Friday, September 30, 2011

**PeAcY kEeN, tAnGeRiNe??** My latest painting for Ooooh La La Art Gallery @

One thing I have noticed as an artist is that sometimes paintings are started for one reason or another, and then end up with a different purpose entirely. Nothing could be more true than that of my latest painting, "Peachy Keen, Tangerine?". In my true, whimsical style, this painting was inspired by a Kitchen Aid mixer--in orange. True story.

Handcrafted frame by artist, Whitney Madison; this painting is fully texturized, includes fitted ribbon around the perimeter, and embellished with Swarovski crystals, and sealed for perfection. The sage and tangerine colors are soothing, yet have a little zing to them. Acrylic medium.

You can find this, and other paintings by me on my online art gallery:

Swarovski crystal embellishments

Texturized tangerine in soft metalics

Sunday, September 25, 2011

FAILURE TO LAUNCH: How The Mystique of Palmer, Alaska Was The Final Demise of My Long Distance Relationship

After three, long, tiresome years, my relationship with the Cute Alaskan Man is done. Not just done...but done, da done done. I may sound lighthearted when I'm saying all of this, and maybe I am a bit lighthearted right now--the heart probably weighs less when it's broken into pieces. You're welcome for that little science lesson. What can I say, I know a few things  about mass and surface area.

January 3rd, 2012 would've made my relationship hit the three year mark with the Cute Alaskan Man. The 3 year, still 3,000 miles apart mark--oh yeah...with absolutely ZERO plans for any sort of future together. I can't even imagine the size of my carbon footprint, and my contributions to global warming just by the sheer nature of dating a well-rooted Alaskan for nearly three years. It's huge. It's probably going to be what finally does the planet in, causes Al Gore to have a heart attack, makes the polar bears at the Denver Zoo punch me in the face through the plexiglas for melting away their relative's icebergs at the north pole, and causes the next polar ice age. I guess hindsight is 20/20, but on behalf of me and my selfishness for "have love, will travel", I'M SO SORRY, PLANET EARTH AND ALL OF ITS INHABITANTS.

"So what is this "Failure to Launch" thing, Whitney?"...well, I'll tell you. Failure to launch is what happens when people will do whatever it takes to avoid having to take THE NEXT STEP in life--whether it be because they don't want to grow up, or because they want free handouts (the "have your cake, and eat it, too" syndrome).There are a couple of areas where this "failure to launch" concept completely submarined my relationship. However, it's not JUST this new development--this has been an ongoing trend for years that has been allowed to go on for as long as it has because I was stupidly in love with someone who only loved me "conveniently".

Have you ever had those times where your friends are like, "Dude, what are you doing?" I've had a lot of those, from a lot of people lately--some of which are from amazing people who offer sound advice that I trust. A lot of people have been shaking their heads at me for years and telling me that I am just as much to blame for the stagnant status of my relationship as my (now) ex-boyfriend because I allow it to keep going on without it going anywhere (and it costing a crap-ton of money in travel to boot). I finally listened--although it took having Tristan pull the rug completely out from underneath me to hear it  this time with 100% clarity.

As many of you know, Tristan has been building a house up in Alaska. He has owned property up there for years, and had kicked around the idea of building on it. When I had my surgery back in 2009, I was basically feeling like death. We spent many nights in the hospital with a computer drafting program designing a home that would be for us and fit my family. Negotiations with my ex-husband began for a possible move to Alaska, and what that might look like with respect our 50/50 custody split. In the end, it wasn't going to work out. My time would be too short with the kids, and I didn't think it would benefit them. All of this occurred PRIOR to Tristan starting to build the house in Alaska. When he found out I would be unable to move up there, he unilaterally decided to build the house anyway (**insert initial break-up of Whitney and Tristan here**).

There have been many other HUGE, GIGANTIC, BLAZING, MARQUIS SIGNS that things weren't going forward. Somehow they were always talked around, and somehow I always was re-convinced that this wasn't "doomsday" as it had appeared, but simply just one more giant hurdle that Tristan had decided to place in the way of moving forward. WHY? Because he wasn't ready to move forward--and certainly not with me.

There were many times that I was asked to modify and mold myself into perfection so that I could be "wife material" in my relationship with Tristan. I don't think there's anything wrong with "refining" yourself, and striving to be your best, but when someone picks you apart and tells you in a round-about-way that you're not good enough for them--it's time to go. And don't worry--I don't have any residual self esteem issues from this. I happen to think that whomever I end up with will appreciate me for all of me. I have a lot to offer, and I never truly believed the gripes and groans he had about me. Anyway, when all of these requests for refinement were being made by him, it should've been my first sign to bail. I think if I hadn't know Tristan for 14 years, and if he hadn't been my best friend in college, I would've laughed in his face and told him to take off a long time ago. Love does strange things to people. It gives you an unhealthy tolerance for giant loads of crap.

I'm not going to go into all the details of why we crashed and burned. The final straw was during his last stay here in Colorado. Not only is he nearing the end of building the house in Alaska, but he is gearing up to move in there, and he is taking all of his current roommates with him. Dear Whitney--God just called and said to smack you upside the head and let you know that this man is never going to grow up. Oh sure, Italics Person...way to show up now and tell me.

It's not just that, but there was a rift between me and Tristan's friends last year. I voiced my opinion about a relationship I felt was unhealthy for one of our mutual friends, and it spiraled into a small town, rumor mongering pit of crap--one in which every one of his friends stopped talking to me. This wouldn't be a problem, other than the fact that the couple I speak of had a whirlwind relationship, are now married, and I just found out they are going to live in the basement of Tristan's brand-spankin' new house that I helped him design...for us...which is now a major joke (and yes, in the rooms originally designed for my children are now going to be housing all of them--including another one of his guy pals). Why? Because they all suffer from FAILURE TO LAUNCH. It may just be me, but the idea of being married kind of brings with it the whole, "Getting out on your own" idea--not the "I want to live in my friend's basement for two years so I can have him foot the bill for a nice home while I save up money to build my dream home" idea. Call me crazy. Oh...and I was supposed to go up to Alaska on vacation here in a few weeks, but then realized the basement would be full of his squatter pals, which kind of put a damper on all of it. Sorry--I'm a little old to have roomies involved in my relationship at this point in my life. The whole lot of people I have mentioned here are in their late 20s-early 30s...time to get out of Phi Beta Kenny frat/sorority and move your fuzzy butts forward, peeps! Never mind...I'll just move mine.

So yes, the submarine has been submarined. These are just two big issues we've had. There are many others (remember the purchase of the boat?...that was just one more thing). Many others that point me in another direction. I just wish it hadn't been on the same day my Philadelphia Eagles lost to the NY Giants, and Michael Vick broke his hand. I'd say this day can go down in history as a MEGA BUMMER.

So where do I go from here? NO...I'm not talking about men, goodness knows I haven't had a real date with a man I didn't know since thank you. I'm talking about my vacation coming up the end of October. Wherever it is, it will be amazing--and I have some vacation home feelers out for Kauai. Onward and upward, people. Oh, and for all of you who have followed this relationship from the beginning, and who have been the voice of reason for me,THANK YOU. And PS...I didn't recognize myself anymore, either. ;)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What In-The-Living-Crap Is The Purpose of a Pergola?

The Pergola. What is the point of this ridiculous object? Is this what lumberjacks build when they get bored with leftover wood? Is it the trend of people who once adored Lincoln Logs? What is this thing?

I don't think the idea of a pergola would bother me so much if it actually served SOME purpose. Does it keep rain out? Nope. Does it keep seagulls from from crapping on your head? Nope. Does it shelter you from excessive sunlight? Again, Nope. Wait...then there is the Divine question--was God just looking for a huge wood cheese grater that He commissioned you to build for Him in your backyard?

Why do all the high-end homes have these? They serve NO purpose whatsoever--other than to give you a striped tan. Do you see the fan hanging from the middle of this picture? What the hell sort of air was it circulating? There is no confined space to even feel a breeze! The only breeze you're creating is for your neighbors while simultaneously contributing to global warming!...and your neighbors aren't even contributing to your electric bill. You're fanning them for free!

I'm sorry. I live in Colorado. There's a lot of rich mountain snot here. Doesn't matter that we are a bunch of white people running around at high altitude in the skin cancer capitol of the world. Now we'll be the skin cancer champs by making porch covers that don't...well..cover jack squat (see how good I am for watching my mouth?...although I did say hell a few times--but it's a noun...just a place).

The Pergola. More useless crap that we humans can eventually toss into a landfill. I don't know why this ridiculous structure frustrates me so much. Maybe it's because it sounds like a gondola for cats (Purr-gola)--which is just as ridiculous, but I should invent it so rich, snobby people can build it on their back porch to give their cats a scenic tour.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Thrill Of...The Grill? More Like Girl v. Grill: My Adventures In Purchasing My First BBQing Thingy

A few weeks ago I woke up, put on my stilettos, and got in my car to go on a mission--I, Whitney, girlie girl, high maintenance, Barbie girl, was buy my first outdoor grill. Why? Because I got a little bug in my bonnet and decided that I wanted to try my hand in the Man's Land of what my friend, Katie, calls, "THE Q".

The grill. Everything about this object screams MAN TOY to me. However, I happen to think those MAN TOYS make pretty friggin' delicious food, so I thought, "Meh...why the heck not get one and see if blonde girls can make pretty friggin' delicious food with these thingymabobbers."

How hard could it be? I'd walk in the store, see the grill that best matched my shoes, purchase it, and badda-bing-badda-boom---FRIGGIN' DELICIOUS FOOD...right? Um...wrong. And I was kidding about matching my grill to my shoes--I only have one pair of stainless steel gray stilettos, and they are bedazzled with Swarovski crystals. There's no way I'd ever wear them to grill, regarless of color coordination with "my Q". I'm not risking the dripping of grill sludge on those babies.

It's verging on fall. I figured it was a great time of year to buy a grill because they would be trying to get rid of grills at the store so they could make room for the snow blowers. Pretty good logic for a chick, right? I had seen an ad in the paper and saw that Sears had been advertising grills at up to 50% off. SA-weet! Well then that makes it easy! Enter store. Buy grill. Peace out. Grill burgers. Right? Um...wrong-O again, blondie. It went a little like this...

I entered Sears. An overly zealous salesman jumped on me. Not literally--I mean, people weren't like, "Hey! Get a room!", but he jumped on me as a customer. He could sense that I was on a mission. He asked if he could help me, and I told him that I was interested in looking at grills. He told me, "Well, I can take you over there and show them to you, but I have to warn you, I'm brand new at this job, so I will tell you what I can." Translation?...Holmes knew jack diddly about grills. He was like, "Um, this is a nice one. And this one is a nice color." Color? Really? You think I give a crap about color? A flipping monkey could tell me, "This is a red grill, this is a brown grill." I NEEDED SOMEONE TO TELL ME ABOUT GRILLS! I felt like the blind was leading the blonde. He must have actually thought I knew what I was looking at. I felt bad--I tried to let him know that I appreciated his effort, but then asked him if he could send someone over who knew something about grills...someone who could HELP ME.

After I waited around for about 15 minutes flipping lids on grills that all looked the same to me, a new salesman finally came to help. Wait...did I say, "HELP?" cuz that's an overstatement. "Fill up space and suck out oxygen from the atmosphere" would be more appropriate. They sent me Warren. Remember Warren? The guy in the earmuffs in, "There's Something About Mary?" it was him. Ok, not really THE WARREN...I don't think he works at Sears. This guy knew nothing about grilling. And the only grill in my price range, size, and with all the bells and whistles on it was cappuccino brown. I love fashion, but I steer clear of "trends" with my fashion, just as I do with my grills. My parents had a colored grill back in the 80s. This whole new "Espresso finish" and "Cappuccino finish" are going to be gone in two years--then I'm going to be left with a grill that looks like it's...well...from 1988. Anyway, the sales guy tried to sell me the grill I didn't want, then he tried to tell me that it would be two weeks before they could "put it together". What? "Put it together?" What is this--the friggin' Space Shuttle? Ugh. I ended up just leaving the store. I didn't learn squat about grills--other than all the new ones have this "infrared" feature that's supposed to keep the meat more juicy and tender. Well add that to the list then, peeps.

Off to Lowe's. It took me about 10 minutes to sift through all of the crap they had on house arrest in their parking lot (all the grills they had outside that had been tied with wire rope and padlocked together), and decided that they didn't have what I was looking for. On to Home Depot...

At this point let me just insert a rant, "I HATE GRILL SHOPPING!!!!" Thank you.

I went into Home Depot and nobody came to help me. Didn't really matter at this point because grill shopping became much like my car shopping--remember when I said I recently went shopping for my new car and all I wanted was BRAKES and HEATED SEATS (with a car looking thing surrounding it, of course)? Well now all I wanted in a grill was STAINLESS STEEL and INFRARED...and small.

When I was in the store I didn't see anything I would purchase. They had el cheapo of cheap in the size grill I was looking for, and it went all the way up to the "Tim the Tool Man Taylor" $2500 grill that was the size of my king size bed and I think it came with it's own griller who was stored in the bottom cabinets--I think his name was Rico. Anywho,...
I was less than impressed and it was nearly time to pick the kids up at school. I decided that maybe I didn't need a grill after all. Off to my car I went.

As I put my car keys in the ignition I looked over and saw a bunch of grills outside of Home Depot. I even saw a stainless steel grill that was the right size, so I decided to check it out. Again, nobody came to help me. I still knew nothing about grills. At this point I was in, "it's ok to judge a book by its cover" mode. Just give me the flipping man toy, I'll give you my credit card, and you load it in my car. Mkay? Mkay.

EUREKA!!!! I FOUND IT! Right size, right price, stainless steel, ASSEMBLED (no Space Shuttle assembly action needed), and INFRARED COOKING! Now where the heck is the salesperson to help me with this? I went into the customer service desk and asked if someone could assist me out in the grill department. Kid you not...they sent me a 900 year old woman in an orange vest who looked like she would blow away with the next wind gust. At this point in time I had just decided that I wasn't going to learn anything about grills or grilling from salespeople. I just needed someone to help me get to the checkout stand. I had let the lady know that I would like to purchase the grill, and I figured she'd hand me a piece of paper with a bar code on it to take up to the cash register. Silly, silly, silly me...she just unlocked the stupid grill from outdoor house arrest, handed it to me, and told me to take it to the cash register. "Um...what? You want me to do WHAT?" guessed it...she actually made me drag my new grill...WITH MY STILETTOS ON...through Home Depot and up to the cash register.

Do you remember the "My Buddy" doll? The doll that the advertisement song used to say, "My buddy and me we like to climb up a tree, my buddy and me we're the BEST FRIENDS we could be..." Yeah--well that was me with my flipping grill and my high heels trucking through Home Depot. Not only that, but I had to lug it all the way across the store because I was at the end of the store that only took RETURNS and did not deal with SALES.  Cherry on top of my stupid day. I'm sure I looked hot dragging my new stainless steel BFF behind me.

Oh gets better. So after I got done dragging my friend through Home Depot to the cash register, and then back through the store and out the doors, I still had to pick up my propane tank, AND find a burly, less-than-90-something year old to help me load it into my car. A young guy met me outside the door (where was he to drag my freakin' grill through the store for me?...I do not know). He loaded my grill into the back of my car, and then told me that there wasn't room in the back for my propane tank--so he took it up to the passenger seat in my car and placed it on the seat. All I could think was, "Well this should be a really flipping fun ride home...what fun is driving if you don't do it with a bomb sitting next to you?"

I white knuckled it home. Every time I had to make a left hand turn I almost hyperventilated. I could just picture someone trying to "make it through the yellow light" and slamming into that sucker on the passenger side of the car and simultaneously exploding. My life flashed before my eyes. Then I started to think more positively--maybe I would live if I got slammed into! face and body might look like a grilled cheese sandwich, but I'D BE A SURVIVOR!!! All the things that go through your mind when the Home Depot guy makes you drive home with a propane bomb sitting next to you in the passenger seat. I think I prayed the whole way home. Something along the lines of, "Dear God, please don't turn me into Pizza The Hut from Spaceballs today..."

I made it home. It took me and my twin 9 year olds to haul the grill out of my car and up to my backyard (I live on a mountainside). The whole day had sucked up to that point. I was, however, all sorts of excited because I had purchased steak and shrimp to make kabobs on the grill that night.

I hooked up the propane, and quickly found out that I was too afraid to turn my grill on. I felt like it would blow up. My 19 year old daughter finally told me I was a wimp and figured out how to hook everything up properly and ignite the flame. We grilled. I was afraid of my grill, but we grilled nonetheless. I felt empowered...right up until the time I tasted the fruits of my labor (aka the shrimp kabobs) and found out the shrimp were rotten and tasted like low tide. I got up from the table, spit it into the bushes, and to this day I can still taste those shrimp--needless to say I'm OFF shrimp for a while.

I actually took all the shrimp back to the store the next day and placed them on the "return" counter. The clerk almost fell over at the fact that I brought rotten food back. She said, "You didn't have to bring them in!!! could've just told me!!!" to which I replied, "Well I didn't want you to think that I actually ate them and was trying to get my money back." Apparently that was funny to her. To me?...not so much...but then again my mouth still tasted like low tide.

The next night I grilled burgers. Still not a pro, but getting there. Girl v. Grill. It's been a UFC battle up to this point, but I'm not going to be scared off by a few little shrimps--or Warren at Sears--or by the fact that it was drag-your-own-grill day through Home Depot in stilettos, followed by crap-your-pants-all-the-way-home-while-sitting-next-to-a-propane-bomb-in-your-passenger-seat day. Fun times, times.

Is it legal for women to own grills? Hmmm. Maybe should've checked into that.