What a Rush: Cheering in the Middle of 100,000+ Coloradans for Obama

This past Sunday, Steve and I walked down to the Obama rally in Civic Center Park in downtown Denver.  Wow!  I have literally never in my life been in the middle of a crowd of more than 100,000 cheering people.

I was still “humming” from the energy of the people as I painted in my studio today.  The hope and yearning for positive change for our country was so evident in the crowd and the people we talked with around us.

Looking east towards the state capitol... from the middle of 100,000 fans
Looking east towards the state capitol... from the middle of 100,000 fans

I especially liked that Obama wasn’t all “frosting and sprinkles”.  I think the changes we have coming won’t be easy and I, for one, am ready to stand up and make more changes myself to help us get there.  Here’s how Obama put it:

Now, make no mistake: the change we need won’t come easy or without cost. We will all need to tighten our belts, we will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together.

At a defining moment like this, we don’t have the luxury of relying on the same political games and the same political tactics that are used every election to divide us from one another and make us afraid of one another. With the challenges and crises we face right now, we cannot afford to divide this country by class or region; by who we are or what policies we support.

There are no real or fake parts of this country. We are not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this nation we all love this country, no matter where we live or where we come from. There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq and patriots who opposed it; patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women from Colorado and all across America who serve on our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America they have served the United States of America.

We have always been at our best when we’ve had leadership that called us to look past our differences and come together as one nation, as one people; leadership that rallied this entire country to a common purpose to a higher purpose. And I am running for President of the United States of America because that is the country we need to be right now.

This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed the same divisions and fear tactics and our own petty differences to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?

Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success?

The DNC and Free From my Republican Past

The Democratic National Convention is in Denver this week and there’s lots of action and energy here (check out this snapshot of my partner, Steve, with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom from yesterday!).

I thought this’d be a great time to post about a small piece of memorabilia that I came across this summer.  I’ll start by saying that I’d classify myself, my views and my values as “moderate liberal”.  But, that’s most certainly not where I came from!

My memorabilia - I was registered as a Republican in college...

I grew up in a pretty conservative family – my immediate family members have continued to drift away and to the rigid right as I’ve grown up and discovered who I am.  This, along with the fact that I just happen to be gay, has left me with little or no relationship with them at this point.  Well, they DO also all live in Idaho, so maybe there really IS something in the water up there?

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but I don’t believe in the Iraq war.  I don’t believe in spending billions of dollars that we don’t have.  I don’t believe in lowering taxes while our deficit continues to skyrocket.  I don’t believe in raping the environment to satisfy our every, selfish want.  I don’t believe that oil is the answer, now or in the future.  I don’t believe that bake sales should have to help fund our schools.  I don’t believe greed should rule our leaders, corporations or Douglas County, Colorado.

I DO believe in God, in health for all, in being good stewards of the Earth, in taxing ourselves to pay for what we buy, in equal rights for all people, in really great education for our children, in peace, in humanity and taking care of the poor, sick and old…  I also believe in the information age and I believe in the internet (and a Presidental candidate that has actually used it).

I can’t remember that day in June, 1988 when I clearly registered as a Republican.  I do remember learning from my parents that “well-off” people are Republicans.  Maybe I wanted to make sure I remained “well-off”?  You may remember from a past post that I also learned from my parents that I’d be kicked out of the family if I became a train engineer when I grew up (because I’d have to be in a “union”, which is something I knew nothing about at age 6).

So yes, I’m excited the DNC is here.  And yes, I’ll be supporting Barack Obama.  And yes, I love my tie-dye “DenverCrat” tee shirt!

My DenverCrat Tee Shirt

Rudeness is Just Unnecessary…

This morning I drove down to the Curtis Arts & Humanities Center in Greenwood Village to drop off artwork for the upcoming Colorado Watercolor Society’s “New Trends Exhibit”.

The Curtis Center is a great little art space, but I’ll have to say that the Cultural Arts Coordinator, Jo Cole, was just a bit unnecessarily rude to me.  She first ordered me to remove the packaging on my art and then instructed me to lean my metal-framed art up against the glass/plexi of another, larger painting.  When I voiced my concern about damaging the art, she rudely informed me that glass can’t get damaged (which is untrue for glass and VERY untrue for plexiglass).  I left not only wondering why I deserved even this minor rudeness, but concerned about how well my art would be taken care of while at the Curtis Center.

I think there is way too much rudeness in our everyday lives.  I’ve personally struggled with anger issues for many years and am sure I can further improve my interactions with others.  In fact, I will renew my personal pledge right now to be kinder and gentler to everyone I meet!

Elementals No. 9, watercolor on paper, 16 x 26 inches.  On display at the “New Trends Exhibit” at the Curtis Arts Center, May 3 – 30, 2008.

Juxtaposed: Autumn’s Death, Winter Solstice & Crocus

“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.”

                                    — Ecclesiastes 

It struck me today, on this last day of Autumn, that there are a few things in my life that need to die.  As we move into Winter, and a season of dead and stillness, I know that I can’t be still.  All seasons need to be (and are!) seasons of change for me – for my life, my loves, my art, my journey.
    I’m not typcially one who carries a load of bad spirit around with me, but angst is often close by.  So right now, I’d like to let go of a couple of negative things whose time has expired; things I don’t have room for any longer in my heart.  This season of change, from Autumn to Winter, I will allow and even encourage these things to die.
      And just think – I’ll have room for new things to spring up within me.  Just like the Crocus that are already coming up in my garden!
        Crocus in my garden as the snow started to fly on this last day of Autumn, 2007.

        Murphy Cat in her “Taco”

        Many of you know that I moved my studio into our house back in late September in anticipation of moving into my NEW studio space in November.  Well, renovation construction has been delayed (several months!), so I have my studio space set up in our front sunroom (that is also under renovation).  It is working pretty well – I have enough space for my large work surface and clients seem to like coming by to check out paintings in progress and see available artwork actually hanging in a home environment.

        And then there is our cat, Murphy.  She just can’t seem to resist getting up on my painting table since it is apparently a great perch for viewing all of the excitement we have going on out on the street in front of our house.  I know there are squirrels and birds out there, but also lots of dog-walking going on and passerbys of all sorts – great entertainment for a cat.

        Well, after discovering Murphy one day with purple paint on her tail (and some unplanned “additionals” to one of my wet paintings-in-progress), I had to resort to discouraging her from jumping up on my work table by misting her with my studio water spray bottle.  Looks like she needs a refresher course on this lesson since I just caught her jumping down from my table.  After being naughty, she always runs and gets in her cat bed (we call it her “taco”) with a practiced “I didn’t do anything naughty” look about her.

        I’m sure looking forward to having my own studio space back!

        Murphy cat in her “taco” trying to look very innocent…

        More Birthday Art…

        Several more pieces of artwork that people sent to me as gifts for my recent 40th birthday…

        Firmament Re-found, digital photo collage of my painting Firmament Found, by S. Zeiden.

        A.T. Castle (my grandfather), digital photo scan, H. Castle.

        Untitled collage, by J. Wuthrich.

        Another Birthday Painting – An Original by Stefan Geissbuhler!!

        Here is another one of the “castle”-themed paintings I received for my 40th birthday – by one of my favorite Colorado artists, Stefan Geissbuhler!!

        Stefan and I met several years ago on the art festival “circuit”, and I’ve always loved his artwork.  Now I have one of his originals for my collection – thanks Stefan!!  Be sure to check out Stefan’s artwork on his website.

        Castle, acrylic on board by Stefan Geissbuhler… I love this painting!!

        Lordy, Lordy! David is 40!

        Today is my 40th birthday.  Wow.  I’m mean, really, 4 DECADES of life here on Earth.  I don’t especially see this birthday as some great milestone – the milestones in my life seemed to have come whenever they want and not on a nice, neat 4-decade-demarcation such as today.

        But, I will say my partner Steve gave me a really wonderful gift this morning to mark my 40th… and so many wonderful people in my life participated!  Months ago, Steve asked folks to create a piece of 8×8″ art using the theme of “castle” – it could be anything from a photo to original art to a poem.  WOW!  I’m so amazed at the creations people sent – from as far away as Germany!

        I now have over 30 great pieces of art to commemorate my 40th birthday.  Some are paintings/collages from my professional artist friends (while others are from my especially artistic friends), some are photos from years past (including a photo of my Grandfather Castle that surely must be from the 1930’s, and some great photos of me and friends at various castles throughout Europe), some are written word/poems (some that made me laugh out loud and some that made me cry) and some are hand drawings from some great kids.

        They are all wonderful – thank you so much to everyone that contributed!!  This will certainly be a gift to treasure for my next 40 years!  I think throughout the rest of October, I’ll post images of the art I received to share with everyone – see some below!

        “Paper Castle” collage by Nancy P.

        Untitled Collage by Joan Z. (Steve’s Mom). 

        Untitled Collage by Tracey K.

        Left Hand Carpal Tunnel Update: Stitches Out!

        I finally got the stitches out of my left hand today!  I sure was ready to get that big, puffy bandage off, but what a big baby I was at Dr. Hurley’s office – I had to lie down after they unwrapped my bandage because I nearly passed out!  Many folks know that I grew up on a farm doing all sorts of bloody things to animals, but apparently when it comes to the sight of my own blood (and there wasn’t even any blood today), I’m all woozy and faint. 

        In any case – it’s all done now, but, I still won’t be able to do much with it (like not lift much weight over a few pounds) for the next month.  And, the pain since surgery with my left hand has been noticeably worse than with my right hand, so I’m having a more difficult time with it being uncomfortable to just paint.  Just think though, in two months I’ll be as good as new!  Overall I’m very excited about the success of going through the carpal tunnel release surgeries on each hand.

        After getting my stitches out… I had to have a band-aid put on so I wouldn’t see my “wound”…

        Carpal Tunnel Surgery Part 2 (Left Hand)

        Yesterday Dr. Hurley performed the release operation on my left hand.  Everything went very well (I was even quite a bit more awake during the surgery and remember some of it) and I’m now recouperating at home.  The pain after surgery with my left hand doesn’t seem to be as bad as the right and since I’m right-handed, having my left hand out of commission will surely be much easier than the right!  But, I really stressed myself out trying to get too much done over the last several weeks leading up to this surgery.

        Scheduling this second surgery was difficult now that I know to expect a longer recovery period.  I had to finish moving out of my old studio first and then need to be recovered enough to lift heavy objects in order to move into my new studio at the end of October.  Plus, I need to be able to productively create more inventory for the One of a Kind Show in Chicago in early December that I’ll be exhibiting at.  So, it was either late this week or wait until next year.  Of course we had “super-sized” our healthcare coverage for this year so that these two surgeries would be fully covered and hadn’t planned to continue at that level next year.  So I feel like I just squeaked it into a pretty narrow window.

        The good news is that my studio move (temporarily into my house) is complete and I got the front sun room that I’ll be using as my studio space further renovated (insulation installed and 75% of the drywall hung – THANK YOU, Steve, for helping with that!).  I actually hope to be painting in there some by Monday… but for now, I’m going to get some rest.

        My rather swollen left hand resting on my icepack this morning… it will be nearly two weeks before this bandage comes off and the stitches come out!

        Carpal Tunnel Surgery Update

        I thought I’d give everyone an update on my recovery from carpal tunnel surgery…. first to thank everyone that commented here on my blog with encouraging words and well-wishes for a speedy recovery.  I also received quite a few emails from folks, so thank you again to everyone – all the thoughts and prayers have helped!

        Second, I have a few snapshots from getting my stitches out this morning.  My surgeon, Dr. Hurley and his staff have been great, especially with my high level of anxiety on having my painting hand cut open!  But, I will say that I expected to be doing more with my hand at this point than I am.  After getting my stitches out this morning, I spent a bit of time in my studio (it has been almost 2 weeks since I last painted!), but will have to take it easy for awhile longer.  I know I’ll be able to paint more this week, but am not supposed to lift any real weight over a few pounds for the rest of the month.  Good thing most of my materials are pretty light weight!

        Finally, a great big thank you to my partner Steve, who has been taking great care of me (from squeezing the toothpaste to doing all of the laundry)!  I’m sure things will be easier when I get my left hand done in September.

        Right before my hand was finally set free this morning from this darn bandage… 

        Right after getting my stitches out this morning…

        Recovering from surgery…

        According to my surgeon, Dr. Davis Hurley, the surgery on my right hand went well.  And, the carpal tunnel was apparently quite constricted, so he is optimistic about the results I will get once everything heals.  I’ll have my hand in a bandage for 10 days and then get my stiches out, so I might not be doing as much with my hand as I had hoped.  I’m going to take it easy through the weekend and see if I think I can do anything in my studio next week!

        Recouping at home with my hand on ice…

        Carpal Tunnel Surgery – Right Hand First

        I’ve not mentioned this to many folks – I’m scheduled to have my first carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand on Wednesday, July 25th (and I’ll have my left hand done in late August or early September).  I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous about the whole thing.  It is apparently (alledgedly?) pretty routine stuff, but when the surgery center called me today to get all the pre-op information they needed, she did emphasize that “while routine, it IS surgery”.  Recovery should be fairly quick, but I’ll be out of my studio until probably next week.

        I first started having pain and numbness problems with both hands nearly ten years ago when I still worked as a technology guy.  Back then, they believed carpal tunnel was primarily due to work-related activities.  Now I’m told it is more likely genetic and NOT related to repetative work (such as computer work).  In any case, in the last few years, it has gotten progressively worse.  I now have to take short breaks from my painting several times a day to relieve numbness.  And, when doing intensive work such as renovating a rental property for two weeks recently, the pain and numbness gets so bad that I have to stop working completely after a few hours.

         So, even though I’m pretty nervous about the whole thing, I hope and pray that it will correct my problem so I can just get on with painting!

        Steve Came to Visit…

        Steve came to visit this past weekend…  We had some great weather, so we took a drive up the coast to Astoria where we climbed the Astoria Column, discovered the fabulous Lunar Boy Gallery and then crossed the bridge to Washington State so Steve could add it to his list of “US States Visited”.  We also stopped at one of my favorite spots on the Oregon coast – Hug Point.

        Steve at Hug Point, OR… the rocks washing up the beach in the waves makes a unique sound I’ve never heard on any other beach.

        Astoria, OR from the Astoria Column… view is of the Columbia River flowing into the Pacific and Washington State on the other side of the bridge.

        And while the paint dries…

        Today, my first day back in the studio since before Christmas, had me painting furiously on several in-progress originals.  When I’m away from my studio, I often paint “in my head”, actually working out design, technique and color issues that I then tackle when I’m back in my studio.  I clearly had lots worked out in my head because by mid-afternoon, all of my flat painting surfaces (I have 3 large tables right now) were full of drying paintings.  I’m working on really “puddle-y” stuff right now, so nothing could be moved to make more room to work.

        Then it started to snow and I found myself sitting on my studio floor watching it snow and thinking about my desire to get my art in front of (and in the home of) everyday people.  I quickly felt completely deflated (maybe the Rufus Wainwright on my iPod contributed).  And really depressed.  This year, I had thought alot about getting people’s attention with my art and offering my art as an alternative to the cookie-cutter-made-in-China trinkets offered by the big-box stores.  Wouldn’t people be drawn to an original piece of art that is unlike anything else in all of God’s creation, rather than a decorative item that every Pottery Barn in the country has hundreds of?

        I thought about this “attention-getting” a year ago when I created my marketing plan, my event schedule and my charity donations.  I thought about it in my interactions with art collectors and passers-by, my correspondance and collaborations.  And today, as I watched my puddles of paint dry and the snow fall, I really felt like I had made minimal impact with most of the people that have been exposed to my art throughout the year.

        Some of my big puddles of paint take up to two days to dry – gives me alot of time to think about making a bigger (and better) impact in 2007.

        Chocolate Mint Sandwich Christmas Cookie Recipe (with gluten-free option!)

        Well, I never did make it out to my studio this week…. the blizzard kept me in until Saturday, and then I only got out to pick up artwork from a gallery show in Denver.

         So, I thought I’d share a favorite Christmas cookie recipe.  And, since more of my friends and family are being diagnosed as gluten-intolerant, I’ve adapted it to make it gluten-free.  Enjoy – Merry Christmas!

         Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

        David Castle’s Mint Sandwich Cookies

         2 cups flour

        [gluten-free:  instead of 2 cups flour, substitute: 2/3 cup superfine white rice flour, 2/3 cup corn starch, 2/3 cup tapioca flour, and 2 teaspoons potato flour]

        ½ cup cocoa
        2 teaspoons baking soda
        pinch salt
        2/3 cup unsalted butter
        ¾ cup granulated sugar
        ¼ cup light corn syrup
        1 egg

         24 round York Peppermint Patties (unwrapped)

         Combine flour(s), cocoa, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.  Beat butter, white sugar and corn syrup until creamy.  Beat in egg.  Gradually mix in flour mixture.  Refrigerate dough for 2 hours.  Roll dough into scant 1” balls and roll in white granulated sugar.  Bake on an ungreased baking sheet in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Immediately remove half of the baked cookies, placing them upside down on a wire rack.  Working quickly, place a peppermint patty on each inverted cookie and top with a second cookie from the baking sheet.  Let stand for 3 minutes and then using a flat hand, gently flatten the sandwich (using a slight twisting motion helps) so the melted peppermint patty oozes to the cookie edge.

        Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

        Meanwhile at my studio…

        A blizzard hit Colorado today!  Here in central Denver, we have a foot and it’s supposed to continue into tomorrow… maybe we’ll have the first white Christmas in years!  Here are some shots from our upper and lower decks.



        So, I didn’t make it out to my studio downtown today – the roads are a mess.   However, meanwhile at my studio, these Fossils are at work drying.  I’m usually very anxious to get back to my studio to see the results of various Fossils (which take between 8-48 hours to dry), but I love snow, so will stay around home and enjoy for the next day or two.

        Fossils in progress - drying