Tuesday, November 5, 2013

just a quick moment in time

slowly and surely wins the race...
Good November to you all :-)

I am sitting here with a view of the pond, the White Queen on t.v., a pile of tissues at my side, and a storm on the horizon. I've been keeping myself busy, and now there is a payback in the form of allergies. As my father-in-law is currently recovering from a surgery, I am confident that I could have a worse cross to bear!

The image at left is one of the embellished pointe shoes I am working on, as part of a fundraiser for Ballet Royale and the Twin Cities Ballet. Although I designed the shoe,  I am here to tell you I wish someone else had. Someone else who knows something about.....just how much work it is to sew jewels to a ballet slipper!! Also, someone who knows when enough-is-enough for the glue gun! 

I am happy to post the original design, as it may elicit sympathy for my headfirst plunge  into the idiocy of glue-guns before needles! I'd hoped to have the shoe complete by mid-September, but oh, the best-laid plans of mice and men.... and me. The shoe pictured above is finally ready for forming and stiffening (and if ANYONE out there runs across this post and knows of such things, please feel free to send a comment!) 

In other words, I am not a fabric artist. I never have been, and I have nothing but sympathy and respect for anyone who is!

Typing even this little has taken it out of me, but I think the first snow of the year may recharge my spirits, maybe even my energy? Hopefully I will reappear here more frequently with project updates. The shoes will hopefully be done and out of the house by the end of the week......i wish. I wish. I wish.

There. Third time's the charm.

Off to....whatever it is I am meant to be doing next. Rehydrating and tidying up my sadly scruffy kitchen. Anything accomplished after that is purely a bonus :-)

Happy fall, stay safe if the storm is coming at you as well, and enjoy your week.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Whirlwind

And I don't think I'm the only one.

Good afternoon, friends, it's been a long while. Hot days, educational wins, parenting fails, neighborhood fireworks, dog chaos, garden chaos....you know.....summer.

Being a bit south of the Twin Cities, we've managed some EPIC rainfalls, smokin' hot days, and dangerous heat indexes. Commensurately, our cucumbers (as well as most herbs) have had explosive growth, the tomato leaves are so thick the fruit can't ripen, and there's been a stretch of days the kids were inside because of...... too damn hot.

In between this, I've overscheduled the kids on summer 'camps', we've been eating more salad, but have done much less cooking. And now we've passed midsummer. Both kids now eat bread with olive oil, but now that it's not too hot to bake it, it's too cool to rise...

Artistically, there are a few wins. I've taken some tiny steps forward on the big project (it has domain names now!) and I'm taking more time to sketch designs and ideas, and solidify product lines. I've also had some small - perhaps teeny - talk about marketing work. Happily, the marketing work would be something I have complete aesthetic harmony with, so that's alright. Might get right in the way of the project, or, conversely, impel me to jump-start it though, so....yeah. Nice pinch of serendipity to go right along with the "WTH?"

Writing? Six mini-short stories complete (first draft), and at least 2 more at the halfway mark. And, being that they are MINI-shorts, I thought an introduction might be good so I wrote one of them too. When we are past 'draft', it's possible I can start feeling ok about posting some here and there. The short stories correlate to the artwork project, (at right is the background of a multi-layered image in progress. SLOW progress) so I am investigating publishing options for them - Somerset Reader may be one, unless that publication went on hiatus ;-)

Really, that's some of it. Most of it, for now. Time is flying, so I must flap to catch up. There is something funky in the air and I really could use a moment to grab it with two hands and hang on for the ride.

I'm off to get that moment now :-)

Take care, and treasure the rest of your summer days. I'll be checking in more frequently again, there is rather a lot of interesting going on right now ;-)

Enjoy the good weather while it lasts!!


Friday, May 31, 2013

Metamorphosis....an update......and a story...

That's what this spring season is about, isn't it?

Catepillars into butterflies, heat into rain, dirt into weeds, puppies into dogs, schoolchildren into....little energetic tornadoes?

Dabblers into Artists. Artists into Mamas. Houses into HomeBase!

Summer is coming reluctantly. I was awake an hour this morning before it.....dawned on me (SORRY!) that the sun was Still. Out. We've had rain, drizzle, storms, more rain. Buckets of humidity, wind. Today, for awhile, there will be sun.

What comes with such rain? Naughty, chewing, unexercised puppies (since no one wants to be outside, not even the dog) weeds (since no one wants to be outside in the mud), and schedule-creep - thoroughly unchecked.

Everything is off.

With everything unbalanced, unfettered (except the dog. She complains loudly about her fetters) and a little askew, why, what a perfect time for me to ramp up efforts on the portfolio/business work!

A story-snippet was posted in March(maybe? April?) about the wizard Hrothbart and his daughter - above is the first painting-sketch to come of it. I finished the first draft of the story (it's a mini-short) and need to develop the painting a bit further, but it's a nice start.

I also attended a meeting with Ladies who Lead - Twin Cities meeting last night. It's a networking group for local business women.

It is NOT sitting around, pounding cocktails, and moaning about work-life balance.

It IS sitting around, sipping/nibbling whatever while making relevant contacts and connections, cheering on each others progress, and meeting women at different stages in their business life with a lot to share, and the generosity to do so. And learning :-) I had fun, learned a lot, and made several contacts (and some new friends!!) that should help me with some roadblocks I am encountering. I had two goals in attending and I surpassed both of them - It's worth noting that one of my nieces is a member, and I only heard about this group through HER facebook page! That for my tendancy to disparage FB on a routine basis for being time-wasting - my time was used well last night :-)

Armed with my contacts from last night -(including SCORE - free small business advice, no idea why I didn't run across them before!!!) today will be a 'git 'r done' kind of day. I need to do birthday-party shopping, dog walking/training, send a few notes to the women who shared their time with me last night, more garden planning, and a bit of catch up on laundry - we were lucky to have visitors last friday night and I've been guilty of laundry-slacking ways since then! The dog also needs a vet visit, the kids need appointments to be made, and I am pretty sure I have to call the folks doing our tree replacement - we are not the only ones complaining about the bad winter. Our tree up-and-DIED in protest!

Speaking of protest, below is the follow up story to the snippet on Hrothbart (our owl above). The point of view is his daughter Odile. She is the antagonist in Swan Lake (or, Black Swan, if you take your ballet in movie doses rather than live events :-) and is birdlike. Birdish. And Not a Nice Person. In this snippet, she is kvetching about her position in life, her father, and her sense of self importance, right after she sent her father out to find her dinner.


Odile - Talon Phase


The great Rothbart, sliding out the door of our - well, hovel, really - like a wounded cat.
Not the heroic, owlish mage. Not what he'd have you think years ago. But claim him as sire I must, for all the good it brings. Decades ago, maybe, I'd still been able to trade on that fierce name, coquetting out from that broad wing like the tender chick I never was.

Feared, certainly. Envied? Perhaps.

But we had racks of meat to spare.

Now, no more than a scavenging rook, he heads out and back through the woods like a homing pigeon. Rat - or a brace of frozen voles - clutched in his clawed and shrinking grasp. Offering the lowest stock to me - the summit of his glory. How he dares this insult, I'll never know. Trapped with me daily, the gods only know why he is free at night,  while I am tethered to the floor, but I'll winkle out the secret soon. My father is not the only creature who may come and go at night - the eyes I may borrow are legion.

And to the last, they are red as blood.


There. A spoiled chick, complaining about her parent. An unhappy fairy-tale beginning for an uncertain end. May you all go about your day with better grace and at least a bit more joy :-)

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In the Weeds

The great garden overhaul is gearing up!!!

Mother's Day weekend brought us to the nursery to pick out plants and flowers and seeds. This weekend, I expect some serious raised-bed building and soil prep. This weekend we are also graced with, hm, a ballet recital, soccer practice, scouts, dog school, and a visit from my mother.

Hence, the usage of 'in the weeds'.

Also, view the plot. Everything except the happy dark green chives at left are WEEDS. Smothering and yanking will be the plan, then cover the plot with newspapers and set up them raised beds (4, in fact), fill 'em with dirt, and let the great veggie adventure begin!

But wait, there's more.

We have flagstone 'mini paths' coming off the porch, and they look a little.....


So, there is spiced-orange thyme and irish moss waiting to get installed between/amongst them.
Peonies and hydrangeas are supposedly on their way up, but that will only happen if the dog stops trying to eat them. Which couldn't happen any quicker, our beloved shepherd doesn't BELIEVE me when I tell her those naughty peonies are POISONOUS!

Speaking of the naughty shephard, she is one reason this blog is as neglected as the garden.

She has given herself a tummy bug so I am now cooking home meals more for her than the rest of my family! We get take out, the dog gets pumpkin-and-rice with boiled chicken or ground beef mixed in. There is something wrong with that picture..... 

Anyway, we are Mid-May and hopefully had the last snow day of the year LAST WEEK, so we should be able to plant soon. We hope.

In the meantime, I hope your spring is a sunny one, your days are good ones, and your pets let you get a goodnights sleep.

It makes more difference than you think.

have a beautiful week!!!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

update, quick and dirty. Literally.

I am heavily considering mud.

We've broken most of the snow - snow - damned snow - records, for April.

The garden plot thickens. Ash, clay laden mud. Snow. Rabbit dung.

The German Shepard will likely address that whole 'vole' and 'rabbit' issue. This summer may be the year my children are officially horrified educated by mother nature. A necessary sadness, at some point. Probably the point where I am saying well, at least it isn't your cats.

I have little in the way of cultural notes. Neko Case "That's What I Am" and "Give Me Something to Remember" are new finds, but, I think, a year old or so each. The "Hunger Games" movie resonates with me quite strongly - I don't know if it's just Jennifer Lawrence doing a brilliant job, or my unease with culture lately, but it strikes very close to home for me. I've seen most of it at least three times, and while I would NOT recommend it for young viewers, I certainly intend to read it.

I have real issues with culture right now.

Because i have a goal of spreading light, not darkness. Positivity, rather than negativity, I have to consider seriously what is on my mind for a later post. But for transparency, I can flat out state I am disgusted. A layer of naivete may be to blame, but I am heartsick at some of what is hitting the news. Most of what is hitting the news.

I am not writing right now. The last poem I wrote was addressing reality TV. "Hunger Games" does a fair job of addressing what I was too incensed to write convincingly. Subtly. But it doesn't go as far. And the lower I feel pushed by what 'passes' for culture, Popular culture, especially, I am pushed to question, over and over, "who raised these children".

Raising my own - falling short of my marks, and setting new ones - occupies my time as much as the new dog. That leaves little room for reflection. As....adrift as I am, as a result, more pointed posts are to come. Just not now.

But if you are feeling unease, unquiet, well, you certainly are in sympathetic company.

The weekend draws near.

Pull the plug as much as humanly possible this weekend. It's like a warm cozy bath for your mind, and heart

Good night,


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Going to the Dogs

My life is rather upside down right now.... I have been away for a spell, as instead of free time, I now have a Zelda.

In January, my mother said farewell to Minnesota, and left me her lovely male Maltese-Terrier mix to watch, until she could send for him . His name is Bailey.

Bailey is a lovely, affectionate, funny, twelve-pound fluffball with limitless curiosity (esp. regarding cat-bottoms) and limited common sense. My 40-odd pounds of brother-and-sister-cats have limitless spite, and limited tolerance for bottom-sniffers.

This unhappy equilibrium came to a head in February, when Bailey got too friendly with the cat bottoms in a closed space, and brought my cats mounting aggressions to a bloody climax. Twelve pounds of fluff is no match for 40 pounds of tag-team, outraged hissy fit with claws, and both Bailey and I ended up seeing a doctor that night. Both of us got heavy-duty antibiotics - which went nicely with my guilt trip, as my five bites helped me imagine the poor guys pain.

The cats?

Not a scratch on them.

The Brawl (as it is now referred to) hastened my mother's efforts to get her boy back home (she succeeded wildly, the dog flew first-class to AZ and now has more fans than I do). This meant that my husband and I had to keep our promise to let our kids get a Dog of Their Own.

For one reason and another, we are now the proud parents of Zelda Emerson Von Sable Rock. German Shepard-Piranha mix, extroardinaire. She is cute, funny, affectionate, and has a somewhat consistent herding instinct. I can't say much for her taste in food, but I will say that when the weather behaves (unlike today. Sleet/snow mix. In April, folks) she gets a bit of exercise and is pretty well behaved.

When the weather misbehaves, so does Zelda.

Consequently, today we are thinking that Sunday puppy-school can't come fast enough.

Regular blogging may be on hiatus, but if I can recover my energy sometime soon, I'll post pics of the little menace.

With that, stay warm, stay safe, and do little somethings for strangers. Bought a starbucks for the gal in the minivan behind me today and drove off giggling - it felt terrific.  This week, we can all use some of that.

Take care,


Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Happy Day

Good Morning!

Sogginess abounds here, as the 10 inches of snow is starting to melt away. Since I've started thinking out my veggie garden and started bulbs for paperwhites, so I am not so sad to see my snowflakes go.

It's my husband's birthday.

Jon is beyond dedicated, he is bright enough to warm our hands on. His love of family is our rock. End of story.

Tonight we are going to see Gaelic Storm play St. Paul, along with our son and his cousin, our godson. Tomorrow, we celebrate all our March birthdays in his family together - it's a great way to honor our family relationships and celebrate together :-) And, I get to 'think spring' in putting together a salad for tomorrow's meal, so I am going to enjoy tearing through springy-veggie ideas (although, I honestly feel like just roasting up a ton of fingerling potatoes, seasoned with olive oil, s&p, fresh parseley, garlic, and rosemary. I know it's not a salad, but dang it's good!!!!!)

Last night, another story idea came to me just as I was falling asleep. I wrote it out this morning and it is rough, but mostly complete. And it is a good feeling to have a third story finished, start to finish, for my mixed-concept project. That's another happy note for the weekend.

Our nephew is staying with us tonight, so I have some more tidying up to do, and ensure we have breakfast lined up, as tomorrow will be sleepy for all of us. Off I go, but I wish you a beautiful spring to come, and a lovely weekend besides.

Onward, my friends :-)


Sunday, February 17, 2013


The world works in mysterious ways.

It's funny to me when people discuss the dark nights of winter. In Minnesota, generally, we have enough snow cover, and a good chance of minute ice crystals in the air, that any light we do have gets bounced around like crazy.

Light "pollution" from above And below.

I meant to have the office done by tomorrow. I dug into it pretty well initially, and then a good-sized chunk of life dug into my week. And I re-remembered some useful lessons in humility that set my perspective back to "real time".

About as real as it can get.

By "humility" I mean a real sense of scale, where self importance is concerned. And vanity, and time, more than anything else.

A movie I am getting (ahem. Somewhat) obsessed with is "Into Great Silence". It's a documentary on the monks of the Grand Chartruese (Carthusians, to put it another way.) Director Philip Groning shot there for 6 months -after waiting 16 years for permission to do so. Fitting, as his initial idea was to make a documentary about time, and it's passage. Ironically for me, minutes lately take on a persistent and speaking importance, whereas a trait Groning had picked up on was the fearlessness of the monks - the sense that whatever the morning brought was to be embraced or, perhaps, accepted calmly as part of Gods way, maybe. I could be paraphrasing badly, here.

Sometimes, the sense of knowing we are small is a relief, other times a pressure-point. Right now, strive for fearlessness though I might, I am feeling the pressure of the worth of my minutes. Well spent, and poorly, alike.

Were I to total them up, I am afraid I would find too many spent on myself, compared with what I have devoted to others. Not a bad way to motivate my tomorrow, but utterly useless to redeem the past. Still, nice to know that such personal mortification may have a useful role. I do not think I am  going all drama-queen here either, by the way. We all know what our self-indulgences are, and mine is so very precious.

Perfect, isolate, moments of hoarded time.

Maybe one role for humility comes at a small price of shame.

I'm not awake enough to pursue this twisty thought train much further. I'll put my awareness of weakness to work, to feel comfortable with how my time is spent. It comes from a bank with no insurance, after all.

And there's no way possible to pay it back.

So here I go, off again, to strive once more to use time wisely. If time comes at a cost, and humility is the debt, at least the striving can make headway in the ledger :-)

Good night, sparkly, snowy world.

Give yourself a glittering tomorrow, filled with cherished time.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Mr. Insomnia, This Had Better Be Good

Good, well, early, morning to you all.

Here at 'freezing-yourt-tushie-off', Minnesota, I have cleared the last figurative hurdle in beating down a four-day pesky head-cold/brutal allergies session. And am sipping french roast while laptop-gazing and noting the occasional snowplow lights. And am pondering how much french roast will be needed to get me through the day.

I usually get allergies when highly stressed/not getting enough sleep. Even if nothing else should come of it, I am surely setting myself up for an interesting Tuesday!

The problem with getting up (coughing) unexpectedly is that the new project on my brain presents too many things to think about. Challenges that need to be looked at down the road, but that may be that I am just focusing on those challenges because they are less immediate than my daily challenges. Basic ones - nutrition for the kids (she still doesn't like many foods), exercise (my son needs like 2 more hours of it Every Day), basic discipline and routines. Mommy stuff (well, This mommy, anyway.)

The kicker is that when my son can't sleep, I tell him to think about Fun things. Plan out fun projects. Pretend you're fishing with Uncle Jeff and you caught a whopper!! When I try the same thing, it turns into a to-do list.

So, this is what I came up with:
 - make coffee (obviously. done)
 - follow another link or two from The Paris Apartment, or another French-themed blog (inspiration)
 - Plan today's meals (maybe use some of that inspiration)
 - greet my husband with a real breakfast
 - see which of the kids still has a fever, then feed Them their breakfast
 - drink the other half of the coffee pot.
 - work on the office as planned. The goal is to make it more usable by next Monday for filing and painting the project pieces. By way of explanation, I should say that not even my daughter can sneak in there without tripping or getting stuck, and she has the tiniest feet in the house!! To be fair, there IS a dog kennel in the middle of the floor ;-) And a cute dog that sleeps in there at night.

So, there you have it. A plan.

Not much of a plan, I grant you. But it should take me through the next 5 hours or so.




Are you kidding me?



(sighs. shakes head)


Gonna be a long day indeed......

Make it a good one!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Bubbling over, to be honest.

And that isn't Always a good thing. Think pasta pots and stovetops. Think wasting a third of a bottle of tasty prosecco if/when I stumble before opening it, and two shakes of a good bottle later, you have less than you'd wanted.

But right now, it is a good thing. My brain is thoroughly a-bubble and it's been productive (not something I can usually say.

My two short stories have feedback trickling in from a few generous beta readers (THANK YOU LADIES!!) and I am putting together checklists and action items to keep things moving forward.

WHAT The heck for?

I am putting together a mixed-media portfolio of sorts, including assemblage/collage art. When the portfolio is complete, there are several different options I am considering for product development. And I do have a specific idea of what this will entail, but until I can pound out a business plan, it doesn't bear mentioning here. Happily, the web is full of HIGHLY encouraging resources.

As with writing, business doesn't get anywhere if you give up. Because of my blessed situation at home with the kids, it is to my benefit to pace myself and keep our world calm and stable. If I charge into something, I will burn myself out, and then EVERYthing will suffer. And I won't stick to my plan.

In practical, real world terms, I am going to be drawing and painting more, brushing up my business correspondence skills, and trying to do everything More efficiently at home, so there is MORE time for my loves and for my art. I am digging into research (so far I have about 25 pages of notes and pictures) and following up with practical resources online. As things unroll, I will post visuals here, so you can see the busyness pay off. I will leave you with a scrap of story number three (actually, it's the entirety of #3 so far, but it is fun :-) and there will be more.


Paternal Duty, Discharged

My daughter sends me out, a withering glance heavy as a shove across my shoulders. I shrug them into the feathered cape, while she nods twice. Abruptly. Tilts eyes sidewise and looks down her nose. Says to my back, almost out the door, "Don't think of coming back without meat tonight. I don't care whose. Even if it takes you till morning." 

I half turn, and bow low to her. She, my only child.

"Bonne nuit, ma chère fille. Bonne nuit."


There you have it. Lucky number three.

Have a lovely, productive day :-) I'll check back in next week, and let you know if I've already fallen into a self-dug pit. At least, if I do, i think it will be a pretty one!!

thanks again for coming by!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

very quickly, mini-news at the orchid house

Hello lovely strangers!

 I am only posting in quickly to say that I have hit a strange burst of creativity and have written two short stories this week, and started the seeds of a third. They are MINI stories - damn near 'flash fiction' and are thematically linked.

They are part of my 'multiple media' project I am burbling away on, and it's an exciting feeling to, um, Finish Two Stories.

I sent them off to the appropriate audience (er, I hope) for beta-reads, and should have some feedback. My readers are at varying levels of maturity and proficiency so I should get a nice cross-section of viewpoints.

Little bitty victories, but victories nonetheless.

I'd hoped for some quiet time with my husband tonight, instead we have a very Awake little boy. If I want to be Half as alert in the morning, it would behoove me to hop upstairs and see if everyone finally made it to sleep. Quiet time will have to wait for.....another quiet moment in the orchid house, I guess.

oh well.

I'll let the thrill of creativity surf me through tomorrow, and hope that can fire me up for less imaginative, but more important, parts of the real day. It's likely I will get a few 'Huh?'s", and perhaps a few...."hmmmms", for feedback,  and that's okay.

if I don't put it out there, I won't know what I have. And if I don't figure that out, it doesn't have legs.

And I'd rather hear that from people who presumably like me than complete strangers!

So, off to the next tomorrow.

Sweet, creative, and not-remotely-singed-dreams to you all ;-)


Friday, January 25, 2013

Back to our new normal

Good morning, friends -

Those are snowflakes, not spots of white dirt on my window...

I have a few minutes here to point out that good old fashioned winter days still hit the midwest. It is snowing huge fluffy flakes, we've had a week of murderously cold temps (-30F wind chills. Mars is colder. Manitoba, too.) and we've all been pining for a break in the chill so we can go out and play.

When we can't go out and play, we get crabby and bored.

I am never a fan of crabby, but bored has it's upside ;-) I'm not technically ever bored, but if I get in a rut, the creative mode refills and, boy howdy, I get a headfull.

Basically, I have written 2 and a half short stories that came about via some visual research. I have an interest in developing decorative papers, and they ballooned into story lines :-)

Very short, sweet, and a bit funny, so now I don't know what color this kettle of fish is (a book? a multimedia book? a Digital multimedia book?) but it's keeping my brain busy. Happily, I discovered evernote - a management program that can save images, notes, webpages, websnippets, links, and contacts each into it's own 'notebook'. So, that's coming in handy!

I have a fresh pot of energy (seriously, not, today, a euphamism for coffee) so I am going to drink a big glass of water, exercise for a bit, and then get the day rolling. By the end of the day, I have more inspirations and I collect them in each notebook as the kid fall asleep. (I sit in a rocking chair, between the rooms at night by the lamp so each can see me if they need to). And then I spend the next day trying not to daydream. If this becomes more concrete, it will be fun to post the stories for you, but in the meantime, an orchid house update:

every routine shot to hell ;-)

most of us cleared of winter colds

orchids FINALLY budding, after years of waiting (feeding plants weekly. Who. Knew.???)
Orchid buds and snowflakes. January. Minnesota.

officially daydreaming about the spring gardening

volunteering at school (sometimes 3x per week) and I must be doing ok, no one has thrown me out yet.

That's all I can ask for, really.

I hope your winter is treating you kindly, and that you are safe and warm :-) Happy winter dreams to you all!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This little light of mine....

Ah, at last.

Weeks late.

But, I did say I would post a picture of an ice lantern.

That was right before our spring thaw.

Which was followed by something like -22 C.

So, not ideal ice lantern weather.

There are two, courtesy of some mostly-useful cheap thriftstore buckets.

I was left with lumps of ice that were quite pretty (from weighing down the interior cup for the candle cavity), but I couldn't come up with a use for them. Watering the plants, I guess.

Anyway, they seem to work better than the half-orb bowls I did last month, they block a bit of the wind.

Minnesota winters are, in general, breezy.

We'll be going up and down the thermometer in the next two weeks, so whatever melts one day will be utterly dangerous all over the sidewalk the next.

Alright, back to the mayhem. More than usual (tame mayhem, by most standards. But mayhem and frazzle inducing nonetheless.) Among other things, I am sincerely wondering if I am smart enough to keep ahead of my kid.

Oh well, a bit of worry is as good as caffeine when you need to get something done :-)

Good night.
Stay warm.

Shed a little light.

The world seems to need it right now :-)