About Big Al

I was born in Buffalo, New York. My father was a personnel manager by day and a professional magician by night. My mother was a first grade teacher by day and a magician’s assistant by night. They used to tell my sister and I that we had magic in our DNA. I believed them then. I still do.

When we weren’t practicing our violins, my sister and I hid out in our attic clubhouse where we read Nancy Drew mysteries, wrote our own short stories, made collages, and sketched and painted. We were happiest when we were creating something, and our allowances were usually spent on books and art materials.

A strong thread that connected our family was our deep love for animals. I can’t recall a time that our household wasn’t inhabited by at least three cats, an occasional dog, and a myriad of other hobo creatures just passing through in need of a good meal or some veterinary care. Birds, squirrels, and most of the neighborhood cats usually managed to mooch a daily freebie from the outdoor food bowl. We had dogs with obsessive cravings for leather coats and automobile seatbelts. We had cats who opened drawers, kidnapped our softest woolen sweaters and carried them off to secret places, never to be seen again. No matter how severe their misdemeanors, none of our pets were ever tried and punished for their crimes. My father just chalked up these unfortunate incidents to the offending animal’s individuality.

Decades later, in my own home on the opposite coast in California, things haven’t really changed much. I’m still playing my violin (and cello), and I’m still painting and writing. My clubhouse is now my studio, and I’m still happiest whenever I’m immersed in my art and my music. I teach violin and play in various chamber groups and small sinfonias. I also sell antiques in a wonderfully quirky antiques shop in Graton. My husband is a talented artist and musician, and we’re always busy with multiple projects. It’s a radically freelance lifestyle without much of a routine schedule, but we both manage to stay focused and on track. I don’t think I could live it any other way.

Our many animals provide us with continuous entertainment, and our door is always open to hungry strays looking for love and a good home. The rooster next door sings arias all day and joins us for play dates while we’re gardening in the backyard. A colony of friendly dragonflies lives in the garden surrounding our brick patio, and the red-tail hawks have just returned for the tenth year to their nest in the eucalyptus grove behind our house. During the summer evenings, all sorts of nocturnal creatures lumber up from the creek to feast on the fruit from our trees, and we’re more than happy to share with them. We no longer leave our drying rack on the back deck, though, because last year the raccoons made off with the majority of our fig harvest.

We are grateful for the many simple yet profound ways in which our lives are continually blessed. Life is good.

I donate 20% of the proceeds from the sale of all my artwork – paintings, prints, greeting cards, and books – to animal welfare and rescue organizations. Many thanks for your support!