Archives For humor

In our big pink bus, we travelled to Wittenberg, famed as the spot where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church, becoming a major turning point in the Protestant Reformation.

Wittenberg, GermanyIn another beautiful, peaceful, medieval German town, we toured Luther’s house, saw Luther chocolate (?), Luther monuments, and even ate a “Luther Meal”:

“We ate some pork, beef and chicken with wine sauce, vegetables from ‘Katie’s Garden’ (carrots, turnips and parsnips), mashed peas, brown bread with mustard, apple dumpling, and of course wine. We ate and drank out of cool ceramic goblets and plates.” -journal excerpt

By the end, we’d had our fill of Martin Luther.

Martin Luther, ink sketch

Martin Luther, ink sketch

Though characterized as “the father of the Reformation,” and without question a highly important figure in church history, Luther was a real jerk sometimes. He said a lot of rotten stuff, and did a lot of rotten stuff. But he also worked hard to affect real change, real reforms that were definitely needed. He stood strong against corruption and didn’t give in to serious opposition. He was a real person, mixed with good and bad, and he made a place in history by working for what he believed was good and right.

As a side note, I have to share that we walked down some stairs and peered through a hole in a stone wall, looking at a mirror to see a reflection of Martin Luther’s toilet. Oh yes. I saw his loo, his WC. He apparently, like so many of us, did a lot of brainstorming in the bathroom. Don’t judge.




Achilles Heel

Mary Liz Ingram —  April 9, 2014 — Leave a comment

Achilles heel, meet Mary Liz’s eye.

An artist needs her eye. My eye’s have always been in good shape. I can draw tiny things, see tiny things.

Until my eye met paper. Paper got a little too up close and personal over a week ago.

With one fell swoop, I was down for the count.

I felt incapacitated.

I sat around with my eyes closed for two and a half days. I wasn’t sick, so I wasn’t tired and didn’t want to keep sleeping. I couldn’t watch TV, read, look at much at all. When I opened my eye, it felt like glass and razor blades were in there, so I kept it closed and found my “happy place.” A reposed into a zen-like state and tried to wait it out. Heal, eye, heal!!!

It was a strange forced experiment: What can you see with your eyes shut?

You can see a lot, actually.

Eyes Closed, ink doodle

Eyes Closed, ink doodle

I knew how to walk around my house without peeking. I could eat without missing my mouth. I could find my purse in the car, rummage in the right pocket, find my gum, unwrap it, put it in my mouth, and put the trash in the right spot without looking. I could brush my teeth, I could get dressed, I could fix my hair in a bun or pony tail without opening my eyes. I knew where we were on the roads driving to and from the eye doctor. If I categorized it, the stuff I could “see” was the “boring” stuff: the routine, the normal, the everyday. But it was amazing how accurate you can be without seeing.

After a few days, the pain was a bit better thanks to the eye doctor and lots of eye drops. That’s when I started wearing my sunglasses at night…and all the time. As I write, I’m still wearing my sunglasses.  This is for two reasons: #1 so the light doesn’t bother my eye, #2 so my odd looking eye doesn’t bother your eyes.

They look a little “mismatched,” we’ll say, due to my eyedrops. The upside is I get ready quicker since I don’t put on eye make up!

Wonky, ink doodle

Wonky, ink doodle


Sunglasses at Night, ink doodle

Sunglasses at Night, ink doodle

While the healing process has been dragging on and on and on, I know and have been told it will be fine. My vision is all blurry, but my right eye is working hard to help out it’s neighbor while he (or she?) recovers. Now that I’m getting better at just using the one eye – and I’m much better at “winking” than I used to be – I drew a few doodles from the photos I’d texted to my family, showing my “eye report” for the day. Hope they don’t freak you out 😉 (that’s my squinty eye smiley).

Luckily, my eye injury will not lead to my downfall like Achilles’ heel.

Just a temporary, semi shut-down.

Still, it’s amazing what destruction one tiny corner of paper can do!

I leave you with this important lesson: DON’T EVER PAPER CUT YOUR EYE!!!

Cherries on Top

Mary Liz Ingram —  March 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

Today was sweet and sour.

Beginning with morning cereal and milk, the day quickly spoiled as the scent of sewage came wafting from my laundry room.

An unusually complicated, multiple detour, traffic battling drive to work added a splash of vinegar to the mix.

Already a day in bad taste, heavy circumstances added a heavy helping of more nastiness to the recipe of the day.

Come midday, this unpleasant parfait of rotten luck took a better turn.

Plumbing troubles swiftly fixed with only a kind charge of creative trade pushed the stinky mix off the plate.

The sun shone brighter, my heart felt lighter, my prospects were certainly more palatable.

A successful elementary school talent show added a simple sweetness to the afternoon.

The evening topped off with a warm family dinner, a gift in good taste.

A surprise entree by a knowledgable waiter added a touch of culinary adventure.

The end to this sweet and sour day was a bowl of cherries – literally.

A fun treat from a generous waiter.

A much needed reminder.

No matter what blunders and sewage may come,

“Life is a bowl of cherries.”

And meant to be enjoyed…

Bowl of Cherries, marker

Bowl of Cherries, marker


A Rear View

Mary Liz Ingram —  March 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

It’s been nine years since I sat on the cool marble bench, in a brightly lit room, surrounded by people.

One of my dearest friends by my side, we stared at a very nice, very shapely rear end.

We had quite a conversation about this certain rump, exposed and shining in the overhead light.

We laughed and closed one eye, pretending to give it a pinch from our seats.

We even took a few pictures.

Michelangelo knew how to sculpt a butt. David has quite a nice tushy.

That was not the only time I’ve been mooned by a statue.

We residents of Birmingham, Alabama can be mooned any day of the week by our resident Roman god of the forge, Vulcan.

Sloss Furnace, 12x14 pastel

Sloss Furnace, 12×14 pastel

Vulcan watches over “the Magic City,” which grew so fast in the early 1900s due to the abundance of materials and ability to make iron and steel (hence Sloss Furnaces!). He has a pretty cool story. We had to write reports all about him back in my early school days. Here’s a snippet about Vulcan, but you should really check out Vulcan’s full story.

“Vulcan, Birmingham Alabama’s colossal statue is the world’s largest cast iron statue and considered one of the most memorable works of civic art in the United States. Designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti and cast from local iron in 1904, it has overlooked the urban landscape of Alabama’s largest city since the 1930s.” (source)

So in my pursuit of capturing iconic landmarks and pieces of the “Retro South” with my pastels, I of course am obligated to give homage to Vulcan.

Now, Birmingham residents may notice what I chose to depict in his hand. Vulcan, restored in 1999, now holds a spear. But when I was growing up, he held a lighted torch. It glowed green on days when there were no traffic fatalities, and red when someone had died in an accident.

Perhaps a little strange, a little morbid, a little heavy for kids, but my sister and I were obsessed with seeing if anyone died or not each day. I confess I was a little disappointed when this quirky signal was changed. But hey, my kids still love to see if they can spy Vulcan atop Red Mountain whenever there’s a chance.

And they thought it hilarious the day we were at Vulcan Park, standing on his pedestal overlook, high in the air, looking up at his big naked booty.

Vulcan, 8x13 pastel

Vulcan, 8×13 pastel

Kids are Fun

Mary Liz Ingram —  February 13, 2014 — 2 Comments

I love my life.

I just have to say it.

Sure, most nights I collapse on the couch in exhaustion. Yep, some days are pretty rotten and I want to pull my hair out. My kids fuss at a me at least a few times everyday, sometimes it seems to be most of the day. I have to change a lot of gross diapers, do A LOT of laundry (the bane of my existence), constantly take out trash and wash dishes…you know, all that rotating, never-ending domestic stuff. I have to squeeze in showers on busy mornings, and rush off to work with frazzled hair. I get cranky and fussy and bossy and pitiful when my poor husband comes home, and he assuages me with cookies to bring me back down to homeostasis. I get dates mixed up when I have too many meetings and tasks at hand, and I get behind on returning calls and art association blog posts. I take a lot of Advil and I have a dirty car.

But I. LOVE. MY. LIFE.Messy Fun

And nothing reminds me more than a tea party with my 1 year old.

The simple joys of being a kid. Nibbling plastic cupcakes and sipping pretend tea. Playing. Laughing. Drawing. Painting.

It makes all the rush and dirt and stink of the have-to’s just a small part of the program and not the real show.

…That’s the way it should be, I think.

"Nora's Tea Party," 6x6 watercolor doodle

“Nora’s Tea Party,” 6×6 watercolor doodle


Intermission over, the curtains raise. The mother enters.

Scene 3: Piano & Jumper Cables

Another night passes and we find the mother once again fixing breakfast in the kitchen. Boosted by the happy ending of her suspendered adventure of the previous day, her outlook is bright.

The work day commences and comes to a well-ordered end in time to make an early carpool arrival – ensuring a timely appearance for her daughter’s second piano lesson. In line for half an hour, with snacks prepared and resting thoughtfulness underway, she sketches and thinks and waits.

Rear View Mirror Doodle, ink on napkin

Rear View Mirror Doodle, ink on napkin

Ah, the cars crank and brake lights glow. Ready for the slow crawl around the corner towards the school, she turns the key. Tick tick tick – nothing.

tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick – nothing.

Nothing, Nothing, NOTHING!!!!!

It’s too much. It’s the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

With wide, glazing eyes she waves the moving carpool line around her unmoving car. She calls her husband and her mother and her stamina fails.

She cries.

She sits in carpool line and cries. Pitiful.

Knowing the eagerly awaited piano lesson will be missed, she sits deflated and calls the instructor. But wait! Cancellations have been made and another lesson time is available whenever the mother can get there! Saved from the tears of her daughter on top of her own, another surprise approaches.

A kind stranger, circling back, pulls in front and signals for the mother to pop the hood. With jumper cables and an understanding smile, with his bouncing daughter watching from the back seat, he starts her car! Again, the mother cries, but this time overwhelmed by the kindness of others.

The day is saved and the mother carries on.


Scene 4: Sanitized Lungs

Night falls and the tired mother sinks into the couch, a glass of wine and a heated blanket. Surely, surely, that’s enough fun for one week. With an inner pep-talk, she tells herself that tomorrow is Friday…just plain Friday. Work and done.

Morning comes and father is ill.

With little sympathy where there should be more, the groggy mother impatiently fusses at father for not taking his medicine. Upon further discussion over medicinal locations, and the lack of discovery, she exclaims in short-tempered exasperation “You’re a MAN!!!” and stomps to the shower. Poor father, getting the brunt of a bad week at 6:00am.

With a haggard disposition and weary eyes, she puts her head down and pushes through the day. A pendulum of kindness and frustration, she tries to regain her balance and clarity. She takes father to the doctor, with three silly kids bobbing and chattering behind her.



The diagnosis seems a cruel joke: severe flu and bronchitis.

Father is settled onto the couch, as quarantined as one can get in a small home of five people. The mother takes a deep, careful breath and puts on another metaphorical hat, dosing medication and spraying lots of Lysol. A spaghetti dinner and chicken noodle soup are readily provided by friends, and the mother continues to scurry back and forth around the house, tidying and germ-killing and care-taking.

Sitting at her desk in the quiet of an afternoon family rest, the mother reflects upon the strange, yet ordinary stories of a long, long week. There always seems to be a snag, a hole, a bump, a crash that must be navigated. She knows you can’t change it, you just have to take what comes and find some humor in each adventure. It helps her carry on and find a warm spot to rest at the end of the day.

Curtain closes.

“Maybe we do the right things, maybe we do the wrong, spending each day, wending our way along. But when we want to sing, we sing. When we want to dance, we dance. You can do your betting, we’re getting some fun out of life.” -Some Fun Out of Life, Madeleine Peyroux

Tired Tiara, charcoal sketch

Tired Artist with Tiara, charcoal sketch


Check out the previous installments:

Such is Life, Act 4 part 1

Such is Life, Act 1

Such is Life, Act 2

Such is Life, Act 3


One household, five members full

In fair Homewood, where we lay our scene

From busy morns break new delays

Where civil snags make civil mouths unclean

From forth the tragic flaws of these few days

A mother of three children takes the stage


The curtains raise, the mother enters

Scene 1: Uphill Both Ways

Rising early, she has the morning routine skillfully arranged to ready her family for a day of work and school. With father at work and car in the shop, her mother’s car sits in the cold, frost-tipped morning waiting to be warmed.

Children bundled and lunches packed, they prepare to load and buckle and drive.

With fogging breath, the mother discovers that the car seats and stroller have been mistakenly driven away to an early morning meeting. A few icy breaths worth of thoughts and the choice is clear. The cold walk to school, baby carried close, must begin.

Undeterred by this small flaw in an otherwise clockwork morning, she ignores it as a bad omen of things to come. Chattering away about the luck of living near school and the brisk, bracing exercise, she encourages her chilly people all the way to the school doors. With kisses for their cold noses, she sends them in and trudges back home to wait for the returned carseat.

Scene 2: The Red Suspenders

Through the day and a night and into the morning, we find the young mother pulling on striped pants and red suspenders. Circus Day has come again.

Let the audience remember that dreaded day past, when a costumed carload careened down the icy slopes of suburbia. When the mother, in the same red suspenders, clung tightly to the wheel as her children squealed and the tires slid on the incapacitating and unexpected Alabama snow.

With these memories in the forefront of her mind, and dismissing any fear of repetition, she observes her appearance in the bedroom mirror. Quite pleased with the ability to wear such garb in public – for Preschool Circus Day explains anything – she grabs her mug of coffee and wrenches open what frozen car doors she can, loading the children and heading to school.

Circus Day brings costumes and popcorn, cotton candy and laughter for hours at her little school, full of happy children. No snow, no ice.

Flat Tire View

Flat Tire View

At the end of the day, with lights off and doors locked, she installs her tu-tued baby in the car and pulls out of the lot. She notices the car jiggle a bit. Hmmm…. Continuing on, the jiggle worsens to a wobble. On a beautiful, scenic, sloping curve, the mother pulls off to assess the predicament.

Standing in the cold, in red shoes and red suspenders, she discovers a very flat tire. Finding refuge from the chill, she climbs back in the car, makes necessary rescue calls. She laughs, the baby plays, and they wait.

and wait. and wait. and wait.

Once the other children have been fetched from school, father arrives in answer to the distress call. As with most repairs, the tire changing encounters several troubles and delays. In one harrowing instance, the car rolls forward off the jack towards the sloping hillside, mother and baby still inside. With baby removed, the now-frozen clown-clad mother and helpful father continue to try and change the tire. In the background, one hears the older children arguing and the baby wreaking havoc in the car behind.

Spare tire on, car lowered, the mother sees that it too is half flat. With red suspenders, crossed fingers and slow driving, she makes it to the tire store. With children and father back home, the mother walks confidently into the store and explains the situation. In questionable attire and with her mother’s car, she is perhaps mistaken for a younger person rather than a weary adult, and the owner takes pity. Waiting in clown clothes, drawing a few looks, the mother is surprised to hear the owner say the tire is repaired “at no charge.”

Red Shoes & Linoleum, marker & colored pencil

Red Shoes & Linoleum, marker & colored pencil

The happy clown mother bounces into her mother’s car and home, just in the nick of time for her next adventure.

Curtains fall. Intermission begins.

The Red Suspenders, ink & colored pencil

The Red Suspenders, ink & colored pencil


Such is Life, Act 4: “An Ordinary Tragedy” part 2 to come…


Check out the previous installments:

Such is Life, Act 1

Such is Life, Act 2

Such is Life, Act 3



On Christmas morning, the family is gathered round the tree, sharing thoughtful gifts and making memories. We’re all there, my mom and dad, my three kids and husband, my sister, brother-in-law, my little niece and nephew. We’ve spent time and effort choosing meaningful gifts to share and enjoy.

Some of us may or may not be wearing some wonderfully horrible pajama shirts from the 80s, recently recovered from the attic. Some of us may or may not be wearing spectacularly tacky (and award-winning, I might add) Christmas sweaters. Some of us may or may not have received man-sized superman jammies, and home-made ties.

Let me pause a moment.

Yes, we are very silly. We had a jolly good time. Merry Christmas!

This year we introduced “Granny gifts.” You see, my Granny – whom I reference quiet often as passing down art and so much goodness into my life – she gave some terrible gifts. I mean it. One year, “the year of the beret,” she gave almost every girl a red fleece beret. It was a little weird (somehow I was overlooked..whew!). In her memory, we decided we would sneak in a Granny gift here and there, and you never know when it’s coming.

Switch back to the serious, sugary Christmas experience:

My sister is opening a small watercolor of her son on his tricycle. “Awwwww…” Then she opens a watercolor of her beloved Golden Retriever. “Ohhhh…Eloise!!!” Then a sketch of her baby girl. “Ooooohh, so cute!!!”

Then BAM. The Granny gift. A large, obviously framed, picture-sized gift awaits unwrapping. I can hardly contain myself. Snickering and rocking back and forth in my Christmas sweater, I watch her warily tear the paper.

What’s new pussycat?

It’s an ink and colored pencil portrait of my sister and Tom Jones – that’s right – riding a unicorn with a backdrop of rainbows. Boom.

Full Color

Full Color

I’m sure you have your share of inside jokes, and I’m sure my Facebook have been unable to avoid my sister and my “obsession” with harassing each other with Tom Jones. It all goes back to her move to Savannah, when she met her neighbor, the non-singer Tom Jones.

Upon hearing the name, I belt out in “She’s a Lady” and “What’s New Pussycat,” to her confusion and horror. She had never. heard. of. Tom. Jones. Flabbergasted, we first call mother and let her sing a few tunes, proving I am not the only weirdo around.

Then we proceed to google Tom Jones.


The wealth of questionable pictures readily available on the web sparked a flood of fun. We text and post and share awkward Tom Jones photos with our own captions like there’s no tomorrow. You should try it, it’s fun. And if you’re looking for a treat for the eyes and the ears, just take a peek at this video (give it a minute, you won’t be sorry):

Anyway, back to my story. I mean, how could I not create and give her such a treasure?! Oh, Tommy, what fun and joy you bring to our little lives.

The Sketch


Target Practice

Mary Liz Ingram —  November 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Over the river and through the wood, to Homestead Hollow we go…old cabins and smokehouses, bee hives and broom makers, blacksmiths and craft tents, hillbilly sandwiches and fried pies. A perfect Fall Saturday in the heart of the South, we come, we eat, we see, we walk, we explore, we buy. With the kids carrying their name-stamped horse shoes, homemade brooms and toy bows with eraser-tipped arrows, we truck it back through the field-turned-parking-lot to the car.

Arriving home and practically falling out of the car in haste, the kids bolt across the driveway into the yard, finding the perfect bullseye in a hole in the wooden fence. Target practice begins.

We practice through mornings and afternoons, through a week and into tomorrow. We are good at aiming, elbows up, strong and steady. Bullseye.

The weather turns cold, the children wear shorts: time for clothes shopping. In the midst of “the great purge of 2013,” I have to buy more. Children grow, you know.

Just minutes away from the hole in the fence, I am a walking target.

I enter the game fully aware, readily on guard. The bullseye stares at me from high above: Target. It mocks me from the carts, the bags, the signs, the door, the elevator buttons.

List clutched, I’m determined to escape with my wits and minimal, resourcefully chosen items. Silly store, you can’t distract me with your fabulous…oh, look at that dress…  Wait, wait, where was I. Target, I won’t be swayed by your…aw, look at those little shoes! Argh! Shake it off. That sweater looks so comfy. No! We’re headed THIS way.

Assaulted from every side with beautiful things I don’t need, my children are right there with me. “Mommy, can I pleeeease have these boots???” “Oh, Mommy, I just want ONE of these toys, just ONE, okay????” I try to clear the mist from my eyes and I make a firm buggy-beeline for the toddler section. Watch me focus! Watch me resist! Using my willpower, I explore the $5 mix and match display, ready to choose wisely.

But then the children start spinning. The baby – who was let out of her seat due to ear-piercing shrieks – starts ransacking the sock display and takes off in one direction with a pair of blue socks. My son dives into a clothes rack somewhere to my left. With my scary-calm, slow-speaking mom voice, I regroup my little posse and try to pick out some leggings to match this cookies & milk shirt. The baby hightails it right with her sassy walk and the son chases after. The pattern continues. I don’t even know what I’m saying, or what colors I’m choosing anymore. These look good. Sure, this is probably right. Get back over here. Stop throwing the leggings on the ground! Son, where are you! Get back over here. Don’t grab those. Where are the d@*# long-sleeved white t-shirts??

They’ve broken me. I’m a broken, easy target. Thanks store, with your beautiful objects and eye-level treasures.

The arrows start flying; I just want to make it out alive. Sure, you can have those shoes. Here are some pants, these look good. I just start grabbing.

Somehow, I held on long enough to stick (mostly) to my list, only having one rogue pair of pants that somehow made it into the buggy.

With “sucker” written all over me, I trudge my way to the car, all three kids attached to me in some form, my bags – with their red target logos all over them – hang somewhere off my body.

We survived.

Target Practice, Ink Doodle

Target Practice, Ink Doodle


Mary Liz Ingram —  October 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

In my 32 years, I’ve traveled to many countries: Jordan, Syria, Italy, France, Ireland, England, Mexico, Jamaica, Bahamas, Belize, Canada…I love it.

Since I had kids, my traveling days have been pretty nonexistent. Until recently.

I prepared myself for a new foreign experience. I don’t speak the language, and my eyes have ignored the culture as much as possible.

I loaded up in the car with my handy tour guide, an expert in the field and walking guidebook.

Dressed for cultural assimilation, we began our 40 minute journey… to Tuscaloosa. On Gameday.

If you are a Southerner, you know what I’m talking about. Football is different down here. Fans go ALL. OUT. I have never cared for nor watched football on my own initiative. In elementary school on “team colors day,” I was confused and appeared lame in my regular attire. Just recently a man bagging my groceries asked me “Do you go for Alabama or Auburn?” When I replied neither because I don’t really watch football, he was aghast and blurted out “What is wrong with you!?” For serious.

But this time, my husband won 4 tickets to the Zone, so Bama shirts on, we loaded up 2 of the 3 kids and headed to T-town.


Gameday rides

Gameday rides

Moving down the interstate with throngs of fans, caravans of crimson and white cars decked out in flags & houndstooth magnets, my husband tearing up when the kids instinctively boo the opposing team driving past in buses…This is a new experience for me.

My nature rebelled, asking me why I’m wearing this bill board of a shirt, but I’m taking one for the team…my team, i.e. my family. My trusty tour guide was openly hoping for a conversion to take place in his anti-football wife. His actual words were: “I’m hoping the tradition, the pageantry and the beauty that is Alabama football takes root and you become a diehard fan.”

Um, never.

We did have fun. I went “all in,” wore the shirt, wore a “Beat Everybody” pin. The stadium is a giant monolith, the crowd crimson and dressed to the nines. I was definitely immersed in a culture unfamiliar. But I’ve done it! I’ve been there, seen what there is to see, stood in a mass/line to take a picture of my husband and kids with a statue (still weird…). I have experienced a big part of “my South” that I had been missing. Not a convert, but I at least gave it a taste.


Sweet home Alabama 
Where the skies are so blue 
Sweet Home Alabama 
Lord, I’m coming home to you

Passing it on, ink & colored pencil

Passing it on, ink & colored pencil