Sunday, December 12, 2010

Xmas Chicken

I've never been too skilled in wrapping gifts.  Either a person can tell immediately what it is, or they tilt their heads with a confused look and ask, "It's a gift?"

If you play your cards right, this image could be yours -on a card even!  A whole set of them, with envelopes!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Yeah. I have no idea.

I don't know how you're supposed to give this to someone without offending them.  Maybe I should have the image made into a fridge magnet instead?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Inside the fishbowl

You think things are so peaceful and tranquil in there, but really it's complicated.

Shameless self promotion continues.  Go to the Etsy shop and buy some. 
If it's any comfort to you I have learned my lesson and will never again try and make something seasonal.  I feel like my little cards are going to spoil like milk after the 25th. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

You didn't know you needed this till now

I made Christmas cards.  Lots of them. 
I was like the little red hen, I thought of the picture, I sketched the picture, I drew the picture, I painted the picture, I glued a little bit of origami paper in the shape of a pile of poo to the picture, I wrote the snarky quote in the picture, and I had the picture printed on nice card stock to make with the Christmas happy.
Now who's going to buy my picture?
Seriously.  Limited offer.  Clocks ticking, get with the clicking.  Go to the Etsy site and order yours.  Love me.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


Moving in many directions simultaneously sounds busy and productive but it probably means I'm just moving in circles.  November was a whirlwind of activities but I'm not sure what they all added up to. 

The writing goals, well I didn't meet my goal word count wise, but I did manage to reshuffle things and re-invision the story better I think in my lastest revision.

Painting wise, I went on a bit of a bender while I still had some heat out there in the studio and I've made small 5x5 paintings from cut up pieces of scrap boards that a kind neighbor gave me.
I also worked out a set of 12 illustrations with pencil, pen and ink and watercolor.  I've had these printed up in to cards, with the hope of selling them.

On the crazy Alice front, I've started taking meds for ADD.  I don't know.  I think I have an easier time focusing, I can handle distractions a little better now.  It's unfortunately not the magic pill I had hoped for, but that's a little silly to hope for anyway.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I've decided to cheat

Besides the constant insanity and pressing demands of children, married life, ect, there's one thing that really bothers me and always sets off red flags in my mind, and that's when I catch myself saying "I can't".

I'm a big proponent of choices, and 'can't' doesn't fit with my paradigm so to speak.  If you can't do something then you've made choices that determined that.  You see?  So, there really isn't any such thing as I can't, just regrets from poor choices and being stuck with the consequences. 

Think about it, let it soak in a minute.  Here's an example: I can't make it to school in time.  -Well that would be determined by prior choices right?  Like when you set the alarm, how many times you hit snooze.  Yeah.  Can't and I, we don't jive.

There are things that I won't tackle or I'm afraid to try, but I try to be honest with myself about what the problem is.  If I can figure out what the obstacles are, than I can make different choices.  Simple enough, not to belabor the point.

So November is on the horizon and Nanowrimo is coming.  For those of you not familiar with it, Nano is the awesomest thing ever.  It's an amazing community of like minded crazy fuckers all struggling and striving to write a novel, to complete a rough draft of 50,000 words in 30 days.  You can learn more about it, here What is Nanowrimo?  I would encourage anyone with even the fainest aspirations of writing to dive in and try it.  The biggest benefit is that it will push you to write a novel, rather than talking thinking or dreaming of doing it.  Once it's done you can decide if it's for you.  You can choose to revise or trash what you create, but you can rest in the knowledge that you did it.

So, I love the process.  I love the community, the sense of drive, of push towards a goal.  But as November begins I'm knee deep in a revision that flounders.  An idea that I love, but struggle with, a plot that has flaws, characters that make me question their motivation.  It doesn't feel right to bail from this endeavor just when I'm in the thick of the struggle, but it also doesn't feel right to say that I can't commit to nano this year.  Recap, Can't =red flags, ect.

So I've decided to cheat.  I'm going to keep on with my revision and log in my word counts and push towards the goal of 50,000 by December 1st.  Real winners of nano will be turning in completely original works written during November.  I however will be working and reworking the words I've already made in order to, hopefully, have a finished workable draft by December.

So I'll be logging in my word counts and enjoying the pep-talks and write ins as much as possible but aiming for a different goal.  I think it's a compromise that works.  I'll stop just shy of declaring myself a winner if I make it but I'm excited to add the powerful engine of community and peer pressure to my efforts.

That and, I have to keep painting!  I was so lucky to find someone who likes my work enough to work out a great barter.  One big painting for a wall with some french doors for my studio.  She has building experience and the know how and it will go such a long way towards winterizing the studio.  Very excited to make the space even more functional.

Also, found a place for my latest article here, I Am Modern feel free to comment on their site!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Assorted bouncy thoughts

Been on a bit of a bender painting wise.  Last week I painted two radish paintings, two pear paintings, one road, a cow, and an avocado.

Today I tried to follow that up with an oxen and a goat but the paint was moving wrong on the canvas and I was too eager to solve the problems than to work through them and build solutions. 

The latest theory I'm kicking around is that I might have ADD.  To me this is ground breaking revolutionary thought.  Maybe my brain doesn't have to bounce around inside my head like a little ping pong ball.  People that know me are less wowed with my self diagnosis.  Writing a novel, a blog and a humor column, painting every random thing that lands in front of me, forgetting appointments, losing things and having a hard time sticking to any kind of a schedule.  It's amazing I didn't think of it sooner. 

I think the reason painting feels so satisfying for me, is that I'm using different parts of my brain simultaneously, or in a bouncy kind of way.  Just drawing I have a hard time, but in painting I'm measuring and balancing tonal values and finding colors and balancing the composition all in one big push.  It's manageable, but it's also everything at once.

My writing is progressing at a snails pace now.  I hit road blocks, tried doubling back and got all discombobulated.  Thankfully I have a wonderful writing group and if they can't help keep me on track I'm surely a lost cause.  Writing books is tedious, confusing, complicated stuff.  I'm going to try and fit in a visit to a book store this weekend.  There's something encouraging about walking down aisles and aisles of books by people that actually succeeded in doing it. 

Kids are settling into the school schedule and starting to explore different extra-curriculars.  Cub scouts and art club for Felix, Girl Scouts for Emer as well as a girls running program called, Girls on the Run.  -Besides just focusing on fitness, the program is designed to help girls develop a healthy body image before they plunge into the abyss of puberty.  Tully is going to be in the Daisies, Girl Scouts lite, and she's taking a dance class offered through the PTO after school.  She has no inhibitions and her dance style shows it.  To say she loves it is an understatement.  She danced all the way to the car afterward. 

Goats are happy goating.  Paintings of goats are sure to fill the shop soon. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dysfunctional fundraising. What it lacks in logic it doubles in fun!

I’m not a fan of fundraisers.  There’s something disconcerting to me about setting kids up to sell things by the side of the road.  Granted, it can provide a valuable life lesson by helping them see first hand the pitfalls in a life of crime, the humiliation of pan handling, but it makes me uncomfortable to see them beg. It’s just begging with props.  The humiliation they have to experience to endure the whole process is a bonus, but hardly one that warrants the price.

In the younger age brackets there are the girl scouts in front of the grocery store with their boxes of sweets.  What’s the underlying message there?  What are we teaching these girls?  It’s okay to accost total strangers with promises of a sweet, guilt laden pleasures as long as they get paid?  Even worse is the financial lesson of selling something and giving such a large cut to your pimp, I mean Girl Scout Cookie Central.  I think when my girl gets suckered into this, I mean volunteers, I will wear a long coat, platform shoes and a hat with a big feather in it as I supervise.

I know there are other parents just as uncomfortable with the idea.  Trying to save their girls from the humiliation of a life on the streets they strong arm co-workers into paying exorbitant fees for cookies.  Do me a favor, okay?  If you need money to pay for your daughter’s extra-curricular, have some balls and just ask for the money outright.  Don’t bring some innocent cookie into your financial troubles.  Don’t taint the loveliness of baked goods with prices that hint at extortion.

Boy Scouts, already at a disadvantage with no cute skirts or jaunty berets, are left with the undesirable task of selling popcorn.  40 dollars for two boxes of microwaveable popcorn?  And you’re not even going to come over to my house and push the buttons on the microwave for me?  How much does that break down to per kernel?  Not to push conspiracy theories, but has anyone checked to see how many lobbyists for the corn industry have kids in the boy scouts?

The high school fundraiser is usually a car wash. Attractive high school students, predominately female, jump up and down holding signs.  Young pert nubile ladies bouncing in their white shirts, as if to say, “I have no idea that white clothing becomes transparent when wet, and my school spirit is abundant!”

To their credit though, I suspect these ladies are merely a lure, that drivers follow the bouncing signs around the corner behind the Denny’s to find band members and math club geeks doing the hard work of scrubbing grime off of bumpers.  This is especially torturous for said geeks.  First to catch the unchecked expression of disappointment on the driver’s face and then to have such close proximity to the harsh soaps required to clean a car.  I’m just saying it’s bound to aggravate their acne.

This past Saturday I drove into Purcellville and encountered a new kind of fundraiser all together.  One that has filled me with wonder and awe.  Clusters of kids with signs, as well as big swirling flags.  In one group there was a kid playing a bugle.  In another there was a tuba.  These kids were really trying to attract attention.  And they were successful, to an extent, with me.  I couldn’t look away.  I read the signs, but I still don’t understand why they were advertising a mattress sale at their school.

So many questions.

Who decides to buy a mattress as an impulse purchase?  Who is waiting for the perfect school fund raiser to come along so they can replace their current mattress?  Do you really want to encounter these types of people, in the hard light of day? Is there something I don’t know?  Is there a bed bug infestation running rampant in Purcellville?  Did they actually sell even one mattress?

Who thought this was a good idea?  At what school board meeting did they discuss the poor state of funds and look at this as a solution?  Who, in that meeting, is in bed with a mattress salesperson, and how did they talk everyone else into the hopeless scheme?

And the children.  Think of the children.  Never mind that they were given an impossible sale, they put forth such a valiant effort.  Flags and musical instruments?  Really?  “You know, I wasn’t planning to buy a mattress, but that boy is twirling that flag in such a compelling manner. . .”

The only bright side I can imagine to this fiasco is that these kids will have something to talk about at their reunion.  “Hey remember that time we sold mattresses for the school fund raiser?”

“Yeah, that was so much better than the next year when we sold blank VHS videotapes.”

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


So, Felix has been reading a lot of comic books lately, and then Emer seems to have picked them all up and read through them as well.  The down side to their shared interest is an excess of comic books strewn about on the floor.  In the process of picking them up I've become distracted with the visual incongruities.

Did anyone think to tell the Hulk how unattractive that shade of green is?  And is it a coincidence that much of his demeanor seems like roid rage?  And all the women of these comics have the perky well rounded breasts.  It's not fair, or realistic.  I was at my most stupid and least focused when my breasts were in that condition.

Superman, the Hulk, even Spider man, all scratch a fantasy itch of sorts, a kind of justice for the awkward geeky boys.  So where is our heroine?  Where is the saggy-breasted, down trodden mother figure's alter ego, and what would it be?

Or better yet, what if there weren't an alter ego?  What if her super power was her previously perceived imperfection?
Sagorilla and the swinging pendulum breasts of doom.  With a quick turn of her shoulders, whole armies are decimated.
Or Stretchmark Sally, the bluish white glare of sunshine bouncing off her scars blinds people while simultaneously making them appreciate that they'll never have to see that again.
Nagalicious.  Her constant nagging and reminders lull unsuspecting victims into a sleep-like stupor.
Refrigor-raider.  She empties refrigerators of all but the most rudimentary and unpleasant condiments while failing to cook any palatable meals.

There might be some material there to work with.
Any resemblance between me and the fictional characters mentioned is just unfortunate and sad.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Various thoughts and imperitives

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. Cecil Beaton

I have the studio cleaned and organized better now.  I'm focusing on making the space as functional as possible.  I'm fired up and ready to go in September -painting and writing, writing and painting.  I'm determined to make something worthwhile.  I'm so tired of feeling like I'm spinning my wheels.

"When there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire."

I have the kindling and the match at the ready.  All I need is time.  A month of summer left.  I want to enjoy the time with the kids.  I want to make the most of it, but the fighting between them all is driving me crazy.  

More and more trouble getting along with, relating to, Felix.  I feel almost like he's slipping away from me behind all this unpleasant behavior.  I've got a number of doc appts to try and track down what's going on with him.  Allergies, Acid reflux, Asperger's syndrome, Tourette's -there are a lot of possible explanations but I'm just hoping for some better guide to know how to help him.  

And then underneath that, there's this lingering fear that if something is misfiring in him, that maybe that comes from me.  Maybe there is a reason why I am this marginally functional creative weirdo.  

And to bring it full circle, that's why I feel more determined than ever to get something done, made, pushed to better.  I just really need to feel like I'm pushing towards better at something rather than stuck in mediocre.  

That's all I have for now.  Oh, and also I need to blog more frequently.  -We'll see if I can. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

New road

A good friend with a body of artwork I really admire gave me some great advice and I'm taking it.
I know.  Me, taking somebody's advice.  Strange times.

Whatever skills I have as a painter are wasted with my crazy love of everything.  What I needed was a theme in order to develop my voice, to explore different styles while staying within the confines of the theme.  It doesn't hurt either to have pieces that make sense viewed together.  I mean horses and toothpaste are fine, but it's kind of embarrassing trying to explain away the lack of focus there.  It was pretty obvious that I was just randomly choosing images that caught my eye or copying other artists.

I'm into the second week of the experiment and I'm still pretty excited about it.  Every painting is either a road or a view from the car as I drove on a road.  And in a nice parallel I feel like I'm traveling down a new road myself.  Trying to build up something unique from a blah image, trying to develop a visual voice of my own instead of copying the styles of others.  I'm getting there.  Lots of experiment, tons of fun.  Focus is good.

The first week's paintings had a tentative quiet look.  This week's work is bolder with higher contrast looser strokes, even some palette knife work.  As always my favorite painting is the last one I did.  Keep an eye on the shop, they'll be up as soon as they dry.  The heat is helping with that and I have a fan blowing on them as well.  I still need to work on photo quality though.  The paintings that are on Etsy look washed out.  

Now, of course I had to make some exceptions for my crazy.  I'm not painting anything that isn't a road, but I am experimenting with different printmaking methods, graphic design, and illustration to put on the silly wood blocks I'm making.  It feels really good to be divided.  My funny quirky goes here, my series effort goes here.  There.  Everything in its place.

I'm still struggling to find the same focus in my writing.  The novel.  Everything should be going into it, my funny, serious, weird.  But that book would be too long.  I'm going to work on revising two chapters each week.

In revising it's harder to set deadlines and goals.  I don't have a word count to push for.  I just have to keep plugging away and push through the fear of getting lost.  So my new commitment on that front is to print out the chapters and the beginning of the week and mark it up, take notes, do free writes all on those chapters.  It shouldn't be just a tinkering with what's already on the page.  I need to re -vision what's there. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hubris tastes like tabasco twinkies.

He was my bear.  For the moments I stood there in disbelief taking pictures. For the day following as I mulled over what it meant to have him out there.  He was mine.  

As much as he could be any one's that is.  I mean look at him.  He's suave, debonair, he obviously gets around.  He's a player.  I was a fool to be seduced by what we had together.  

Two mornings later there was evidence he'd been at Kaarin's house up the drive and across the road.  And I knew he would never be my bear again.

Her cooking is much better than mine.  Once he's tasted the refuse from her gourmet table, he'll never come back to my paltry offerings.  What are a few stale oreos in the wake of her muffoletta?  Even if he were to come back my way, it will be with a dissatisfied air.  You call this arugula?  His upturned snout will seem to say.  

It is amazing though, how spotting a new animal like this recreates the world.  I love the wilderness here.  I don't take it for granted. I still think it's special to watch a deer bound across my path, or a rabbit run for cover.  Even my ongoing battle with the porch eating squirrels is an entertaining novelty.  But now, the dark shadowed places in the wood hold more than shade.  Is it Promise?  Excitement? Danger?  Maybe a little of all those things.

I take it seriously.  I'm putting the trash where he shouldn't be able to get it.  I'm watching the kids more closely outside, telling neighbors and such.  But it's as if the encounter has forced a different conversation with the environment, one where I'm not the only speaker, where I can't dominate the conversation.
It's easy to wax poetic about the beauty of nature.  Some people read the Emerson in the comfort of their A/C and feel connected.  Others tiptoe in the mud to catch frogs.  But to live in an area with bears you have to form a different respect for nature, because it could actually kick your ass.  All the recycling and good intentions in the world are not relevant when you're sharing your space with a 400 or so pound wild animal.

For example, in the course of conversations someone shared the idea they had heard, from a friend of a friend, that a good solution for a trash loving, too close to home kind of bear was Twinkies soaked in Tabasco sauce.  It sounds good doesn't it?  Being a higher mammal it doesn't seem like it would take much more than some engineered food products and spices to solve the dilemma. 

A little research though proved that this was an exceptionally bad idea.  Apparently there is a kind of pepper spray actually intended for and marketed to repel bears.  It works like mace.  Sprayed in the eyes it does no permanent damage but it deters the interest of the bear.  Well as it turns out, like all things higher mammal, some people haven't been reading the directions on the cans of repellent.  After spraying this stuff it's strongly advised that you leave the area because the bear, though he doesn't like having the stuff sprayed in his face, is attracted to and likes the taste of the spray and will come back to an area and lick the leaves where it's been sprayed.  Bears like spicy. 

Operation Tabasco Twinkies was aborted in the nick of time.  The good news is we have lots of engineered food products to nibble on as we sit in the A/C and think about what it means to live in and with nature, rather than just on the land.

While we're cooped up, we can follow the news of the gulf oil spill and wonder about the implications.  Our hubris, our confidence as higher mammals, as the stewards of the Earth might be shaken enough to force a new conversation.  Knowing that nature, or our mistakes with it can rear up and kick our ass might force a level of respect from us that we've lacked and our relationship with the natural world can be recreated.

Related links
Here's a link to a good reference to dealing with black bears
Here is a link to an interesting article about bears being actually attracted to repellents

Sunday, May 09, 2010

My new favorite poet.

My Mom, 

by Felix

She is as warm as a fireplace. 

When she smiles it warms my heart like a fire warms me.

She is best when she is listened to. 

But watch out! If you sass back at her she is like a exploding bomb.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I've decided to quit doing my articles for the Leader.  -But it doesn't feel like quiting so much as just re-prioritizing, so I feel okay about it.  It was good experience for the discipline of writing a piece weekly but I think it's distracting me too much from the novel at the moment.  I really want to be done so I can send the manuscript out.

Also, with an actual art show coming up in May and more on the horizon, I need to get to work painting.  So many projects planned that I have to bring into existence.  I post here weekly, with photos of my work or my random thoughts.

Here is a link to the group I'm showing with for now.

Nova Arts Group

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Topical and funny? Like an ointment that tingles.

I can only meditate and ruminate on the lint in my belly button for so long.  It was inevitable that at some point this would happen.  Brace yourself, I’m going political.

I am a living example of why health care reform is necessary. I left home at 18.  I worked a variety of menial low wage jobs that taught me to appreciate the value of a dollar.  I also learned that an hour spent stirring huge vats of coleslaw/slicing tomatoes/mopping floors/cleaning fry-o-lators is an hour you can never get back.  I worked hard and lived poor.  I was struggling under the mistaken impression that hard work would pay off, but the truth is that hard work of the menial type tends to be a trap with no advancement or opportunities.

When I got bronchitis, I went to the hospital.  When I sliced my finger open, I went to the hospital. When I had a car accident, I went to the hospital.  The bills these visits incurred were too big to even consider paying.  So I didn’t.

Flash forward to now.  One of my children was recently diagnosed with Lyme disease.  If caught and treated early this won’t present a problem, but if left untreated the long term effects can be debilitating. Did you know Loudoun County has near epidemic numbers of cases of Lyme disease? And that’s the cases that have been diagnosed.  Only forty percent of people get the tell tale bulls-eye rash and fever. Lucky us, we have insurance, so when we spotted the rash we went to the doctor.

That was a $15 co-pay.  Without insurance that same visit would have cost $40 to $60.  Since it was only $15 though, I wasn’t shy about stopping in and checking out this strange rash.  Ask yourself honestly.  If you or one of your children had a rash, no other symptoms and a visit cost that much, would you go?  What if the rent was due, or the refrigerator was empty?  Would you put it off and see
if it got worse?

The doctor prescribed a course of antibiotics to treat the Lyme disease and I went to the pharmacy.  My normal pharmacy didn’t have it in stock, so I went to another.  Silly me, I didn’t have my insurance card with me and they didn’t have my information on file.  With three children misbehaving, I was in a rush to leave. I asked what it would cost without insurance, thinking I could sort out the insurance later
and get reimbursed.  300 dollars!

Without insurance this kind of price tag is unmanageable for most.  If you’re working a job that doesn’t provide health insurance, chances are that you’re probably low wage and poor.  Though Loudoun County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country –there are still poor people here. They are bagging your groceries, serving your fries and picking your vegetables in the fields.  Those are the very same fields that are teeming with deer ticks.  You can tell yourself it’s not your problem, but the long-term medical ailments that will afflict people with undiagnosed or untreated Lyme disease will burden us all. We can either pay now and hopefully prevent illness and regulate the cost, or let the problem fester until costs spiral out of control.

People are tossing around the word Socialism in the news.  But I wonder if they even know what it means.  To me, the whole argument harkens back to ideas of Calvinism. -A variety of Protestantism practiced by a large majority of the first settlers in America, not the cartoon stickers of a little boy peeing on a Chevy or Ford logo. Though the specific ideas of the Calvinists have for the most part been rejected, the flavor of these ideas seems to be an undercurrent in discussions about wealth in our nation.  But then pissing on other people's ideas seems to be pretty common too.

In a Calvinist view everything is predetermined.  God has already chosen whom he will save or bless with his grace.  Therefore the rich, wealthy, attractive people are the chosen and their fortunes are simply a reflection of this. The poor are poor, and suffer misfortunes because they have not been chosen.  –It’s a pretty grim view of things really. These ideas seem to have gotten all stirred up with the work ethic pathos until the general din in the mass media is that the poor, are so, because they aren’t working hard enough, and it is their own fault and ‘we’ as a society shouldn’t support their sloth because it will simply encourage it.

Speaking of sloth.  My family health insurance costs about 15,000 a year.  My husband’s company pays about 2/3rds of that.  It’s a fairly substantial chunk for a group of people that are healthy. Whenever we do go to the hospital, we inevitably get a letter a few days later from our insurance company asking us if there is anyone responsible for the injury that they can sue for the cost.

We’ve already paid for our insurance, but if they can reduce the amount they have to pay out, they’ll have a higher profit margin.  If they can show good returns and profits they’ll get more investors and stock holders and the money will grow exponentially.  Sloth pays.  But real sloths hanging in the trees can't seem to make a dime.  And the hard work of people struggling with misfortunes fills the coffers of the already wealthy.

For too long our economy and our values have been separate. I can’t understand arguing against a system of health care that tries to merge compassion and practicality.  It’s easy to think that you’re
safe but it’s just a matter of time before unemployment or a tick bite you.  The tick isn't likely to be compassionate, but we can hope the society you're in will be.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mother of a ten year old. Yes, I am.

Here's my girl.  We went on a trail ride near Harper's Ferry and it was really pleasant.  I feel so fortunate to enjoy this age with her as she comes into her own.

But back to me.  Doesn't it always circle that way eventually?  I'm amazed at how transformative it's been to be a mother.  I'm not who I was then, and I can't imagine who I'd be without her.  I'm surely better.  
I remember when I was in labor with Emer.  I paced the hallways on the maternity ward and came to look out a window that looked out over the highway.  The same highway that everyone in the area has to drive on to get past Portsmouth NH.  I had this weird sense of vertigo where I felt like I could see/feel that other me, the before motherhood me, driving by on the road below me.  And I could never drive past there afterward without feeling that a part of me was still there, looking down.  As if part of me split off to live in that limbo, and is still there now.  Maybe I just tapped into the universal nature of it all.  My face out the window has been a thousand other faces, enjoying the same view as other women have undergone the same transformation.  I don't know if there's any thing else in life so that shapes you so completely as parenthood.
She is the first knife, carving me into who I need to be.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Mundane Thing (Struggle part 2)

We, I mean, I, was totally wrong about the need for mousetraps in the house.  It's a barbaric practice if you think about it.  We, I mean, I can't possibly sleep peacefully knowing our, I mean my, house is built on a foundation of pain and suffering.  Also -

No she would never sound like that.  That isn't it at all.

Well how would you suggest we go about doing this thing?

You just need to go on about some mundane thing until you hit a level of absurdity, then you take a left turn and you're there.

Fred, you're being a little general.  Could you give some specifics?

No, I can't.  I didn't actually pay attention.  Stuff like toothpaste mashed up on the edge of the sink, or the way toast is good when its warm, and not when it's not.

You're kidding me.


And people read this?

Well there's no proof that they aren't reading it.

So how would you suggest slipping in our subversive message? 

Subtlety.  Little by little.  I think we might want to discourage people from sweeping.  They probably have better things to do right?

How does this solve our problem?

Well, it doesn't solve the problem, but it gives us more crumbs to choose from while we work on the problem.  Also cats.  You can't say enough bad things about cats.

Where do I begin? 

I know huh?  It's a subject ripe with material.

Bill, Could you please move?

What here?  Go ahead.
No it's like a button with a letter on it and I have to hit them in the right order to make the words and your tail is in the way.

No, you don't have to do that Gerald is taking dictation.


Yeah he's like a typing acrobat you should see him.  It's an art really.  It's a shame he doesn't have much to say, or many opportunities to do this kind of work.

"What does it matter?  It's not like anyone reads this anyway."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Trap of Struggle (Part 1)

If there were no struggle to life it wouldn't be any fun.  If gravity didn’t fight against us our muscles would atrophy.    We are designed to struggle.  In a zen Buddhist meditative kind of way I think the struggle is good, because it reminds us that we're alive.  We should feel honored for the opportunity to be here and struggle.  That being said, the fight of life can be a bit of a drag.  It can wear on your patience.  As with all things, moderation, you know?
So I'm going to surrender a few of my struggles here to focus on the battles I have a chance of winning.
To the mouse:
Look, I'm sorry.  I know it was a sneaky trick.  I didn't mean to toy with your expectations.  For the record I'm not a mean person. Though, when the jaws of death snapped on whatever appendage it did, I'm sure it seemed like it.  I think I speak for myself, all mouse trap users, as well as the makers of the trap, when I say, you have exceeded all estimations of your will to live.  When I try and picture you dragging the whole trap back down there behind the wall, you look a little like Rambo.  I’m really amazed you could fit.  
Dude.  I'm impressed.  But now what?
Did you go to your family and show them mankind's handiwork in the hopes that they could free you, or to attend your own wake fully conscious and die in the comfort of home?  In the event that your brethren do free you from the trap I would like to discourage you from building one large enough for me.  It's just going to be difficult for you in a logistical sense, scale being what it is.  Also it might be hard deciding what to lay out as bait since my tastes are so mercurial and eccentric.  I've heard you all behind the walls.  I know you’re engaged in some heavy duty construction or destruction.  It’s almost Spring just let go of the struggle and move on.
To the kids:
I know you're siblings and there's a universal law that you will always argue, especially in front of me.  Lalalalalala! I can't hear you.  I'm going to give you lots of time to use your working it out skills while I jam my fingers in my ears.  Tell me when it's over.
To the laundry:
I know I’ll never win in the endless battle against your multitudes.  I'm going to re-envision the battle though.  I'm going to see the laundry as a tide that rises and falls.  I am the laundry ninja with the waxing and waning of the bleaching and staining.  Well that’s not exactly ninja-ish.  Hmm. I’ll sneak up on my own procrastination skills and Wa Tah!  The folding and sorting will be accomplished with a series of chopping motions and my cat like reflexes.  The point is I’m not going to let it bother me anymore.
To the stinkbugs:
You’re so deceptive.  The clumsy flying, the plodding aimless walk, like something prehistoric and stupid across my floor, up my coffee cup; you beg to be destroyed.  But that’s the trick isn’t it?  You’ll keep coming no matter how many we kill.  We will go crazy catching and killing, and the bills will go unpaid, the work left undone, society will fall to ruin and you will win.  I’m not going out like that. I’m going to surrender in the struggle against you individually so that I won’t succumb to your evil plot.
To the internet:
I’m not going to let it drive me crazy when I can’t access you.  I’m going to view it as an opportunity to focus on the present, to tune into my environment.  The times when I can log on will be a pleasant treat. 
Like now.  The kids are out of sight and most importantly out of earshot.  The laundry is far away and this room seems free of the stinkbug invasion. I have a comfortable spot and internet access..  It’s a pleasant treat and I’m just going to relax and enjoy it.
What is that?  My goodness, is that a pirate mouse?  It’s so small it’s hard to see, but it looks like it has a peg leg.  What is he doing?  Is he signaling to someone behind me?  What the   –SNAP.    

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Go Check Yourself

"Look, I don't like you and you don't like me. I don't want to do this thing anymore than you do. We both have our parts to play in this crazy topsy turvy world and you've just got to buck up and take it. I'm going to have my way with you, so you might as well work to make it pleasant. Understand?
You're a little slow, aren't you? I SAID YOU'RE A LITTLE SLOW! Never mind. It's not important."

"I know a bag has been removed from the bagging area. I have three 'helpful' children. For once they're actually trying to help. It's like a miracle, and there you are nagging. Here I am, feeding the multitudes and all you want to do is count the loaves of bread. The bag is back, okay? Jeez, relax."

"It's an apple. For crying out loud, I don't know it's social security number, its favorite color or its mother's maiden name. I'm not entering into a long term commitment here. It's not like I want to file the apple's taxes, I just like me some Fuji. You're going to stand between me and my apple? What the Fuji? The sign on the display said they're 1.59 a pound. You have the fancy scale, you figure it out. Why am I doing all the work here? Oh, that little number sticker on the side there? Um, yeah I guess I can type that in. Thanks ma'am. No, I didn't realize I was yelling."

"Look, there's a line queing up behind me now. Could you please hurry this up? No, I'm not the one that's going slow, you're the one with the deficient scanner. Yes. I said deficient. No I am not intimidated by your high tech gadgetry. I have oodles of experience as a counter jockey scanning purchases and making change. The trick was, I had a half hour of training and I could do a void without calling over the assistant manager every ten minutes. Oh and also I used to get paid to do this."

"I know a bag has been removed from the bagging area. I needed room for another bag because that one was full and I put it in my cart."

"Stop yelling at me. People are starting to stare. I just explained the bag thing and you're getting a little repetitive. You're kind of attention needy aren't you?"

"You know, cashiering was my back up plan. If money got tight, or I really needed to get out of the house; I always figured I could come back to a place like this and serve my time. You stole that from me didn't you? Now I'm stuck with my dream of running away and joining the carnival. If you don't scan this depilatory cream I may have to start my career as the bearded lady sooner than I planned."

"I know a bag has been removed from the bagging area. Fine. I put the overly full, about to tip over bag, back on the bagging area. Are you happy now?"

"I know it's a lot of produce. I wasn't expecting my special time here with you now was I? I like to eat healthy, are you going to try and ruin that for me too? Are you going to try and bully me into pre-packaged junk just because the bar codes are easier to find? Are you responsible for the nation's obesity problem?"

"No, I'm just saying you're a dark and twisted piece of machinery. I wouldn't put it past you. You know the little old lady three people back in the line is starting to look annoyed. Are you going to practice your dark arts on her too? That's somebody's mother for crying out loud."

"I know a bag has been removed from the bagging area. I've been trying to teach my groceries to levitate but they just haven't shown an aptitude yet."

"If the store is saving money not paying a cashier to ring up my groceries, and I'm doing all the work here, where is my pay off? Why don't I get a discount for cashiering and bagging my own order? Hey, and didn't that bag of sugar used to be bigger? Do you have a shrink ray too?"

"No, I'm totally serious. Stop laughing, you sound like a calculator with the hiccups. You need to get out in the real world more."

"Oh, yeah."

"I don't know with a dolly or a forklift? It's not my problem and it's beside the point."

"I know a bag has been removed from the bagging area. I am not trying to steal an entire bag of groceries. I promise, it's right there and I will pay for it if we ever finish this trial of endurance."

"You know the cashier is right there watching me. I guess I can accept the fact that you don't have any faith in my moral fortitude or character. You could at least show a little respect for cashier/theft prevention/helper lady and trust that she's doing her job. What happened to make you so cold and jaded?"

"It's so sick that she has to stand there watching you. Or does that give you more of a thrill? You do to grocery cashiers what ATMs did for bank tellers. What tornadoes do to trailer parks."

"Yeah? Well Fuji to you too!
Um, no. I didn't know I left a bag in the bagging area. Er, um, thanks."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The circle of my influences

Hard as it may be to imagine, my loquaciousness isn’t impervious to fatigue. There are times, when I need a respite from talking. All of it, even my twiddly little fingers on the keyboard, stop. When I come to this point of stillness, the sounds around me flood my senses. To tune out the chaos of three talkative and argumentative kids, I turn on the radio. What I hear disturbs me.

Mr. Sting of the Police has informed me; he is sending out an S.O.S.
I might have been interested in reading his little missive, had he not told me so many times. I think we would all do well to abandon him on his little island lest he torment anyone else with infinite repetition. I think even the sharks should refuse to gobble him. Chewing him would be like going over the same thing again and again, and there’s already been too much of that.

If AC/DC could just choose a current do you think they’d have to be back in black? I mean, it just takes a little planning of your voltage needs, really.

The band Boston says it’s more than a feeling. How much more? A strong hunch? Or is it a physical manifestation of something that was once a feeling but has now matured into something more painful like cramps?

And then there are the mysteries to ponder. I think Bob Marley may have in fact shot the deputy. Think about it. He has no qualms with admitting his crime; he gleefully admits he shot the sheriff. I get the sense he simply wants the confusion cleared up. I would posit that the sheriff had been demoted to deputy unbeknownst to Mr. Marley. Does anyone beside me care?

And do you think Paul Simon has a digital camera now or is he still tinkering with his kodachrome? Do you think him and Julio have kept in touch? I’m picturing Julio sitting on an olive green couch, rolling his eyes, waiting for Paul to load the carousel of his slide projector.

If Led Zeppelin tells me more than eight times, light of the love I have found, what does this convert to in wattage? Is that fluorescent? Is there a conversion chart for this? Fortunately, I think any love I have also has a dimmer function.

R.E.M is telling me that was just a dream. This seems a little obvious.

Fleetwood Mac (or is that Macs?) tell me, don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here. What happens if I do stop? Will the world implode?

An advertisement is featuring the claim that their service is unparalleled. Does this mean that none of their competitors can travel in a parallel fashion? Are we doomed to watch the various industries of our semi-successful capitalism travel in divergent or colliding paths? It seems hard to find a profit angle in that scheme, but maybe I’m just being obtuse.

Yeah, that’s right I’m hitting the geometry humor. You can’t stop me; I’m going to get all tautological with this mother. So, listening to the radio has taught me that being receptive is over-rated. And. . . .close.

Thank you and goodnight; you’ve been a wonderful audience.
Next show is at 11.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dear Adversity,

Why must you embarrass yourself like this? It’s obvious you keep trying, and yet consistently I laugh in your face. Ha. Like so.

You have made my long, winding, and steep driveway impassable to all but the most impressive of machines. Did you think I would wither away for want of groceries and the companionship of my peers? Aha, ha ha. I think not.

You have taken for granted just how hungry I am for friends. You’re also doing me the favor of shaving inches off my thighs and building muscle tone. As for the groceries, I may be the mother of invention as well as three children, because I have a sled. So there, take that.

I planned ahead for this ridiculous weather of yours. By the way, have you heard of a thing called over–kill? Sheesh, what are you compensating for? But I digress. I planned ahead for these storms. I stocked up on pellets for the wood pellet stove. It didn’t matter that the drive was already too slick to make it all the way up. These are mere details, inconveniences you throw before me that I easily step around, as I carry ten forty-pound bags of pellets up to my

Power outages? Please. We’ve been through that before. Remember the huge thunderstorm when you broke the gutter above the egress window; when the view from my girl’s room became a murky aquarium? I bailed out shoulder-high water, with a bucket, in the middle of the storm.
Not having any electricity for a shower or a hair dryer afterwards didn’t faze me then, why should losing heat in a blizzard freak me out?

I got all ingenious with my pesky dependence on heat to stay alive in a blizzard. I rigged up a marine boat battery with an inverter so I could run the pellet stove for two days. I splurged on a real generator in case the power went out for longer. I have to admit it, you almost got me with the stove malfunction. That was well played Adversity, well played indeed. If I’d been listening to Intuition I could have seen that one coming. It’s unnatural and evil to put too much technology and industry into an affair that is, at its heart, so simple.

Wood pellet stoves are stupid, stupid things. The fact that they require electricity to operate an auger to feed store bought pellets into a fire puts two things in between me and my heat. I should have known better. Wood pellet stoves are just a lie from when suburbanites got all warm and fuzzy for alternative heat as gas and oil prices rose. The fact that Businessman Bob can pour a bag of wood into the fire without changing out of his dress pants makes it obvious to whom they were marketing. The allure and magic of burning wood, without the chainsaw outdoorsy thing has your friend Deception’s name all over it. How’s he been lately? Do you guys still have that pick up basketball game on Thursdays?

Anyway, credit where it’s due. The stove was near genius. Especially that part where it seemed I’d figured out the problem, only to go and break it myself irreparably. I’ve learned my lesson. A simple woodstove will do fine in the future. No silly middlemen in between me and what I need. It doesn’t matter that I’m a small weakling with no upper body strength. I can fell a tree, chop, split and stack the wood with the sheer power of my will alone.

I know what all this effort is on your part. It’s so transparent. You only pay so much attention to me because you like me. Admit it. Like a little boy tugging the braids of the girl at the desk in front of him, you want me. I know, I’m nearly irresistible on a lot of levels. It might be the crazy curly hair (don’t think I don’t know you tighten these springy boingers each night); it might be the stretch marks and scars. It’s obvious that you and I have had more than a passing association. But that’s over now. I am simply not available and you just have to move on.

I don’t think a restraining order should be necessary. I think it’s clear I can defend myself against your advances. For that matter, you’d best not make me mad. I would recommend that you don’t cancel school again. If you do, the heat of my rage might melt all this snow. Oh, and don’t bother trying to get smart, breaking the rope on my sled. I have shoelaces, and I’m not afraid to use them.

Yours, (in a figurative sense only)

The hot chick with the can-do attitude

P.S. Tell Deception I like what he's been doing with my mirrors. I've never looked so good.

Monday, February 08, 2010

I would be remiss not to make mention of the view

It's like this. In every direction. For forever.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


So there's a combination of factors at work. The husband isn't around much these days and it seems to increase the tension when he is. It's both frustrating and interesting to hear someone else struggle with the kids. Today is the one day of the week when he was home. I think he had hoped that it would be the funnest day ever, to make up for lost time and he forgot that it just doesn't work that way. You can't play catch up with kids, you can't pick up where you left off. We went snow tubing in the morning, which was fun but was plagued with the little technicalities and problems always associated with coordinating three kids to go in the same direction at any one time. Then there was the time at home. I just haven't been in the right place to write or paint this week and thought the time would be better spent cleaning out the studio.

I sorted through three boxes of paperwork. Half finished short stories, rough drafts, poems -I have a stock pile of ideas to sift through and on top of that all my collected essays and readings on the place of women in society, economic anthropology, and the politics of gender. Damn I miss school.

I miss teachers telling me I'm brilliant. I miss pages and pages of my own notes that make sense and don't containing shopping lists. I miss that feeling, like I was on the cusp of some new idea or understanding. In a practical sense I know that I can accomplish a lot on my own I just have to be disciplined about it. I know an MFA in writing is worth about as much as the paper it's written on, but oh, the temptation. I think writing and striving with an audience simply feels different. Not so dependent on the dips and swells of my ego's tide. Where I am now I feel a little bit like a hamster in a wheel. I don't know if any of my efforts will ever amount to anything but I keep scurrying away. Tuition seems like a lot to pay just to have someone pat me on the back and tell me I'm going in the right direction though. Ah, well. It is what it is. These are the mommy blues in all the varying shades.
Maybe I can take one class, either writing or painting in the spring. or go to a conference or a seminar.

Like a reflex, as my writing dries up, the ideas of images for paintings start flooding my brain. Weather and time depending I should have new items in the shop soon. We'll see. . . .