Redesigning Women — and Man

So, here is my blog’s redesign, which I love.  It features a painting we own, Berlin, by an Austin artist named Lavanna Martin.  Lavanna is currently painting portraits of people in coffeehouses throughout Austin and I love her work.

There’s a story behind this painting, of course.  I first saw it on election night 2004.  My husband and I were feeling celebratory, since early results indicated John Kerry would win.  God, we were so trusting, so innocent, so sadly naive back then!

We were at our favorite restaurant in Austin, Jeffrey’s, eating well and being served by our favorite waiter, Johnny Guffey.  Johnny always knows the freshest gossip in town and spends much of his time amusing his customers with outrageous stories and opinions.  As usual, the restaurant featured a local artist — and I was particularly struck by one painting on the other side of the room.  I loved its warmth, its vivid style.

“If Kerry wins this election,” I told my husband, “you have to get me that painting for my birthday.”

He agreed and we knocked back a couple of drinks.  We toasted, we talked,we ate well.

Then, the news turned bad.  Our daughter texted us that Bush was moving ahead and leading.  Our long national nightmare wasn’t going to be over that night.  Four more stomach-churning years awaited us.

“If Bush wins again, I really want that painting,” I told my husband.  “It might cheer me up.  I was just kidding about making it contingent on Kerry’s winning.”

Well, you know the rest of the story.  The painting came to live in our living room and George W. Bush hung on in the White House and spent his political capital.

I started this blog a couple of years ago, first using a backdrop owned by a company, which I liked.  Along the way, I hired a blog manager, Cathy Harned, who’s saved my sanity and protected my blog from my high-tech wretchedness. She’s also helped me increase my audience size and statistics. Cathy and Tanya of TanyasLogos did all the heavy lifting in redesigning the blog — and I highly recommend them.

I want to thank them and Lavanna Martin and my husband for suggesting I use the painting.  I also want to thank John Kerry and George W. Bush for absolutely nothing, except four rotten years.  But hey, at least I got the painting.

(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)

Read one of my favorite posts about the horror of red leopardskin glasses: a true story

12 comments… add one
  • I LOVE the redesign. Makes me want to just move in. Why shouldn’t cafe society in Austin be as alluring as Toulouse Lautrec’s Paris? And the conversation is better, when you’re at the table.

  • Hi, Ruth.
    My, your blog looks so nice. Thank you so much for putting my painting in your masthead.
    I hope things are treating you well up there.

  • Love the redesign–it’s gorgeous! And I wish I’d thought to get a pick-me-up present for Bush’s reelection. All I got was a sour taste in my mouth that lasted 4 years.

  • It’s fun to see the new design (that some of us previewed) and to know the story behind the image. Congrats on the new look. I’m so jealous.

  • What a beautiful site this is. Congratulations!

  • Looks great!

  • Thank you for the kind words, Ruth.  Much appreciated!  It’s always fun to work with you, and am thrilled that your readers approve of the changes, smiles.


  • ‘she’s painting portraits of people at coffeehouses throughout Austin’ I really like that idea. and congratulations on the redesign.

  • Great story about the painting!  And, I love the new look. Paintings as gifts remain special, I think.   My second husband gave me a painting instead of an engagement ring, and I am reminded of why I love him every time I see that painting …

  • Winston Link

    I love your new banner!  I think the painting is most fitting for your blog.
    The bright candlelit table at forefront represents the gossipy, high-spirited comedic values you often inject into your writing, while that large darkened doorway looming in the rear suggests the deeper, darker, serious tones also revealed in some of your posts.
    Good choice!

  • The redesign looks – fabulous.  But, are those really your favourite reads? 

  • ruthpennebaker Link

    Thank you all.  I love the way it looks, too.  No, Duchess, these ARE NOT MY FAVORITE READS, believe you moi.  Good to have you back — and what a lovely photo of you and your grandchild on your mother’s blog.  Winston, honey, you’re better than ever.

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