The Suitcase Lady


March 12, 2019, 8:36 pm

I have a degree in art and have been an art teacher and graphic designer all my life. However, I am the first to admit that the technical and scientific aspects of color are diabolically difficult for me to understand.

It wasn’t until my college years that I learned that the primary colors aren’t always red, blue and yellow, something that every teacher from kindergarten on drilled into me. I was shocked that green could be a primary color. Was this a hoax initiated by the Irish?

The answer, of course, is “no”. I couldn’t blame the inhabitants of the Emerald Isle. The visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum just does its thing, and it is called science.

But when I began reviewing the primary colors for this blog, I got an even bigger shock. Red and blue aren’t primary colors at all. The standard red, blue and yellow pigment color wheel is simply a holdover from Newton’s experiments. Science has advanced beyond his understanding, but most art classrooms have not.

So here is an explanation of the TWO sets of primary and secondary colors, the primary colors that are made from LIGHT (which are separated by prisms) and are known as additive primaries, and the primary colors which are made by PIGMENT and are known as subtractive primaries.

  • The primary colors of light are RED, BLUE and GREEN.
  • The secondary colors of light are MAGENTA, CYAN and YELLOW.
    • Magenta = blue and red
    • Cyan = blue and green
    • Yellow =  green and red


  • The primary colors of pigment are MAGENTA, CYAN and YELLOW.
  • The secondary colors of pigment are RED, BLUE and GREEN.
    • Red = magenta and yellow
    • Blue = cyan and magenta
    • Green = cyan and yellow

I’ve known since my college days that the printing industry used magenta, cyan and yellow as their primaries. I just thought they had their own set of primary colors. Turns out that those are the pigment primaries for everybody which is fine with me. Ask any of my former students: magenta is my favorite color. Plus, every time a teacher told me to mix the “primaries” to get the secondary colors, the results were dismal…muddy khaki green, dull orange and yucky purple.

So happy St. Patrick’s Day to all the Irish. Green truly is a primary color and that is no blarney!

Click here for a brilliant explanation of the pigment primary colors and see red mixed before your eyes.



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March 5, 2019, 9:31 pm

The entire city of Kiruna, the most northern berg in Sweden and 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is about to be moved en masse. The cause of this gargantuan move of 18,000  people is not global climate change but iron ore.

Situated on top of the world’s largest iron ore mine, Kiruna is sinking from seventy years of mining activities beneath the town. No other city of this size has ever been relocated, and surprising lessons are being learned.

According to the architectural team in charge of the project, “The challenge of moving the city is not only about moving an entire city, but about moving the minds of citizens and creating a new home and identity.”

The architects quickly discovered that moving buildings and creating new ones was much easier than understanding what makes history and identity, a sense of place.

Over twenty significant buildings are being moved from the old town to the new location two miles east. These structures will be dismantled and reconstructed. The rest of the town will be entirely new buildings with an elegantly designed city hall as a focal point.

Kiruna’s old church, which has been honored as one of Sweden’s most beautiful buildings, will be moved piece by piece. Here is what Göran Cars, an urban planner for Kiruna, learned from this challenge:

“We are moving the church. When I speak to people they say, ‘Yes, I know that, but what about a grave?  How about the birches?’ I didn’t understand that. They are small trees! But they are 100 years old- as old as the church. I get that question time and time again: ‘What about the birches?’ So now we are moving the birches.”

In spite of the fact that their town is being swallowed up so the mining beneath can continue, the people of Kiruna are lucky. Their government, which owns the mine, is footing the entire mind-boggling one billion dollar cost of the move. Under Swedish law what you mess up you have to fix up.  And equally important, the voices of the people are being heard.

As global warming inevitably will cause the oceans to rise and claim islands and coastal cities around the globe, other citizens around the planet will probably not be as fortunate as Kiruna’s residents.




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February 26, 2019, 9:39 pm

I have a Japanese American friend who is more observant of nature than anyone I have ever known. Her connection to and understanding of the natural world is simply astounding, and I have long wondered how her senses have come to be so finely honed.

Recently, entirely by accident, I have discovered a clue. The ancient Japanese calendar had 72 seasons in which the tiniest seasonal changes in flora, fauna and weather were meticulously recorded. To this day, the influence of this “slow” calendar are apparent in the Japanese culture.

Compare 72 seasons in a year to our recognition of the seasonal turnings. In every school I visit, class decorations are apples and colored leaves in autumn, snowflakes in winter, flowers in spring and nothing in summer as we are all on vacation from school.

Imagine a calendar where approximately every five days a new season is noted and celebrated. And here is the good news. We don’t have to imagine this. An exquisite 72 season calendar has been recreated and can come to us on our computers. I took particular delight in this week’s post because the seasonal features involved cats and chicory, two things I love. But every week is grand and opens our eyes to the small wonders constantly unfolding all around us.

Of course, depending on where we live, our 72 seasons will be different from the Japanese ones. Our latitudes and longitudes don’t coincide. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the poets, artists and nature lovers in our habitats could create a 72 season calendar for our locales?


Here is the current season…

There is no website for a display of the 72 seasons, but there is an app for tablets and smartphones. Here is a link for continued access.



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February 20, 2019, 9:30 pm

On February 22nd, I’ll begin the thirteenth year of writing this weekly blog. This doesn’t seem possible until I check the archive and notice that it is the size of a book, and not a slim volume, either.

As many of you may know, I began the blog as one small positive thing to do every week as an antidote to the horror of seeing America marching, more correctly running, into the second Iraq War. Never in my most vivid imagination could I have foreseen the perilous situation our country is currently in. Every day another piece of our precious Democracy slips away as lies, bullying, corruption, willful ignorance and disrespect become more entrenched.

My original intent for writing has become more important than ever. We all must find ways to keep our sanity in the midst of the insane situation that surrounds us.

A friend recently sent a quote of Jim Dine’s. He is a pop artist who isn’t. Although Dine emerged into the art world simultaneously with the pop artists, he is not concerned with the exteriors of things, but rather with interior matters. His most famous works are huge paintings and sculptures of hearts.

Here is the Dine quote my friend shared:

“I have come to terms with a lot of things, because, when all’s said and done, there’s really very little one can do about a lot of things. You just accept them. The point is you just have to keep on working and you just have to keep on living.”

I concur with all his words except for the “accept” part. So I will offer this corollary advice from a song that debuted in 1944, the height of the Second World War.

  • You’ve got to accentuate the positive
  • Eliminate the negative
  • Latch on to the affirmative
  • Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between

Click here to hear Aretha Franklin’s version.




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February 12, 2019, 8:33 pm

There’s a candy crisis in America. NECCO (New England Confectionary Company) has gone out of business and all their conversational hearts have been silenced.

Sweethearts, the official name for these sugary, chalky little hearts with sayings on them, were created by NECCO in 1866. The company began in 1847 when Oliver R. Chase invented a machine that cut shapes from wafer candy. Oliver’s brother, Daniel Chase, figured out how to print sayings on the candy. Originally used for weddings, the hearts had verses such as, “Married in white, you have chosen right” or “Married in pink, he will take a drink.”

The conversational hearts associated with Valentine’s Day began in 1901. Americans have had a continuous love affair with them ever since. To stay current, some of the sayings were updated in the 1990s with LOL, EMAIL ME, BE MY ICON and www.Cupid among the new additions.

In 2017, NECCO, the oldest candy company in America, sold 8 billion hearts. But the company as a whole was struggling and was sold at a bankruptcy auction in 2018. The new owners subsequently sold the company to another candy company. To the shock of NECCO’s 230 workers, the new owners, the Spangler Candy Company, abruptly shut down the plant and announced that no Sweethearts would be produced in 2019. Not a sweet thing to do.

Stricken fans of Sweethearts and Necco Wafers began hoarding the remaining supplies as soon as the news of the factory’s closing surfaced. However, the Brach’s Candy Company was gleeful. They also produce conversational hearts, albeit without a company history dating back to the Civil War. Quoted in Food and Wine Magazine, a spokesman for Brach’s boasted, ” …we offer a much broader range of on-trend  flavors, colors and textures…as far as the sayings go, Brach’s Conversational Hearts are laser-printed, delivering much higher accuracy than Necco’s stamped process.”

Fans of NECCO’s hearts aren’t buying this talk at all. I personally feel that the blurriness or off-center nature of some of Sweethearts’ words were part of their charm. Love is never perfect.




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