot of urgent work going on in their office. I am always glad to bring cheer to the little people all over this great city.

Speaking of our "portfolio" we carry around this sorry 3-ring notebook with paint spilled all over it. In it, there are some pitiful photos of our work (we're actually pretty good painters, not so great photographers). From that silly notebook, perfect strangers have handed over wads of cash to paint their windows. Very trusting indeed. Shannon is amazing. She can sell anyone anything. Not only can she sell the jobs, but she is taking over the painting. I'm afraid I'm losing my job security. I've got to put some thought into that problem.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

birthday date

Dave has taken the kids on a birthday date each year. Well, it's called a birthday date, but it's never on their birthday. It is just an outing that happens sometime between one birthday and the next. He used to let the kids choose their destination, but after he ended up at "Castles and Coasters" year after year, child after child, he finally took control of the program and ended the repititious roller-coaster routine.

Melanie and Dave had a 'fancy' date many years ago - formal dress, dinner at the Compass Restaurant, a stroll around downtown and a movie.
Brady and Dave have hiked up Picacho Peak and hiked down to Havasupai. They brought back fantastic photos. It's amazing that Arizona has a place that resembles Hawaii - waterfalls, lagoons, lush greenery.

Rachel and Dave went to see (and LOVED) the stage production of "The Lion King".

The last couple of years, the program went on hiatus. No one could decide where to go, schedules didn't work out . . . always something. Well, they finally decided to get going again. Melanie and Roxanne chose a double date with Dad and off they went to Disneyland!
They went crazy! All day long, I was getting text messages and phone pictures of their shenanigans. They arrived the first minute Disneyland opened in the morning and left at night at the last possible moment. Roxanne met up with her friend Alyx who was there with her family. A fun "bonding" day for all. Roxanne didn't have any time off from school so she had to fly back home and Dave and Melanie went another 2 days. It was exhausting just hearing about their trip. Fortunately, they had a Sunday in the middle of their amusement marathon to rest up for more action.

four squares

Star in Your Own JibJab! It's Free!
Hey Joe and Madeline, We've been practicing for years. Now here's our debut performance!