Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Postcard from the Sea of Life - Villas by the See


I was impolite and I committed murder. Murder is one thing, but I still couldn't believe I actually said "Get the flock out of here!" to the marauding Sulu Beloix- even if they were going to eat me. To celebrate remaining alive, I was sipping a glass of wine on the deck of the Ergo when I got dizzy, fell, struck my head on its bow as if I were a bottle of champagne, and passed out. Depingo overboard!

Apparently I fell into the Sea of Life, because when I regained consciousness I was being towed at a decent clip by my faithful dog, Bella, who had jumped in and saved me. My yacht was nowhere in sight.

While floating through the refreshing, restorative azure waters, I figured out that my carnivorous "friend" Sulu must have doped my Sauvingnon Blanc with a dose of animal tranquilizer, so that I would be manageable when she and her flock carried me off to be their main course.

I was nowhere near the Ergo, nor could I even see it in the distance. Bella seemed to be towing me with a purpose in mind, though, and soon we came to a multifaceted jewel–a lush, sparkling barrier island with colorful villas right on the beach. I determined we were off the coast of Fort Lauderdale because the Ergo had been heading back to NYC when I took my swan-dive. Even so, it didn't look like any location in Florida I had ever seen before. In fact, it had the look of Tuscany. The villas were pretty, lyrically designed three-story-high dwellings right on the beach. There were none of the ubiquitous homely, white Floridian high-rises in sight.

Bella and I finally reached the sandy shore. I was happy to lose my sea legs and find my land legs still in good working order. The village had a curious name–Villas by the See. The apparent misspelling of the word "sea" struck me as an interesting play on words. I fell in love with the island and the villas instantly. I usually have trouble making up my mind about almost anything in life, but in this case, everything was crystal clear. I was certain that this was where I wanted to live for the rest of my life.

Bella and I went directly to the Villas by the See sales office. Within a few minutes I had a six-figure deposit wire-transferred from my bank in NYC to the developer and signed a contract which promised another hefty payment at the closing, which was scheduled for the next week. I was absolutely enchanted that I was going to live in this charming village. Bella was excited, too, because they allowed dogs. The home I bought was the lovliest of all the Villas, a penthouse right on the beach, overlooking the Atlantic and fully furnished with tasteful, unusual furniture. All I had to do was move in–no shopping or any such prosaic activity.

As I wrapped up the paperwork, I could see Captain Sum, who had finally caught up with me and Bella, anchoring off the beach. He knows me all too well, so he knew for sure what I was up to. But instead of being happy for me, he looked a little nervous, maybe even irritated. He told me that I should not make impulsive decisions. I told him we could talk about it as soon as I finished measuring the coral reef sofa. I wanted to make sure a painting of mine I had in mind to hang over it would fit.

Something strange happened as I was measuring that sofa. Every time I measured it, I got a different result. The sofa seemed to be measuring smaller and smaller. Was the coral reef shrinking? No, it couldn't be. I was probably hallucinating as an aftereffect of the header I had taken against the Ergo's bow. Then I noticed another peculiarity. The villa's marble floors were curling up, turning blue, forming waves and rapidly getting pulled into the sea by a powerful riptide. I had an excruciating headache by this time, couldn't concentrate and nothing was making any sense. I had had it! I ordered Captain Sum to measure the coral reef sofa, or at least what was left of it, for me.

Resigned, Captain Sum took out a tape measure and started measuring the sofa. He, too, couldn't get the same measurement twice. I also noticed he was now knee-deep in foamy turbulent water and was shivering. "Cold feet!," I thought, "Captain Sum has cold feet!" I was standing in the very same water and my lower appendages were foot loose and fancy free. Eventually the sofa got so small there was nothing left to measure. Then my new home, which I loved with a passion, and the entire village became blurry. They began to undulate as though I were viewing everything through a sheet of water. My beautiful villa was being chipped away by the lapping waters of the incoming tide as if it were no more than an oversized sand castle. In a matter of minutes, Captain Sum, Bella and I were left standing on a sparking, sandy island somewhere off the Florida coast with nothing on it at all, except that curious hand-painted sign, Villas by the See.

Captain Sum, with the I-told-you-so look in his eye that he frequently adopts in situations like this, led Bella back to the Ergo. I noticed a couple of circling sea fowl following him. "Cashpoor!, cashpoor!, cashpoor!," they squawked. I called to the Captain and asked him what the avian commotion was all about. " They're just taking cheep shots at me," he replied.

Before returning to the Ergo, I studied the sign for one last time. The cryptic name of the Villas suddenly became all too clear to me. I got it! I knew why they called it Villas by the See ...because

Now you see it, now you don't.

Paint on,


  1. I'm pretty sure you paid the seabirds to mock me.

  2. I LOVE your blog. Every time I read it I think you are the smartest person I know.

  3. I am so bereft over circumstances beyond our control that until now have been unable to post. Please return asap to the See--we all are missing you and Mr. Depingo.

  4. Can Captain Sum come too? We will return to the See and all will be merry. It is written in the stars! xoxo

  5. But you may still prevail....and get the Villa....

  6. No problem, as long as Im not the victim.