Character studies

Age: Celeste Estrella is nineteen years old.

Item of clothing: long flowing hippie skirt or dress made from natural fabric

Food: Suicide fudge bars

Theme song: Keep on Walkin’ and Don’t Look Back

Defining moment: Her father died when she was eight months old.

Behavior arising from defining moment:

Estrella is dressed in short denim cutoffs and a tie-on bra shirt she made herself from a remnant of yellow cotton fabric with flowers on it, reminiscent of Grandma’s apron. She recently had pneumonia, and lost her freshman 25 pounds, is slim, and is feeling pretty good about herself. She has a tan — a near impossible feat for a Scandinavian. She works that tan forty hours a week. She is headed to the bar to drink and shoot pool; she recently turned nineteen, and today the drinking age dropped from twenty-one to eighteen, because of the Viet Nam war.

What Estrella does after a three foot snowfall: she makes hats and headbands out of a remnant of cool polar fleece fabric she has in her small stash.

Her dialogue at age ten after the three foot snowstorm:

Estrella looks at herself in the mirror. “When I am twenty, I will know everything. But for now, I’ll put on my blue snowsuit and jump off the garage to the driveway below.

Dramatic moment at her current age:

Estrella looks at herself in the mirror, remembering that she thought by age twenty, she would know everything. “I’m nineteen now, and I don’t know anything yet.”

As she gazes in the mirror, her face transforms before her. “I’m … beautiful? What? The thing I always wanted, isn’t that the best a woman can be?” The one thing she’d learned from her family is that she needed to find a husband asap. One with a well paying job. “Now that I’m beautiful, what’s the next step?” She remembers her mother’s marriage and wants none of that. “ Nancy married a monster, Mom married a monster, Grandma married a monster. What even was Great Grandma’s story? She's only heard snippets.

Estrella steps away from the mirror, somehow feeling more grown up.

Rene: age 66

Item of clothing: sandals or boots, not shoes

One object she carries: the necklace that symbolizes a drop of water. Water knows all water.

Favorite food: delicious food that makes her feel good from the inside out.

Theme song: At Last

Defining moment:

Estrella was new to religion, and had asked God for a sign. Early on the morning of November 1, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, before there was a vaccine available, she walks into her office. It’s early, and it’s dark. She doesn’t know it yet, but her first grandson was born overnight. In the small triangle of sky that she can see that isn’t blocked by her neighbor’s house, a super moon is shining Uber brilliantly, like an eye. Estrella suddenly becomes overwhelmed by the power of the light and shrinks back, turning away. Her curiosity overcomes her fear and she tentatively turns back and peeks at the moon. It pulses even more brilliantly, as if to say, “Yeah, you.”

Behavior resulting from her defining moment:

Rene wants to unite her family. Not an easy task where grudges are sometimes held for a decade. She’s been at it since she organized her mother’s 75th and 90th birthday parties. Since she was a kid, really, trying to figure out why the adults acted out of hatred towards each other.

She is driving in the dark to her second cousin’s Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapy session. It’s the first time she’s driven in the dark since her cataract surgery a few years ago, but she has confidence because she made the drive in the light yesterday, just to make sure. She is grateful, now, that she prepared.

Her introverted soul has some pangs of fear as she approaches the door, but she is warmly greeted and led into a room of, she finds out, like souls. There is water and healthy snacks, and the conversation in the group of ten is about past lives, tales of remarkable healing, color blindness. She mentions that she is a Bahai, and talks about how Christianity just never worked for her once she found out that all non Christians went straight to hell. “That’s made up by humans, God would never do that.” She thought, even at age 7.

The program is about to begin. Intentions are set. Rene thinks back to the car that swerved towards hers on the freeway earlier that day, causing her to come face to face her own mortality. “Sobriety,” Rene thinks.

After some warm-up visualizations, ‘You’re on a busy street corner,” Estrella finds herself in Paris, about to step into a busy street, when the arm of a stranger hold her back from stepping into the path of an oncoming taxi. ‘You’re in a train station,” she is brought back to the pianos, the sounds, smells and sights of the train stations on her and her husband’s railroad trip through France and Italy, Nice, Ventimiglia, Genova, Milano. “You’re on a carousel,” transports her to the day she rode a horse down a steep hill, into the lake on a ninety degree summer day. As Crescent, the horse, began to swim, it felt like being on a carousel, with the cool water soaking her, feeling the movement and support of the horse beneath her and the full on joy of the moment. “You’re eating a meal,” She is at the home of her Italian high school friend. She can smell and taste the delicious chicken and spinach gluten free sliders, while surrounded by old friends, music, laughter, and wine.

The evening’s main event is a visualization to find her spirit guide. “You’re climbing up a winding, steep hill,” brings Rene to Mount Tabor in Portland, an inactive volcano she recently visited with her daughter, son in law, and newborn grandson. “You come to a grove of beautiful trees, then a clearing, and then there is another grove of trees. Your inner guide is there, and he is about to come out. In his hands he has a box that contains a gift for you.” Rene feels anticipation, wondering who, if anyone, will show up. She sees his sand colored robe and sandals first, then his kind, olive toned face, then his long, flowing hair…. “He is walking toward you. Ask him his name.” Rene doesn’t need to ask. That’s Jesus! He opens up the lid of the box and out flies a flock of shimmering blue, purple, and silver butterflies, in the shape of wings. His message is Freedom.

Dee Dee: the Artist





Makes her own fun

Saw God ride by on a retro modern bike

Never understood people’s cruelty

Likes to make stuff

I will survive


Certain musical chords pierce her soul

At the helm right now, wants to stay happy

Dee Dee is 5 years old. Her beloved item of clothing is her blue wool coat with matching snow pants. Her favorite food is sugar right out of the bowl, when Mom isn’t looking. Her theme song is Jamaica Farewell, Harry Belafonte had to leave a little girl in Kingston town. She plays the upright piano in the basement so well that her brother becomes jealous and glues the keys together. She can play Around the World in Eighty Days, self taught, with two hands, on her aunt Betty’s new baby grand. She loves to play with dolls in her closet, making up stories, the sound of Captain Kangaroo’s scissors cutting paper, and kindergarten has opened up a whole new world to her.

About DeMillo Design

Connie DeMillo is an arts educator and former graphic designer. I currently teach Design Basics and Online Drawing in Plymouth, MN.

This site is about sharing knowledge I find helpful on my journey through life, trying to improve as an artist and as a human being.