Thursday, June 28, 2007



When are they gonna lead these guys away in handcuffs? What more do they have to do?

Cheney: Office not part of the executive branch - from

White House blocks subpoenas over fired prosecutors - from Reuters

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007


An Opportunity Missed

My sewing machine is in for repair. It's a Kenmore and I bought it in 1995, if I remember correctly. My zigzag stitch decided to quit working, which definitely warranted the repair. I can't stand the idea of replacing an item if there's only a little something wrong. Kenmore is handled by Sears, so I took it in. They told me that the person doing the repairs would call ahead and let me know how much it would cost so I could decide whether it was worth it. The repairman called me and told me that the machine needed a good cleaning and that a small part unrelated to the zigzag needed to be replaced. Then he scolded me for using a metal bobbin, rather than the plastic ones that came with the machine.

This is a man who doesn't understand how sewing machines are really used. Most fiber artists have owned more than one sewing machine in their lives and the old bobbins tend to migrate to the new machine. You can never have too many bobbins. It should be noted that I have never had a problem with the metal bobbins, although I once bought new plastic ones (you can never have too many bobbins) and they didn't fit. So much for doing what the manufacturer recommends.

Kenmore and other sewing machine manufacturers are missing a great opportunity here. When machines come in for repair, if they pay attention to how people really use them, they could design their machines around our use, rather than what's convenient for them. Knowing that bobbins migrate between machines might give them the idea that they should build their machines for either metal or plastic bobbins. They could also make bobbins standard between different brands of machines.

Here's something else that repairman could have noticed. I put a piece of tape across the sewing surface to mark a 2-inch seam. Machines don't mark for seams wider than an inch. Well, sometimes I need a seam that's wider than an inch and there's definitely room on the machine to mark wider seams, so why don't sewing machine manufacturer's do it? I'll bet that when I get the machine back, the repair guy took off my piece of tape.

Now, if they'd just call to tell me it's done. I believe it was supposed to be done last week, but no call yet.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


PC World's Top 100 Blogs

PC World published their top 100 blogs list yesterday. Officially, it's called "100 Blogs We Love." There are many of the usual suspects on the list - BoingBoing, Slashdot, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Wonkette, Seth Godin's blog, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, 43 Folders, etc. etc. I almost hate to list them because they get so much attention. For you early bloggers out there, the reality sets in quickly that blog ranking seems to be pretty fixed. Unless you do some serious marketing, your blog is not going to reach Technorati's top 100, or anyone else's, because people are creatures of habit. Most of them will go to the big blogs, the ones with millions or thousands of readers and they're going to stay there for quite some time. Those big blogs don't ever seem to lose rank, unless they're just jockeying around on the list a few spots. The earliest bloggers had an open field and thus could cement their rankings as long as their writing was decent. Well, there are quite a number of well-written lesser known blogs, and I'd like to see them get some recognition. I'm going to try to create my own top 100 list of blogs. I have a few already on my list, which I'll post later. In the meantime, feel free to suggest blogs that you read that don't get much airplay.

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The Illustrious Maddy Gaiman

Ms. Maddy Gaiman, daughter of author Neil Gaiman, is guest hosting her father's journal/blog. She's simply delightful, articulate and all-out charming. There's no telling how long she'll be filling in, so I'm recommending that you bop on over and check out her world view before she turns the whole thing back over to her dad.

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Monday, June 25, 2007


Let's Get Physical

It's a landmark birth year for me, so I scheduled a physical, which I had today. There are always those terribly uncomfortable bits to physicals - the poking, the prodding, the checking of orifices, the drawing of blood. I find that it helps to get through the process with a minimum of discomfort by being of very scientific mind about the whole thing. Sort of mentally removing myself from the process by thinking, what am I going to learn today about this here specimen? I learned today that my delicate bone structure means that my shoulder muscles aren't very sturdy, which is why they tend to get sore easily. The doctor gave me some strengthening exercises to do. I also learned that if you are well hydrated, it's much easier for the lab tech drawing blood to find a vein. I always thought I had hard-to-find veins because most of the times I've had blood draws I was dehydrated from morning sickness. Now I know better. I'm pretty much ship-shape, thankfully, but still have a mammogram to go through at the end of the week. Then I'll be good to go.

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Sibling Memory

It's great to have siblings. They help jog family memory. I talked to one of my brothers last night and he helped me to recall something I had completely forgotten. One of my goals in life is to write a song. It doesn't necessarily have to be the greatest song in the world, mind you. I simply want to figure out how to put words to music. My brother reminded me that I have already been involved with songwriting. He and I co-wrote a song called "Runaway" as kids, which we performed for our parents. My brother said they laughed at us. Gee, I wonder why I have an issue with my musicality. Very cool about the song, though, and once he mentioned it, I do vaguely recall having worked on it. I know we repeated the word 'runaway' in the chorus, but that's all I've got.

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That's Soooo 2000

I've got my new issue of Wired magazine, working my way through it cover-to-cover. That doesn't mean I'm necessarily reading every little thing, but I like to work front-to-back so I don't miss something. The cover image/article is of Transformers - as in the "more than meets the eye" type. I didn't get into these as a kid, so haven't read the article yet. My son went right to it, though - first thing read. I was more interested in the the mapping article "The Whole Earth, Cataloged: How Google Maps is changing the way we see the world" by Evan Ratliff and "Dispatches From the Hyperlocal Future" by Bruce Sterling.

Wired is relentlessly future-seeking, which makes me breathless and frustrated. Can't keep up! Can't . . . keeeeeep. . . up! Part of what makes me feel this way is how Wired's articles talk about what happened a mere seven years ago as if it was ancient history. For example, did you know that the Captcha (those squiggly letters/numbers that you have to type in periodically when doing web work in order to foil spambots) was invented by Luis von Ahn in 2000? Luis von Ahn has moved on to figuring out how to teach computers how to recognize beauty. (See the article "The Human Advantage" by Clive Thompson.) Seems like the Captcha has been around a while, but seven years is nothing in human history. Of course, this notion of three, five, seven years ago being ancient history is not Wired's fault. It's the nature of technology that is warping our sense of time. Wired simply reflects that. (What does irritate me about Wired is its habit of amplifying how incredibly backwards people are if they don't keep up or don't know what every abbreviation means. Where is their online glossary when you need one?)

What astounds me is that human creativity in general has ramped up to that same dizzying speed as technology. Think about how many books are produced per year now as opposed to in the 1800s. The classics from the 1800s are classics because they didn't have as much competition. We have thousands of Ansel Adams, what with digital photography, millions of publishers with blogging (although a good share of those aren't worth the 0's and 1's they're written with), and how many gazillions of movie producers with YouTube. There is simply no way the human mind - a single human mind - can track everything. We simply have to do our best and forget the rest.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007


Hans Blix & the Weapons Inspectors

Yesterday we spent the day at a community festival. I was most interested in seeing a particular attraction - a fiddle contest to be accompanied by a blue grass band called Hans Blix and the Weapons Inspectors. Other than loving blue grass, what attracted me was the name of the band. When Hans Blix was forever in the news prior to the Iraq War, I'd hear his name and run around saying, "Hans Blix! Hans Blix!" several times. It's such a happy, fairy tale-esque name. So, of course, I had to go see this band. Turns out I knew one of the members and had glancing acquaintance with a couple of the others. They did a fabulous job and the fiddle contest was a treat. We skipped out on the very end, the announcing of the winners, so we could get a little fresh air (it was roasting under the tent) and hook up with our kids.

Later in the day we caught the fireworks display. Watching all the smoke drift off from the exploded fireworks makes me wonder if it contributes in any way to our weather. That's a lot of particulate matter being thrown into the air just from one display. Imagine the accumulated amounts from displays all over the world.

For your curiosity - here's a link to a photo of the real Hans Blix.

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Friday night we got word that my niece was having surgery, pretty much with no advance warning. Her brother sent an instant message to our daughter saying that she was having her appendix removed. The previous weekend our niece had returned from her father's with a giant stomachache. She was in tears and couldn't get comfortable. Her mom said she hadn't been feeling well the previous week, but had perked up some toward the end of the week. We were all thinking that she had a stomach bug that was exacerbated by the anticipation our niece felt over taking her written driving test. She took the test and passed, which is quite the achievement considering what we now know about the situation. She had her surgery Friday night and we got word Saturday morning that she was doing fine. We are immensely relieved and wish her a speedy return to good health.

Her situation reminds me of my brother, who is the only other person I know who's had an appendectomy. He, too, had been feeling ill, but no one thought much of it. During his illness, we went sledding and he hit a tree with his back. Within a few days he was having surgery. When the doctor opened him up, he found that his appendix had burst and abscessed, probably as a result of hitting that tree. Normally, the appendix is only as big as the tip of a pinky, but his was the size of a breakfast sausage. If the abscess would have burst, he would not have survived. Scary how something so serious can be so easily missed, or brushed off. Happy, in both situations, that it was caught in time.

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Friday, June 22, 2007


A Couple of Quotes

A couple of quotations from The Quotations Page:

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

So you see, imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering. - Brenda Ueland

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Thursday, June 21, 2007


A Birthday Meme

Kim at Knit Whimsies tagged me with another meme. This one is a birthday meme. To fulfill the meme, you go to Wikipedia and type in your birth month and day and list, on your blog (if you have one) or in the comments (if you don't), three events that happened on your birthday, two people born that day (besides you!), and one holiday celebrated that day.

My answers are below, but first I'm tagging O.W., A.K., Rianna (all without blogs), Reeva Dubois and Kevin at Copyrightings, although he might be on vacation.

On my birthday, October 11 -

Events: (Yes, I can count. I added a fourth.)

1582 - Due to the implementation of the Gregorian calendar, this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

1809 - Along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee, explorer Meriwether Lewis dies under mysterious circumstances at an inn called Grinder's Stand.

1899 - Second Boer War begins: In South Africa, a war between the United Kingdom and the Boers of the Transvaal and Orange Free State erupts.

1987 - March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights attracts an estimated 200,000 people to protest the Bowers v. Hardwick decision and the U.S. government's handling of the AIDSNAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

People born on October 11:

1884 - Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States (d. 1962)

1926 - Thich Nhat Hanh, religious leader

There were no holidays listed on Wikipedia for my birthday, however, I can tell you that sometimes Columbus Day falls on my birthday and I believe it is also National Coming Out Day.

What a fun meme!

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The Middle Lane Is Key

I did something to day that I was terrified to do. I live in rural Minnesota and while I've driven around St. Cloud and Duluth with very little trouble, I have never driven in the Twin Cities - period (as in not even with another person navigating to tell me where to go). I had a meeting in St. Paul today and had no one available to drive. Hubby, who normally does the driving, was in school, so I was on my own. I wanted to lick this little oversight (and big terror), so I was determined to figure out a route I'd remember. I checked out MapQuest and Google Maps. (A little hint: MapQuest gives more complete directions.) I looked at a road map and I went to MNDOT's website that shows road construction and traffic conditions in Minnesota. It's a cool site, showing up-to-the-minute webcam shots of traffic. I went over the maps and instructions a gazillion times and kept picturing myself doing this successfully. I also pictured myself crashing, being run off the road, and getting lost, but tried to shove these thoughts out of my mind. I did have a brief meltdown/panic attack in anticipation of my upcoming task. I got over it.

When I entered the Twin Cities, I was able to follow my route all the way to my destination with no problems whatsoever. The middle lane was the key. When the highway split into two routes, the middle lane is the one that goes either way, so there's no last minute swerve over lanes to get to the proper exit. It also allowed me to stay out of the way of people merging onto the highway. The other thing I found helpful was to let the traffic swarm. If a big mass of vehicles was coming up behind me, I held my speed steady and let them move right around me. Keeping a proper following distance between me and the vehicle ahead also allowed the swarm to go where it wanted, even if that meant people cutting in quickly. All in all, I got through the experience with only one minor wrong turn, which I quickly recovered from. I am so pleased. And now I'm safely back home. No more terror. Whew!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007



I watched 60 Minutes Sunday night. It appeared to be a repeat. One of the stories was about a drug that helps to erase memory. According to the report, memories stick best when accompanied by adrenaline. That's what makes stressful situations stick with us; the adrenaline locks them in place. One of the women interviewed had been raped by her doctor when she was 12 years old. This horrifying memory haunted her, affected her functioning for over 30 years, until she was given this drug (called propranolol), which shut off the physical after-effects of the memory. It wasn't that she didn't remember the rape; it's just that the drug gave her enough distance from it so that it didn't continue to rule her life.

Also on the program was an ethicist who worried that giving people a memory-erasing drug would cause them to lose a formative part of themselves. He also worried that doctors would start prescribing it for stupid stuff, like when someone drinks to much at a party and wants to forget the foolish way he acted. While it is true that stressful events help to shape us, I think that after a certain point, the emotions from them get in the way of true living, as they did for the woman who was raped. Thirty years! That's an awful amount of time to have to spend reliving a rape. If we're worried about whether a stressful situation has had a formative enough effect on a person, perhaps there could be a waiting period - a year or so, as long as the person isn't suicidal or homicidal from the event. As for the idea that doctors might overprescribe the drug, frankly, we deal with that with every other drug on the market. That's not the drug's fault. That's the fault of doctors and society.

See this link for more about propranolol and the memory-erasing discussion.

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Monday, June 18, 2007


A Tidy Summary

I have been looking for a complete list of the current White House administration's crimes against the U.S. Over at Dangerous Intersection, Erich Vieth posted a link to a list that mostly fits the bill. It's called "What Every American Should Know About Iraq" by David Michael Green. Now, if we could just include the denial of habeas corpus, the crap people have to put up with at airports in the name of security, the wire tapping of U.S. citizens, the Iraq Oil Bill, the diversion of Presidential business emails by Karl Rove through private email carriers, and the fiasco with the Attorney General's Office and U.S. Attorneys, etc., etc., plus any crittery things this administration's done that we don't know about yet, we could build a good case for treason. Lest you think that treason is too strong a word, here's the dictionary definition: "1: the betrayal of a trust: treachery 2: the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance . . . ." I'd say the Bush Administration has been trying to overthrow the U.S. government for some time now, wouldn't you?

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Story Eight Finished

I'm thrilled, thrilled, thrilled. I just finished writing story # 8 out of the 10 I'm working on for a book. Yippeeeee! Only two left. Whoop, whoop, victory dance!

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Sunday, June 17, 2007


It's Not the Heat . . .

I was on StumbleUpon and found a website for a woman who is putting together a book based on fan experiences of Dave Matthews Band. The woman, Lynda from New York, has created some very fine art inspired by the band's music. Check it out here. There's a link to her MySpace page on her website for more personal info about the artist.

As a writer and artist, the idea of inspiration is an interesting one to me. What is it about a particular band's music, or a particular writer's essay or book, or a particular artist's painting, that drives us to create something new? How does that inspiration turn and twist through the fibers of our own experience and emotions to convolute into something new, something that may, in turn, be inspirational for someone else?

In thinking about this, it would be fascinating to take an inspirational work and put together a schematic of all the additional works the original has spawned. Take something like Poe's "The Raven" and chart out its influence. Hmmm. Has this ever been done before? The genealogy of a work of art?

In other news, it's miserable hot again. No wait! It's not the heat, it's the humidity. Windy as all get out, too. The silvery backs of leaves are showing themselves, which means we're in for rain. It can come none too soon. I'm roasting.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007


Blog Housekeeping

Now that I'm online, I feel obligated to post something, anything, just so I don't miss the opportunity and then not get around to it later today. That's the way posting goes sometimes. So, not being able to come up with anything right away, I did a bit of blog housekeeping, dropped a few links on my sidebar, added a couple new ones, shuffled a couple around, got rid of the "How Much Is This Blog Worth?" widget.

One of the new blogs I've found is Reeva Dubois: Very Much the Queen Bee. He has an engaging style that hooked me right away. Humorous, too.

The good news, first gotten from Kim at Knit Whimsies, and then from Joanne herself at Poppy Seed Heart, is that Joanne had her baby. My daughter and I have been reading her blog faithfully to check her pregnancy progress and all is well. The baby is a boy, named Declan, and he and Mommy can be seen on Poppy Seed Heart. Congrats to Joanne and Hone!

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Friday, June 15, 2007


Miserable Hot Followed by T-storms

It's miserably hot today, muggy with a capital MUG. It was worse in the house than outside when I got home. Cranky-making weather. We've had a few thunderstorms this evening - in quick with the rain, sometimes dumping, and then it stops. Very mild thunder, so I'm still on the computer. Not a good idea because mild thunder can quickly become major.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007


Hard-Boiled Eggs

Young Son Number Two went to work with me today. He and a couple of his friends have been taking the exhibit building class the museum is offering and they're having such a blast that he and one of his buddies wanted to come back today to examine books in our library. For lunch, Young Son and I had hard-boiled eggs. I noticed that Young Son wasn't eating the yolks and I asked why. He said it's because the yolks are too dry and it's hard to breathe when eating them. Got it. That's exactly how I feel when eating the yolks. I told them they go down easier if eaten in little bites with some salt. He tried the technique and got through the yolks with nary a problem.

How many things in life are like hard-boiled eggs?

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007


My Lack of Stock Market Knowledge

I'm going to reveal my utter lack of stock market knowledge here, but I got to thinking about yesterday's post and wondered, why aren't bands, as businesses, a part of the stock market? Where are their IPOs and ROIs and ticker tape abbreviations? The really popular ones certainly have stakeholders, most of them for life.

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Monday, June 11, 2007


The Band IS a Startup

I read a blog post the other day by Darren Herman. It's called "The Startup as a Band" and Darren uses the post to draw analogies between a business startup and the Dave Matthews Band. He assigns each of the members of DMB to typical board roles of a startup, i.e. Dave is CEO/President, Carter is Sales Guru, Stefan is Technology Guru, Boyd is Marketing Guru, and LeRoi is Financial Wizard. Been mulling this over, being a bit bothered by it in an odd sort of way - people can make whatever analogies they like; it's no skin off my nose - but here's my revelation - A band is already a business, so while each band member can be assigned particular business "roles," in actuality there is no analogy to be made because band members are already serving as the board of directors for their organizations.

Being an artist and writer, I know how often people expect creative people (including musicians) to give away their talents - to become starving artists. So many bands struggle for beer money we forget that those who make it big, like DMB, are fronting massive organizations comprised of managers, roadies, producers, sound technicians, set designers, costume and makeup people, artists, photographers, caterers, marketers, bus drivers, pilots, etc. etc. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but my dictionary says that an analogy is "a resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike." A band IS a startup, thus the comparison is between apples and apples, thus no analogy.

It's difficult to be this crass about bands, especially those whose music we personally connect to, but there it is. The arts are big business. Minnesota Citizens for the Arts has released two studies about the economic impact of the arts in Minnesota. One, called "Artists Count!", polled individual artists and found that their economic impact as far as spending goes is $295 million. The other study, "The Arts: A Driving Force in Minnesota's Economy," shows that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations contribute $838.5 million to the state's economy and employ 22,000 people. Minnesota tends to be #3 (after New York and California) on arts spending, a haven of sorts for the creatively gifted. We, musicians, writers, artists, actors, etc., have a lot to offer society, and not just in the peace, love, beauty, quality of life categories. We're talking cold hard cash, baby. And DMB has leveraged it well as leaders of their corporation.

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A Student of Living Things

After reading "The Messenger of Magnolia Street," I had some difficulty getting into a new novel, which just happened to be "A Student of Living Things" by Susan Richards Shreve. I was attracted to this book by the cover, which shows a photograph of frog and snake specimens, and the title - A Student of Living Things. Just sounds good rolling off the tongue and can mean something deeper than simply being a biologist, which is the profession of the main character, Claire Frayn.

When I started reading, I noticed a staccato quality to the writing. It stood out for me because of its contrast to the rolling and mellifluous writing in "The Messenger of Magnolia Street." Once I got through the first chapter, I was drawn into the story. Briefly, it's about an intellectual Washington, D.C. family that suffers the loss of one of its members during a shooting and how each family member copes with the situation. Shreve does a good job of painting her characters with limited, but spot-on, description, which is sprinkled throughout the story. The character Bernard, who is on the perphery of the main action, is a good example. He is a tender-hearted guy who has lost his right leg below the knee and he gurgles in the back of his throat. Instantly, you can picture such a guy, filling in the specifics of your choice.

"A Student of Living Things" is a fine novel with a subtle understory of violence in Washington, D.C. after 9/11. It shows how going through death can bring one back to being a student of living things.

Here's a nice summary of the book from the blog Reading Frenzy.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007



Although it isn't legally summer yet, yesterday was one of those perfect summer days - good for motorcycling, sitting outside drawing, bonfiring and tenting. Sunny, warm (70-80 degrees Fahrenheit), some puffy clouds, which almost seemed to threaten rain in the morning, but decided against it.

While the kids were occupied with friends (sleepovers have been the thing to do now that school's out), Husband and I went for a motorcycle ride around a nearby lake. Gorgeous, although Husband took a bug to the ear at one point.

When we returned, Eldest Son and Husband sat down to watch a little TV. SciFi channel was playing the movie "Lake Placid II." Eldest said that it was craptastic movie day on SciFi. Isn't craptastic a great word? Eldest was referring to movies with plots so predictable that you know what's going to happen before the movie even starts. All you have to do is insert your favorite mutant animal and you've got the storyline. The Lake Placid movies are about giant, killer crocs. After "Lake Placid II," the movie "Ice Spiders" was in cue. It was so craptastic that the guys didn't even bother to watch it.

Meanwhile, I sat on the back step listening to music and doing some of the drawing exercises out of "Keys to Drawing with Imagination," the book I mentioned in yesterday's post. I filled about three pages in a drawing pad; some of the results are above. The first image is of the exercise "Take a Line on a Walk." In this exercise, you draw a quick doodle first, a line that hooks up to itself. Don't think about this too hard - it's a doodle. The next step, what Bert Dodson calls noodling, is to fill in the doodle using various techniques. The first one I did is the large shaded one at the top, followed by the one just below it with the spiralling lines.

The second image above is a portion of a page on which I continued more exercises from Dodson's book. I didn't care for how much of the page turned out, but I did like the rabbit, cat, and flowers I came up with. The cat is the outline of Rotten Spotty, who kept sneaking out and dashing off every time the back door opened yesterday. Little bugger.

The third image is from the "Building Blocks" exercise in the book. Drawing bricks or stones (or stubbling, dotting, or stippling), you're supposed to stack them up until you have another image. This is one of my favorite exercises because I've always loved mosaics. I've drawn these sorts of trees before, but I particularly like the stone one here.

As for the bonfiring and tenting I mentioned in my opening paragraph, last night Young Son Number Two had a friend over. We started a fire in the fire pit.
It wasn't really a bonfire, although the kids like to call it that. It was a campfire. It took some doing to get going because we didn't have enough small kindling to keep the fire alight after the paper burned up. When we finally had a decent fire going, we had the requisite s'mores, although we prefer to eat them disassembled. Afterwards, Young Son and his friend slept out in the tent. Ahh, summer. It's anything but craptastic.

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Friday, June 08, 2007


Drawing & Such

I took another vacation day today, which resulted in the day feeling like Saturday instead of Friday. Daughter, husband and I went shopping. Daughter is joining cross-country and wanted a pair of running shoes. I took my sewing machine in to be repaired. The zig-zag stitch mechanism isn't working. The machine has seen fairly light use since I bought it back in 1995. My husband can't believe I still have the receipt.

This evening, husband and I took Young Son Number Two out for a walk. Pleasant time for it - breezy, but not cold, sunny, not too many bugs.

Last night (I seem to be backing up in time here), I finished a fiber arts piece that I'm thinking of using for the collection of short stories I'm writing. Let's be honest, I'm really working on a book, but if I think of it as a collection of short stories, it seems more manageable. Now that I'm well on my way toward finishing story #8, I have to think about the format the book will take, which includes the cover. That's what the fiber piece is about. My first love, as far as interests go, is art. I've been drawing and doing some sort of fiber art since I was a kid. Now that I'm coming to book layout and design, my fingers will be all over that as well as the writing.

If I haven't created a piece of art in a while, I tend to forget how much I like the process. This morning I was talking to Eldest Son and spotted a library book on the floor near his bed (the best place for library books, in my opinion). I asked if I could look at it and got the go ahead from Eldest Son. The book is called "Keys to Drawing with Imagination" by Bert Dodson. What a fabulous book. Even if you're not an artist, it's fun to look through with its acres of whimsical drawings. Should you choose to delve in, Dodson starts you out with a chapter called "Doodling and Noodling," which is a no-stress way to get drawing. And I mean no-stress. Trust me on this. I've taken many a college art class in my day and haven't seen the "Take a Line on a Walk" exercise before. I'm just itching to get out my pencils and good paper.

Addendum (just a wee bit later, same day): Here is the link to Bert Dodson's real-deal website. The one above is for his book on Amazon.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


The Mind of Young Son #2

Young Son Number Two is currently out and about with the digital camera. Flick, flick, flick. I love that thing. We can take pictures 'til our heart's content and delete with impugnity those we don't like. Over the weekend, Young Son took well over 100 photos, of which five are above. He's got several self-portraits, like the first picture above, including close-ups of his hair, his eyes, and his feet. He likes odd angles and close-ups, which give his photos an artistic quality. Note the ladder in the window well, the trees masked by the window frame, and the mixing bowl sink. As for the pants, Young Son liked the juxtapostion of the wet upper portion with the dry zip-off sections.

In an unrelated note, I just stepped outside and was hit with a gale-force wind. It's gray and cold today and I do suspect that we're in for some rain.

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Washcloth Complete

Here's the hemp washcloth I finished knitting this past weekend. I love the texture and feel of the hemp. It's not as scratchy as you might expect. The texture shows up better in the second photo. I didn't use a flash, which allowed more shadows to show up.

I got the hemp and knitting instructions from my sister-in-law a couple of years ago, but only recently felt confident enough in my knitting ability to tackle the washcloth. Next is the bath mitt, which should be fun. So, then, is it re-gifting if you receive the materials for a project and then give away the finished product?

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Thunderous Downpour

Here's the thunderous downpour we got last Saturday afternoon. Hail preceded the massive soaking. Photos courtesy of Young Son Number Two.

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Monday, June 04, 2007


Sex Ed - Who's Problem Is It?

Talk to your kids about the birds and bees, only don't call it the birds and bees, use the real-deal terms. Keep it scientific and natural. Don't let kids get their sex education from friends, who don't know diddle either. This is all fine and good, this advice . . . until it becomes chastisement, which it inevitably does. Why haven't you talked to your kids about sex? Shame on you! Leaving them all uninformed.

Let's just hold the phone for a moment. Has it ever occurred to the experts doing the chastising that maybe it's not the parents who are afraid to talk about sex with their kids, but the kids who are afraid to hear it from their parents? Whenever I broach any sort of sex education topic with my kids, they roll their eyes and stiffen. You can feel them steeling themselves against what might be coming. It's embarrassing for them because they don't like to think of their parents as sexual beings. Can you imagine your parents doing it? Even if you're an adult right now? Yuck, right? That's what kids bring to the table, no matter how much the parents are ready for The Talk (or the numerous Talks over the years). When met with this kind of resistance, it's difficult to speak in a way that isn't stilted or halting, which increases the discomfort all the way around. What then are parents supposed to do to ensure their kids know all they're going to need to know?

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Sunday, June 03, 2007


The Messenger of Magnolia Street

I can't contain myself. This morning I finished reading one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. The beauty comes from the arrangement of the words, the use of the English language in a glorious way. The book is called "The Messenger of Magnolia Street" by River Jordan (isn't her name poetic?). The novel follows three main characters, Nehemiah, Billy and Trice, childhood playmates, now adults, who are charged with saving the town of Shibboleth from a misty, mysterious wasting away spawned by pure evil. From the very opening of the book, I found myself wanting to reread paragraphs just to savor the writing. I'd reread to figure out how River did it, how she captured me and held me, not just in the thrall of the story, but in awe of her sentence construction and word usage. You could take a pile of words and hand them off to various writers, but very few would be able to accomplish what River has with this story. There's a moseying to the story, even in the build up to the scary parts. While the scary parts clip faster, there's still time for rolling over sentences in the mind, repeating them for full effect.

When I started the novel, it reminded me of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird." Upon researching River Jordan, I found that her writing has been compared to Harper Lee's.

I'm going to be taking this book to my writers group in a week and reading passages to everyone for inspiration. Fabulous book.

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Roy Zimmerman

My husband was looking for references to "Dick Cheney" on YouTube and ran across musician/comedian Roy Zimmerman. The guy's a riot. Now, if you are a conservative with a taste for the current White House administration, you probably won't appreciate Roy's stuff. Don't say I didn't give you fair warning.

Along with the "Dick Cheney" song, check out "Ted Haggard Is Completely Heterosexual."

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As you may or may not have noticed, I've skipped a couple of days in blogging. The weather is nice and there's been a lot to do, but I've been gathering subject matter and have about six ideas worth. I won't inundate you with them all tonight, but will cover a few in separate posts.

First, and foremost, today is a Red Letter Day: My husband and I have been married 18 years as of today. How's that for cool? Doesn't feel that long. The time has simply flown by. The weather was marvelous today; sunny, a few clouds, warm - just like 18 years ago - except there was more wind today. The irises, our wedding flower, also bloomed earlier this year than they did back then. Ahh! Such a pleasant anniversary.

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