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“It’s 1952, Babe…”

Happy Winter Solstice!

Maureen Tanya MikeAround this time every year—time for summing up the past year and making resolutions for the next—I am reminded of John Lee Hooker, who has become a reference around our house and the occasion for a lot of laughs between Mike and me for saying in one of his songs, “It’s 1952, babe, I’m gon’ turn over a brand new leaf.”  Does anybody ever turn over a brand new leaf? I wonder. It’s our experience that we have to take what we’ve got and use it creatively to muddle through. And, given the cards that the bankers and politicians have dealt us in recent years, just to muddle through feels like a victory.

  • For us, on the muddle-through scale, the past year has been extraordinary. I’ve had a lot of work making and editing my own prints and some for other artists, along with conducting one-on-one printmaking workshops for artists in my studio. Along the way I’ve made some wonderful new friends—most of them from Australia, and renewed friendships with those who have returned.

  • Mike had a health scare but came out of it feeling frisky and thankful to be alive. And he continues to edit his online magazine, ¡Alegria! The Joy of Spanish Living.

Eli Rafa GabrielOur children are well and prospering and our grandchildren—including two wonderful great grandkids—ranging in age from 29 to two months, are sources of tremendous pride and satisfaction, and we’ll be seeing most of them over the holidays. The one missing will be Elisa, our five-foot-one Spanish/Viking granddaughter, and her family who have moved to Nottingham in the U.K., though we hope to see them in the coming year.

Cacolinos

  • We’ve scaled down our animals both in size and number. For years we had Great Danes, mastiffs and large lurchers. Then some 20 years ago a friend gave us a delightful little mongrel bitch pup—Cacolina–who became the foundation dam for our own charming strain of short-legged, wire-haired Cacolinos. At one point we had five of them, along with a half a dozen cats. Now we’re down to a single Shih-Tzu-cross bitch, Cuca, who makes us laugh a lot.

  • Maureen Cat MicaAnd two cats: Mica, the grey grandmother who still tries to hunt with no teeth, and Rosie, the new kitten who turned up virtually dessicated in our pantry, responded to skim milk from a syringe and soon became fat and sassy.

  • That is not to say everything was fine in the past year, nor does the world situation inspire optimism for the future. On the negative side of the ledger we’ve got enough corrupt Spanish politicians to derail a train, record unemployment, and honest people’s homes being repossessed by banks we’ve just bailed out. Not to mention weekly drone assassinations, school shootings and black ops on the international scene. At times like this I feel lucky to be an artist who can take refuge in my work.

Regarding next year, we hope you have a happy and prosperous one. As for us, It’s 2014, babe, we’re gon’ turn over a brand new leaf!

Big Spanish-style hugs from Maureen and Mike

(John Lee Hooker’s Brand New Leafhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aerY_iNF-BY)

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