Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Ecluse says goodbye to the old year

au revoir, dear year

I sit here in Montana, the 29th of December, which is my sister Tracey's birthday. I doubt I will blog again in 2011. So many lovely experiences for the year. I would be hard pressed to list them & I would rather be soft pressed this late in the year.

If you email me & don't hear back right away, it may be because I am not in any sort of wi-fi zone & it may be for the same reason that I don't get into the whole social networking thing. I've come up with a great term for the condition--which is a surprising one for someone who used to check her email every 30 seconds or so. I am an ecluse. Perhaps it would be better hyphenated. E-cluse?

To all of you, I bid adieu to the 2011 versions. May the 2012 version be even more peaceful, loving, imaginative, creative, productive, intentional. May your new year be a masterpiece of clarity & dreamfullfillminting.

Blog alternative:
221. Say goodbye to your old self. Give yourself a day or two to just become. Say hello to the new.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Heart solstice celebrated early

translucent shadows

Well, December is trending toward ending. I am wending (soon) toward Montana. Perhaps I shall blog again this year; perhaps not.

What has happened in the first 19 days of the last month of the year? I won my second spelling bee. Not as many contenders, but Heather, who is a singer, was fierce at the end when we were the last two left. We had so much fun. I'm looking forward to trying it again in January. (If you happen to be a word afficionado (which Blogger does not recognize--so funny!) & you happen to be in the vicinity of Olive or Twist in Asheville on the third Monday of the month, dust off your letters & join in the camaraderie.)

I've also been doing some lovely organizing & writing & arting & photographing & dreaming & walking & etcetera-ing. Plus Derrick & I have been on a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine marathon. Lots of fun to reconnect with my buddies on the space station.

May your trails wend through curiosities & joy. May the light within your heart increase by 3 minutes a day, starting now. (Why wait?)

Blog alternative:
220. Drape something pretty over a bedpost, if you have a bedpost. One of mine is decorated with with several necklaces made by the lovely & talented Elise Matthesen & a hat that says Semper Fi. (Hey, pretty is in the eye of the beholder.) (If you don't have a bedpost, how about a lamp or a newel post or a coat rack or...)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Forget the well-tempered clavier--It's the well-dressed cello

Nick in a tree at UNCA

Howard has lost his sunglasses

Recently, I liberated Howard, my World Fantasy Award, from the box in which he has been "living." His rather bulbous eyes (H.P.Lovecraft as envisioned by Gahan Wilson) are quite sensitive after being ensconced in cardboard lo these many years. He hid on a shelf behind some artwork & tried out my sunglasses, but they seem to have fallen off. Poor Howard.

I have to admit that the main reason I am writing this is to blog 4 times in a month, which I haven't done for a while. Doing everything but blogging, I guess. Just today, I spiced up one window's covering, dressed my cello up as if she were a woman with a kudzu basked head & an aluminum armature neck, & played some poker at Buffalo Wild Wings against crazy persons who called themselves Pink, Blue & Max & would go all in on crazy low level hands. Consequently, I ended up with almost $30K virtual dollars. Also walked to the post office, visited with my friend Elizabeth, did the usual morning work with Derrick & continued the re-org of my art supplies & ideas.

Nick is back in Pittsburgh. We had a very rainy drive down to the Greenville airport & I hung out at a Wendy's for about half an hour after I dropped him off, to let the traffic subside a bit. We had a truly splendid time. He introduced Derrick & I to a cool 3-person card game called 99.

Blog alternative:
219. Dress up a window, even temporarily. A colored bottle, some tissue paper, a figurine.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The crisper drawer is flirting with me again...

Thanksgiving Dinner
Nick & I
water, kipper snacks, clementines, granola bars, peanut butter & bananas
in a historic Greenville cemetery

We do know how to live it up right! Spontaneous picnicking in a cemetery. In some ways, it reminded me of Paris, because the Parisians love their cemeteries & will go there to walk at lunchtime.

Right now he is coding at the kitchen table, working on his iPad app for Skritter. (You too will be able to learn to write Chinese, as if your finger is made of flame, should you so choose.) Derrick just got home & got all jazzed about the Simply Orange with Mango juice in the fridge. I am drinking tea & talking to you. (By the time you read this, I may be done, but the faint smoky scent of lapsang souchong lingers.)

I have come up with (yet another) brilliant idea. I don't know if it's ever happened to you (Okay, I know. It has.) that fruity & vegetably goodness has turned to sad, smelly slime in the crisper drawer. Sometimes I don't think to open the crisper drawer. So--I wrote a note.

Dear Laurel,
Please open me.
The Crisper Drawer

So far it has worked very well. The idea is only a few days implemented, but I think it is going to be a much more robust idea than the duct tape zipper pull replacement idea. I kept forgetting about it & starting to unzip my pants & then a few zipper teeth would bite into the duct tape & I had to wrest the tape from the zipper's little mouth &--well, I'll either get a new zipper put in or the pants will go bye-bye.

There are so many things I am appreciating on this day: Quiet historic cemeteries in which to eat a (semi) traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Crisper drawers with still edible produce. Sticky notes. Ideas. The way an external trigger (Nick coming for Thanksgiving) can spur projects to greater completion. My own mind & heart. My own body & soul.

Blog alternative:
218. Write a note from your crisper drawer. Or your hiking shoes. Or your art supplies.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pterodactyl Diphthongs & other dread beasts

I chose a photo of words because--aside from the lovely message--I am celebrating words. The last time I participated in a spelling bee was when I was in the 8th grade. (Nigh onto 40 years ago, come spring.) There's a bar in Asheville called Olive or Twist (very cute, don't you think?) that has just begun having spelling bees. $3 entry fee; winner takes all. I made $45! (If you don't count the slice of red velvet cake & the very generous tip. If you count that, I made $35.)

Anyway, it's kinda sorta late here--the bell is striking 11; wee willie winkie is having conniption fits--so I shall make this a baby post.

Blog alternative:
217. Spell a hard word out loud. If you're hanging around with others, have someone else give you a word to spell.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Where has all the duct tape gone?" & other songs

& baby makes 3

I have a confession. Right now, my pants are being held together by duct tape. Seriously. They're hand-me-down jeans (thanks, Mom) that fit me as if they were made for me. The only problem, aside from the little ice cream cone logo (who wants an ice cream cone on her ass?) is that the zipper has an unfortunate habit of unzipping. For a while I just zipped them up all the time. Then I started only wearing them with long shirts--still zipping them up all the time, because even a girl doesn't like walking around with her fly open--but today the little zipper pull fell off. Trust me, it's no fun to zip & rezip without even a zipper pull!

That's when the light bulb went on. One tiny little piece of duct tape--easily removable when one does want to unzip--& ones fly problems are solved!

Aside from my miraculous invention, I have recently re-organized my room to include my drafting table--yay! I can paint again! (Oh, oh. The exclamation mark police will be on my case again. That's four already. The parentheses police have given up on me completely. They just send me a monthly citation & I pay up (gladly!) & go on my merry parenthetical way. Good thing the ampersand is not a major misdemeanor.) (Did you know the ampersand used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet & got its name because primer kids reciting their abc's ended with "w, x, y, z, and, per se, and." By then, they were sick of reciting & ready for recess, so that got mushed all together in something that sounded like "ampersand." I just love

Yesterday I wrote a villanelle. It's been a while since I poured my creativity into the rich constraints of form. I was inspired by a friend who is writing a sonnet crown (10 linked sonnets. 10! Yikes!) Now, I am not a sonneteer (one for all & all for one) so I had be the crafty villanelless. Bwaa haaa haaa haaa.

I also completed a survey for the McKnight Foundation. In 2003 I won a McKnight Fellowship for children's fiction. I had a really good time with the survey, so I will share a couple of the questions & my answers with you.

What are you most excited about in your work as an artist?

I'm excited by the fact that my work reflects my growth as a person, that I'm relaxed & easy about creation, expecting & receiving it naturally. I'm excited about the many different aspects that seem to be getting together in the toybox after I've fallen asleep or been working on something else, & creating their own offspring (photography & poetry, philosophy & equations, art mixed in with everything, collage as a business plan & lecture notes).

What conditions support your best work?

Plenty of silence. Getting out into nature, preferably walking. Having my supplies at the ready. I just set up my drafting table in the corner of my bedroom & have a firm rule: It is not to be used for storage. Only art supplies & active art projects. A combination of interacting with other creative individuals & solitude. Always having paper & writing implements with me--an idea can land at any moment, ready for its close-up. Touching into my inner self at least once a day. Having a variety of projects & modes of expression (art, writing, sculpture, collage, photography) going on at once, so if I'm not inspired in one venue, there's another juicy one jumping up & down, saying, "Pick me! Pick me!"

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Start out. Start small, start big, start in the middle, but start. Be excited with where you are. (You may groan over it later, but give yourself the gift of loving your work, even if you know it can be better. It will get better if you keep going.) Don't over-emphasize the value of dollars. Ignore that factor if you can. Minimize it if you can't ignore it completely. A joyful experience can keep you going forever, &--if you're not having fun--no amount of dollars will be worth it. Work in little bits. Have a dedicated space--even if it's a card table in the corner of your bedroom--where you can leave your materials out & ready in case you create 10 minutes of creation time. Do NOT allow that lovely horizontal surface to be "a useful place to put things on." Only art supplies & active art shall be allowed. Keep it inviting. If you have to get out your stuff & spread it on the dining room table & then put it away for kids' homework or a meal, you will not "art" nearly as much. Celebrate little steps--sending a story out or finishing a chapter or putting gesso on a canvas--& not just big ones, like selling a novel, getting a solo gallery show, or winning a McKnight.

Blog alternative:
216. Fill out a short survey. You can use these 3 questions if you'd like, or make up your own.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

World Fantasy Convention Membershipment Pending

I've been collecting things I found on the ground. Some I pick up & put in my pocket or my canvas bag. (The other day I found half a pig! The back half, so I don't know who got the squeal. I think it was made of hematite, or something that looks like hematite, & the back half was about the size of my thumbnail.) Some I collect with my camera, like this little pretty.

I'm keeping this post short, because I'm "busy right now" (as Nick said to my mom when he was just a toddler being called in to eat. He didn't even look at her, just waved his hand dismissively & said those now immortal words) but I have a blogging purpose: Because I am "busy right now," I have decided to not attend the long-sold-out World Fantasy Convention in San Diego. Because I am not a social media girl, I don't access the Facebook & Twitter sites where the lists of those desperately wanting to attend are posted. Hence, this blog. If you want to go or you know someone who does or you are a Facebookie &/or a Twitterite who would like to let some "friend" know about this, I am bequeathing the knowledge to you. If you put a 1 in front of the $2 I found on the ground & a 5 after it, you have the membership price of $125.

Let me know, or let someone else know they can let me know (probably pretty quickly, because WFC is next weekend & I have to get a letter transferring membership--I can probably email a scanned, signed letter to the happy attendee) at

WFC 2011 membership for $125

Voila. Off to my other business.

Blog alternative:
215. Take a look at what you were going to do in the next week or so. Is it still what works best for you? Feel free to change your mind!

ooh, ooh, ooh! late-breaking news. just saw a video of "quantum levitation" which you can find on you-tube! you must see it! not nearly enough exclamation points!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Queen Faraday goes barefoot

Some time ago, I bought princess glasses at Cracker Barrel. They're pink , with an attached tiara (with rhinestones & a rather strangely-orange "gem" at the top) & rose-colored lenses. Across the base of the tiara they say, "Queen for a Day." (So why don't I call them queen glasses? Princess glasses, I'm sure you'll agree, has a much better ring to it.)

Queen For a Day morphed itself, in my mind & mouth, into Queen Faraday, so I looked up Michael Faraday on wikipedia (go ahead, I'll wait) & read about his splendificy. There was so much I hadn't known about Faraday, that he was almost completely self-educated, bad at math, member of a strict religious sect (the Sandemanians) & one of the most important scientists of his (or any) generation.

Queen Faraday needed a first name, & I chose Emilia, for Emily Dickinson & Amelia Earhart--who they would have been if they'd been in a transporter accident. (Normally, I would set that phrase off with parentheses, but--for Ms. Dickinson--I used a dash.)

Her middle name? Blake of course, after William, poet & philosopher & artist & mystic. I like to keep the Tygers burning bright, in the forests of the night & elsewhere.

I tell you of this now because I am reading a biography of Michael Faraday. I believe William Blake will be next. I've already read a biography of Amelia Earhart, after I'd sold Growing Wings & the editor wanted quotes about wings or flying at the beginning of each paragraph. I also read the complete poems of Emily Dickinson at that time. I do look forward to her biography.

Blog alternative:
215. Create an alter-ego from admired heroes. Hat-shep-sut Da Vinci? (middle name Babe, from Ruth &/or Didrickson?)

Friday, September 9, 2011

The ghost of summer past loses her tan & buys school shoes

I have found June--or, rather, I have not, but she has been seen with August. August, that rascal, that rogue. He who drives the ice cream truck past the children while they are shopping for school shoes, wiggling his own bare toes. "I am still summer," he whispers in every ear. "Listen to me. Turn out your pockets & try to buy these warm days. Keep them in a jar & open them in November--or, better yet, February."

I won't even hope you didn't listen, for I know you did. Like you did last year. Like you will next. Even though the jar will be empty when you twist the lid off. Summer does not keep. Never has, never will.

But, if you are like me, you were immune to the blandishments of August, for I am a child of the transitional seasons. Spring & fall, when my favorite temperature (63 degrees) is more & more likely to occur, even if only in passing. That is why I like living in the mountains. (Here's a picture of a mountain cloudburst spilling over the gutters at my parents' house in Nye, Montana, where my love of mountains formed.)

I drove to Montana in August & attended my niece's wedding & a family reunion & played many a good card game with my parents. I stopped in the saloons of Meeteetse, Wyoming, on the way up, a secret favor to a street musician I know who is writing a book based on dreams of a sporting woman's life. The favor is still a secret, for I have not yet happened upon my friend & her guitar. Soon, I hope.

Oh, there will be more news in sweet September. Creations of all kinds. (Including the Pearcumber Chardonnay Smoothie!) I sent a photo & 2 poems & 2 stories & 1 essay to the Artist's & Writer's Quarterly. Also entered 3 photographs in a juried show that required the artist's hand to be directly involved. I did watercolor details. Will know soon if my photos were accepted for the show, but I had SO much doing the detailing that the price of admission was already well spent.

So what did you do during your summer vacation? Get out the blue-lined paper & the number 2 pencil. A perfect segue into the

Blog alternative:
214. Write about some summer. Perhaps this one that has just passed. Perhaps one from your childhood (or your second childhood...) or a summer yet to come. Write a summer you wish you'd had. Rewrite a summer that wasn't to your taste. There will be no grades, no red marginal notes, no gold stars. This is your summer, & what anyone else thinks is irrelevant.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good morning rainshine

Today we have rain
water from the sky
I was ready
heat waves are not my first
(or second)

I like rain & cool nights with the windows open. Good thing I live in the mountains. Of course, I like sun, too, but I do modify the old song--"always walk on the shady side of the street." Never been much for lying out in the sun. I get bored. Also hot. No, give me a nice spot of shade & perhaps a mojito. A little rainshine.

This is kinda sorta an excuse to blog, but I will not linger here. Neither should you.

Blog alternative:
213. Go window shopping. Really. Look at windows. Restaurants sometimes have nice ones. Look for old ones with cracked paint on the frames, maybe cracked glass in the frames. Stained glass. Interesting shapes. How about a window of opportunity or a window to the soul?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kindergarten blind date

what is the summer?
a not-blog zone?
do not worry, though,
about my relationship with words & pictures.
I write away.
I write to.
I write out & into.
I draw upon & out & together.
new & newish & a little bit old.
the past five years, mostly,
the new baby work is a big
girl/boy now,
off to school.
mother, I'd rather do it myself!
you go right ahead...
I'll do the laundry & make lunches
& be there when you want to talk.

seriously & playfully, I am getting the work together. or the work is getting me together. either way, we are having so much fun.

so, back to work.

Blog alternative:
212. Dust off an old idea. Introduce it to a new idea, or another old idea. Look at your watch & say, "omigoodness, I have to be somewhere!" Dim the lights & hit the romantic music on the way out. Imagine the ideas, laughing at your obviousity, getting ready to go off & do their own things, but deciding they might as well drink the wine you opened before you left...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Love letters to June, wherever she may be now

I have successfully eluded June, or she me. Who was in hiding? Who was the stalker? Who hired a private detective & who stole her own identity & threw its ashes into the sea? June & I--

--oh, we pretended we didn't know each other, but we were carrying on a secret affair, with code words and messages left in empty wine bottles, written with invisible ink on papyrus. We rented a hotel room for thirty days & kept the do-not-disturb sign hanging, stealing fresh sheets & towels from the carts & sliding tips for the maids under the door, sneaking in & out via the service elevator. An hour or less sometimes, the proverbial quickie, & once a full week of lounging skin to skin. We met in forests & on the blank pages of journals. We sent each other crypt0-erotic emails & detailed business plans. Transactions. Intersections.

Who was Laurel & who was June? We couldn't tell each other apart. As we embraced & picnicked & sang in the (thunder)shower, so many things blossomed around us. Then, suddenly, she was gone. All that is left is the bouquet, the scent of the flowerings, the petal potpourri:

first & second place in poetry for the NCCCR Artist's & Writers Quarterly

first & second place in fiction

Roger Dutcher, the editor of the Magazine of Speculative Poetry, emailed me & asked me to send poems &, by the way, did I own the artwork on my blog & did I ever do black & white & would I be interested in doing cover art

Diane Severson Mori, who has a show called Poetry Planet on the podcast StarShip Sofa, sent me a link to her first segment, which included a poem of mine (Emily Dickinson never) & asked for more poems on time travel

got notification from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that "egg horror poem" has re-upped for next year's 9th grade literature textbook

sent poems &/or stories to 5 or 6 magazines

wrote a bunch (can't count that high, not enough fingers & toes) of poems & a short story that may become a longer story or may stay the creepy little jewel it is now

sent off my state privilege license for "The Art of Healing" so I can officially practice my energy work

did a bunch more reorganizing on my room, including some deep paper work, some surface shining & much more--plus retained enthusiasm for the next wave & am keeping up with maintenance

re-instituted the "lifting weights most even-numbered days" plan

watched movies, played poker, took walks, drew pictures, cooked great food, felt great joy, thought great thoughts, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. (That could be enough etceteras to cover the rest of my clandestine affair with June...)

Blog alternative:
211. Sneak off & have a delicious secret affair with a day. Tell no one. (Well, you can tell me...)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Getting my own attention

I had this great idea for a blog. Maybe it will re-occur to me while I am typing. Maybe it won't.

Um, did you see me just sitting there, not typing?

So, trot out the old laundry list of what I've been doing today & in recent days past. Today was pretty fun because (for the first time) I submitted entries to the NCCCR Artists & Writers Quarterly. I put in 2 stories, 2 poems & 2 photographs. You may deduce from those numbers that the maximum number of entries per category is 2. If indeed you so deduced, you are correct. I had a good time choosing (so much to choose from!) a first batch. Perhaps next time I will enter some nonfiction & artwork as well or instead. (Probably "as well" is the correct term; I can't really see myself deliberately not choosing my faves...)

While I was at the Reuter Center, I read a fascinating article entitled "The Possibilian" in the April 25, 2011, New Yorker. It's about a guy named David Eagleman, who is a quirky neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. It is perhaps appropriate that I have a picture of a boy who is suspended in the sky, as far as the margins tell you, because the article opens with an anecdote (relevant) of Eagleman falling off a roof when he was 8 years old & the resulting apparent time dilation. Don't worry, the article isn't just about the mechanics of perception--you also get asp caterpillars, Emerson & Crick, rock drummers, a new religion, & how to free oneself from frivolous eating in order to work more efficiently. (Hint: raw potatoes, microwave, paper cups.) Check it out!

The universe works in strange & marvelous ways, delivering this to me a couple days after I saw a wretched movie that explored the very same life-or-death-time-dilation effect. (But don't watch The Green Hornet. Trust me on this. Read the article about David Eagleman instead.)

I just remembered my original idea!

Last week at poker, I won the grand total of $13.40. This is fun & lovely, but it is even more mindblowingly cosmically wonderful when I remembered that the week before I had lost exactly that much! I pay attention to numbers (My dad & I call each other when our odometers are about to turn over to some cool thing, like 55,555, which my mom & dad experienced within the last couple weeks.) so it was very appropriate for me to get my own attention this way. (Look, dear beautiful beloved being, I said to me, using the language of poker chips, what a powerful creator you are.) (I being the cosmic soul-ish part of me that can orchestrate such things & me being the chick enjoying her weekly poker night, winning some hands & losing some hands & getting help counting up my chips at the end) I actually enjoyed it far more than I would have if I had won $20.

This weekend was the rose show at the arboretum & I decided to go one of the days. Maybe Saturday. Got up & set the intention for roses & poker. Then Derrick really really wanted the lawn mower fixed & his truck is still in the shop so I volunteered to drive him & the lawn mower to the repair shop. Were we thinking it was likely to be closed, it being memorial day weekend? Nope. Ah, but it was. So, we drove to another shop, where my former property manager (Hi, Tom!) works which was open, but, alas, they do not work on that type of lawn mower. Told us to take it to Ace Hardware in Weaverville. Now, if someone else is all juiced up about cutting the grass, I'm all juiced up about helping them do so, & off to Weaverville we drove, where he discovered that they're 6 weeks backed up (summer's practically over by then!) & tried to tell him crazy shit about his lawn mower without even looking at it. Wasted trip? Au contraire. Some builder friends of his just happened to be there & they offered to let him use their new lawn mower, which lives less than 2 miles from the grass that desperately wanted cutting. (Hmm, did the grass want cutting? I shall have to ponder that...) Anyway, in the strangest way, we both got what we wanted that day: because Ace Hardware is right by a store called Roses. (& I did pop over to Buffalo Wild Wings & play some poker.) Sunday I checked out the rose show & smelled every single one.

I've also been having good luck with attracting (or perhaps just noticing) bluejays when I was thinking particularly wonderful thoughts.

Blog alternative:
210. Think about the sorts of things you like to notice. Songs on the radio? Numbers? License plates or bumper stickers or signs? Set an intention & see how you (that's the big Y You) deliver it to your (little y) self. You may be surprised & delighted by the method.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

(your name here), this is YOUR life

I don't blog for you.

I blog because I have something to say or a photograph or artwork I want to share or (ideally) both. This is my blog. This is my path. This is my walk. This is my journey. This is my life.

Don't get me wrong--sharing this with you is a lot of fun. If some of you are enjoying it, that's lovely. & if you're not enjoying it--stop reading! Do something else. Do not feel obligated to read this because you know me or someone you know told you that you would like it. If you don't like it, don't read it. Seriously.

We each have our own individual perspective. You can imagine a mile in someone else's moccasins, but any mile you walk is still your mile. (Plus, what are you doing with their moccasins anyway? Their moccasins probably don't fit you & (unless they are my son Nick) they probably need their moccasins.) (Nick is the king of barefoot.)

Yesterday we took a lovely walk, each in our own moccasins, err, hiking boots. Nice temperature, great foliage (the mountain laurels are blooming!), etcetera. We'd been carrying a philosophical conversation from one venue to another, & this path was no exception. One of the topics was happiness, & how waiting for some external thing to happen for it to be able to arrive (a different job, a bigger house, a (fill-in-the-blank)) meant that whenever (fill-in-the-blank) happened, there would still be a new (fill-in-the-blank) required. You just had to get happy here. You just had to get happy now. Pre(fill-in-the-blank). As we were leaving the walk, we loaded up the conversation into the Nissan Cube (cute car!) that the dealer lent Derrick because his truck has been in there since (practically) the Cube was invented, & set off for home.

Only to stop so Derrick could buy a pair of Carharts to replace the ripped pair he was wearing & I could buy me a cool Columbia shirt to replace the shirt I was wearing. It's my favorite summer traveling shirt, since it has a collar which keeps the seatbelt from rubbing my neck & woven rather knit & lightweight--& Carol Fosdick gave it to me years & years ago when she cleaned it out of her closet & the fabric has begun to disintegrate from overuse...

Only to stop again to eat at this (used to be Chinese & now is Japanese, with brand new decor & a TON of waitstaff) buffet. As we sat down, I made my totally brilliant statement for the day, distilling the entire philosophical conversation into one bite-sized unit:

If you aren't happy hungry, you're not going to be happy when you're full.

In other words, enjoy the creation of appetite. Enjoy all the other ways you're getting fed--through your other senses, through your thoughts & feelings. Enjoy knowing that hunger passes &--thankfully--so does satiation. How boring it would be to never want, or anticipate, or desire a meal, or anything else. Ahh, hunger. Ya gotta love it.

(We shall not be going back to that buffet, by the way. The food was okay, but more expensive than it used to be, not too surprising, given the decor & extensive waitstaff, & our waiter was extremely ingratiating, shaking both of our hands not once, but twice, & smiling super super widely. Then when he got the signed check, he instantly looked at it to see how well he'd been tipped (it's a buffet--he brought us iced tea & carried away 2 plates & we gave him 10 percent) & then gave us a pointedly lukewarm "thanks for coming" as we left.)

Blog alternative:
209. Think about the things you do for other people. If there are any that you are not doing for you as well, can you revise them so they serve you? If not, consider not doing them...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fruit seeking Vegetable for friendship or romance

The king of all colors
offers a heart of gold

Just a quickie tonight. Wanted to post another picture, this one done with the virtual crayons. It's supposed to warm up tomorrow, back into the 70s, which will be welcome. We've had 3 days of chilly--even snow in the mountains. The gardens aren't exactly happy, but it has not frozen.

I am not a gardener, at this moment, but I sometimes hang out with people who are. & I like to eat vegetables & fruits. As a matter of fact, I had both, together, for supper, in the form of a grilled (okay, so I cheated & sauteed, it being chilly) strawberry & asparagus salad, with vinaigrette & chevre. Now aren't I fancy dancy!

Blog alternative:
208. Marry up a fruit & a vegetable. The aforementioned strawberries with asparagus is recommended (tomorrow I will add tomato & avocado to them) but how about kumquats & zucchini? If you come up with any fab recipes, I'd love to hear them. (& I'm going to add some of the free range organic boneless skinless chicken thighs I baked to my salad as well.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Muck Boots Spokesmodel

a new picture, just for today

Yesterday they announced the 5 regional winners for Farm Mom of the Year. My sister's name was not among them, which I think must be remedied. So here, for all to see, (or at least the portion of all that reads my blog) is that which I wrote for my sister & emailed in to the contest. (I used to--& still do--call my sister Tracey Leaf. Much more fun than Lee...)

Muck Boots Spokesmodel

Tracey Leaf. Strong belief. Farmer's wife. Loves the life. Common sense. Can fix a fence. Swather. Baler. Pony tail-er. Prom dress fixer. Silage mixer. Recipes. Remedies. Sweet corn to freeze. Loving passion. Thrifty fashion. Good with numbers—also lumber. Build-a-shelf do-it-herself trash-to-treasure decorator. With-what-she's-got innovator. Irrigation. No vacation. Midnight calving. Boo boo salving. Change a tire. Light a fire. Teaches manners. Knows what matters. Good with money. Smart and funny. Help-meet. Sugar beet. Rogueing wheat. Good advice-er. No one's nicer. Ready smile. Extra mile. Blizzard, flood, drought or hail--she outperforms the U.S. mail. Brought a bucket calf and the milk cow, Flo, to school on Ag day just for show. Bum lamb to Bible school; kids thought that was cool. The class in anatomy and physiology came to see cows tested for pregnancy. Took town kids to get their own pigs and hauled them all to the fair when the pigs were big. Always in the kitchen for an FFA shindig. When out-of -town teams come to play ball, her quadruple baked spaghetti feeds them all. City cousins to the farm. Turn them on to country charm. Gave the ditch rider rides to the local VA (only 90 miles away) and cleaned up his house when he passed away. Taught chores to the boy who gave her daughter a ring and hosted an exchange student from Beijing. Doesn't whine. Makes life shine. Knows what to say. Knows how to pray. Makes time for fun, 'cuz work's never done. Cajoles. Consoles. Casseroles. Rolls with punches. Fixes lunches. Handles gritty. Cleans up pretty. Strong and sweet and wise and sure. Raising daughters fine as her.

Blog alternative:

207. Write an appreciation for someone, 300 words or less. Extra credit if you make it rhyme. (I also had to put in things like: educates consumers about agriculture & how she supports local ag organizations--I won't require that of you. grin.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Into the wild blue yonder...

who the heck am I? someone even more wonderful & authentic & autonomous & creative & independent than I have been practicing believing. someone who is supported by the boundless universe. someone who lives in her own body but is not bounded by it. someone who is grounded & winged. someone who requires nothing of others & relaxes into the best of her. someone who sees the best of others. someone who be's. someone who is. someone who Is. someone who marries up with her inner self. someone who can feel it all coming together in the nexus of her own universe. someone who is okay with being wherever she is, knowing that there is bettering available. someone who trusts. someone who trues. someone who centers. someone who knows. someone who traffics in peace. someone who redesigns. someone who surrenders to the greater who of who she is. someone who loves. someone who breathes in & out fully. someone who creates. someone who is. someone who can be. someone who evolves. someone who eases into the next room for improvement. someone who is already perfect. someone who is now. someone who is comfortable with contradiction. someone who embraces paradox. someone who is graceful in her becoming. someone who opens to the everpouring. someone who blesses & is blessed. someone who is willing to receive. someone with open hands & heart. someone who can find herself whenever she turns away. someone with ease. someone who can rest. someone who relaxes into her next moment. someone who loves herself. someone who understands what loving really is. someone who expects the best. someone who understands she doesn't have to do it all. someone who is willing to have it all. someone who joys. someone who plays. someone who works. someone who knows what the true work is. someone who practices. someone who sings. someone who is learning. someone who knows the power of the moment. someone who lives here now. someone who knows what the past is for. someone who stands firmly on the ground of who she has already been. someone who dreams. someone who desires. someone who wakens to each day as if it is the jewel. someone who will not quit. someone who knows when to let go. someone who lets things flow through her hands & her heart & her life, enjoying & fondling & appreciating & loving without grasping. someone who is.

(just wrote this in & I offer it to you unedited, along with another picture I did yesterday on the nook color)

Blog alternative:

206. Who are you? Explore the topic. (Remember, you don't have to share it with anyone. Be real. Open yourself to the possibility that you are already more than you are currently expressing. Who is that you?)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

lazy daisy puddin' & pi

another fun something
from my nook color

Today has been quite the busy lazy combo.
Got a lot done, including above picture.
General feeling, though,
lazy daisy puddin' & pi.

So I adieu you.

Blog alternative:
205. Be lazy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Triskadekafilly: the triple crown winner

Friday the thirteenth!
It's my lucky day.
Well, one of my lucky days.
(The others are yesterday, today & tomorrow...)
I don't always recognize the luck when it is happening,
but later -- usually on the soonerish side of later --
I can see it.
It has been my experience that any luck I've ever had
-- even if it seemed bad --
had a silver-lined cloak.
Someone I couldn't get ahold of?
Opportunity to make a decision on my own.
Something that wasn't available?
Opportunity to come up with another
-- sometimes better -- alternative.
Whoa -- I can feel a little better than that.
(Eventually. Grin. You don't have to
-- & sometimes cannot --
rush out of the state of woe,
but you don't have to live there forever.)
Someone you can't count on for (fill-in-the-blank)?
Great time to learn that you can count on yourself
& the energy that creates worlds
& the fabulous universe.
Let everyone else off the hook.
Bad luck is just a myth in an old Hee Haw skit.
You can claim it if you want,
but I don't recommend it.

Blog alternative:
204. Relabel some luck, whether recent or ancient. What did it get you? (You might have to get creative, but I guarantee there's something silver there.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

a piece of cardboard invited the stars to dance

so here's the cool new thing
tiffany's nook color
& an awesome app.
zach gave it to her
for her birthday
& she let me play with it.
might have to have me
one of those....

Blog alternative:
203. invite the stars to dance with your cardboard. or maybe use a marker.

moments, like fish

what swims like fish beneath the sea of each moment?

So there I was, ready to get ready to leave & it occurred to me:
easter weekend
that could only mean one thing:
so I went up to the sheraton bloomington & saw my peeps (& some actual peeps) & it was good.
also got to participate in the lady poetesses from hell reading, which went very well, from all accounts. so lovely to read my own poems & hear the poems of the other poetesses. (not all of whom are gendered feminine.)
so now what?
I was thinking about leaving tomorrow, but there are tornadoes in the way, so perhaps friday & saturday are good travel days. we shall see. in the mean time (or should I say "in the nice time") I will be here now, wherever here is.
& so
Blog alternative:
202. change a plan. plan a change.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the electramagnetic complex

having way too much fun
tracing my own hand
I do it again...

I noticed a typo in my blog alternative yesterday & it was too juicy & delicious to change. Electramagnetic spectrum. (That means you might kinda sorta have an electra complex, but whoever it is you're attracted to, be it father or father figure, it's pretty magnetic.)

Our 6 to 8 inches of snow yesterday pretty much melted into the ground as it fell. That means our girls' poker night is still on. Years ago I had my heart set on a 54 inch round pedestal table, reasoning--correctly--that 54 inches is the absolute best size for cards. With a 60 inch it's hard to reach the middle to rake in cards, if you take a trick in pinochle, or a pot, if you win one in poker. With a 48 inch, you can't seat enough peeps. Pedestal because then no one is bumping knees on table legs. Then, voila, cold frozy day in Minneapolis & my poetry buds & I were early to something & walking around a block & the only thing open was an antique/consignment store. 54 inch round pedestal table just waiting for me. & now Tiffany, daughter-in-law-to-be, likes to play hold 'em & doesn't get an opportunity to do so very often, so my poker buddies & her poker buddy are coming over. Zach will hang out in the garage...

Another event for today is a trip to the Crossings Gallery in Zumbrota to see the poet/artist collaboration show, always one of my favorites.

Blog alternative:
201. Venture into an art gallery. Write a poem about one of the paintings.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

No one here but us brainwaves: nothing to read here. move along. move along.

when you put your hand up
the stars reach for themselves
reborn as flesh

I have blogged so much over the last few years. You just wouldn't be able to keep up with it. Literally. Or, rather, fictively. Imaginally. Brain-wavery. This is to say that I keep coming up with topics to blog about & even phrases, sentence, paragraphs, as I'm driving, walking, eating, etcetera-ing. Be glad you don't have to read all that!

Blogging about blogging means I have reached a new low, given that I am a bit of an anti-blogger. Groan. Grin. Bear it. My biggest consolation in all this is that, since I blog (in a form that you can access) so infrequently that you are more likely to be doing some of the things I consider "real life" (as expounded in my blog alternatives) like building a little (or big) snowbeing, or walking a dog or writing an essay about your sister that she may be considered for the title "farm wife of america."

It is snowing in Rochester, Minnesota. My son Zach is studying & doing homework. Tiffany is bustling around emptying the garbage. Quote for the day, as she re-entered the house. "How craptastik is it out there. Jeez." Later in the week we will hardboil a dozen eggs & decorate them. Maybe two dozen. I will dedicated mine to "egg horror poem" which has garnered me well over a thousand dollars so far. maybe two thousand.

I am coming up (friday) on my 52nd birthday. Finally, I will be a full deck!

Blog alternative:
200. ding ding ding, you win! Consider everything that you win just by being here as this starstuff: air to breathe. horizons. the energy of the sun, feeding you & the planet & everything between & beyond so much energy we shade ourselves from it. water. tequila. the ability to create anything you want inside your mind. dog tails wagging. the difference between silence & sound. the electramagnetic spectrum.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A day well seized: celebration in hand-me-downs

dancing with the sun and sky
earth heart smiling

I wrote some poems at my cousin's concert at the Alberta Bair Theater in Billings, Montana. (Yes, I am still in Montana, where my dad is recovering from his third surgery.) (Third? you ask, quizzically, thinking--correctly--that he has but 2 carotid arteries. More on that later...) Meanwhile, back at the poem. My cousin Korine Fujiwara is a founding member of the Carpe Diem String Quartet, & omigosh, a concert with them is a day well seized. Korine has composed "Montana," which is so amazing. (Check them out on youtube. Anyway, here is a poem I wrote near the beginning of the concert. (The concert (& the newly-renamed Grandmaster Karlo Fujiwara Memorial Taekwondo Tournament) were dedicated to her father (my uncle) who died last summer.)

I Swear

I will get my cello strung & tuned
& learn to play at least one song

I will hug my father extra tight
when next I see him
(avoiding his neck, which is sore)

I will perform the music of my heart
which is peace & love & joy incarnate

I will go home
right now
a one-inch journey
to the center of my heart

I will melt into the music
of this moment

So, how do you have 3 surgeries when you only have 2 carotid arteries? Swell up like crazy one day & confuse the doctors & (after 4 days of not getting better quickly or consistently enough) have them reopen the incision to discover a big old hematoma that would have dissolved in 8 or 9 months on its own but in the meantime was painful & causing a deviated trachea & ear pain & such. He seems to be doing better & should be out of the hospital soon. About time--at the cafeteria today the cashier asked if I worked there since she'd seen me so often for so long. Dad & my cousin Aeron beat Mom & I twice in a row at 4-handed cribbage. We told the doctors he really didn't need extra blood flow to his brain...

I did a really good job of packing for this trip, which means I have worn everything I brought--even 2 long dresses, blue & green, which I wear as a reversible other-color-peeking-out-from-under duo--numerous times & I'm not sick of any of my clothes yet. I did get some hand-me-down jeans from my mom, & a shiny ruffly teal shirt & a pair of black sweatpants from my (R.I.P.) Great-aunt Lila, & 3 undershirts from (R.I.P.) Grandma Arla. Wardrobed!

Blog alternative:
199. Swear. &--after you're done with the profanity--swear to (fill-in-the-blank). Above poem may be used for exampling.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Carotid clippings

News from the waiting room.

My daddy is out of his surgery & looking good. Of course, after getting a carotid artery clipped & reamed out & reattached & having various tubes in arteries & throats (okay, one throat) & such, he's not extremely comfortable, but, hey--he's breathing & talking & able to wiggle everything the doctor thought he oughta be able to. Yay! His first incision has practically disappeared already in 3 weeks (my brother says he has miraculous healing properties) so we expect much the same.

Okay, so now I'm going to hand my computer back to my cousin's daughter, Samadhi. She's art-ing.

Blog alternative:
198. Samadhi suggests going to a waterpark. It may or may not be the weather for that, depending on where you live, so maybe just take a bath. Or drink a tall glass of water (I like mine without ice) with a sprig of mint or a splash of lime.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My peeps...

So here I am, in Montana again. 'tis been a while since I've posted. January. Good grief, as Charlie Brown would say. Perhaps is a good thing, but I do know there have been times I would have blogged had I not been doing that. Oh, well.

Why Montana, you ask? (Didn't know I could hear you, did you?) Well, I was going to be taking off on Sunday the sixth of March for Rochester, Minnesota, to take a SMART class (Stress Management & Resiliency Training, taught by Amit Sood, Md, head of complementary & integrative medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in case you're looking to enroll in same) when I got news from my parents that my dad had found out (at a Lifeline screening, which was not typically the sort of thing they'd opt for) that his carotid arteries (both of them) were 95% or so blocked & he was on his way to the emergency room.

I printed out the novel I was ready to send out (cross your fingers for The Secret Life of Suzuki England) & took off for Montana instead. 1044 miles the first day. 900plus the second. A new 2 day record. (My 1 day record is Memphis to Albuquerque, which is 1142, but the following day I only had to get as far as Phoenix.) He had the first surgery 3 weeks ago & is out with my mom delivering seed corn today. Second surgery scheduled for tomorrow. Complicated & dangerous but, hey, the first one was too & he did great with that. Definitely cross your fingers for my daddy...

After the first surgery, the vascular surgeon asked my mom to gather her peeps (not his words) in the small waiting room so he could report to us, as the entire surgery waiting room was full. She said everyone was here for my dad. "Is there anyone not here for John Hjelvik?" he asked. Not a single hand was raised. At the followup appointment he asked my dad if his support team was coming again & said he'd seen the waiting room full (30 or 40 people) but it was usually 10 families... My dad is well loved & he deserves every bit of it. (& my mom as well, I should say.)

I've played a bunch of cards, helped sort new baby calves & their mamas from the mamas-to-be in muddy corrals with my sister & her husband, visited with my ex-inlaws, helped mom move a bunch of my (r.i.p.) great aunt Lila's clothes out of a closet & on to Goodwill, where I hope someone will get some good use out of them. Sundry & various other things. Now I'm about ready to be home, after this surgery & a visit to my son & his fiancee & a bunch of friends in Minnesota. Funny, how you can be just fine with being away from home & some little internal switch toggles & you're ready to be back yesterday. It has been a really wonderful time with my folks. I can hardly imagine anyone having more fun with their parents than I just did, for several weeks & lots of hours.

Blog alternative:
197. Consider the mortality of someone you love deeply. Get as okay with it as you can. Consider that we all go out feet first & our job (until we're the ones feet-firsting-it) is to continue living & loving.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

little winter flower grass seeks lightning bug for illuminating conversation

little winter flower grass
stillwater river gorge
nye, montana
christmas day

I am sitting in a comfy chair in the window at Barnes & Noble. I finished my 750words & drank a green tea latte with whipped cream (the extra super giant size, whatever starbucks italian is for that. grin) & now I am writing to you.

My scottevest GoTo jacket is sitting in another comfy chair. Actually, it is rather sleepily reclining on this rainy day. My umbrella is at my feet, at the ready, bored by the dry weather in here. Someone asked if the chair was available & I said no. Not for scottevest's sake, but my friend Elizabeth will join me soon. My scottevest is just saving the seat for her. (But don't worry, scottevest, I will let you drape gracefully on the back of my chair when she arrives.) [a postscript to this section of the post: the woman who asked if my chair was available rather crankily (but kudos to her for asking for what she wanted) questioned whether the chair was actually being used. "It's been half an hour!" When I explained that my friend was indeed coming she said it wasn't fair to "hog the chair." I told her I wanted it back when my friend arrived & asked if she would like it. She said (even more snippily) "Yes, I would." So I gave it to her, with the caveat that I got it back when my friend arrived. grin.]

Did I tell you I got carded in Corydon, Indiana, on my way to Montana? That was fun. I can't even say it was just because they card everyone, because another table ordered alcohol after I did, & they didn't get carded.

Five days until the end of the two-faced month: forward & backward, outward & inward, past & future, present & accounting, now & zero, ephemera & infinite, etcetera & whatever is the opposite of etcetera.

I've been straightening up my space lately, both exterior & interior. Not a resolution but the next logical step. That reminds me that I usually write a letter to myself about the year just past & the year to come & here it is 26 days into the year to come & the letter is still in the mail. (or, perhaps more appropriately, in the female. I believe Mark Twain would agree that that is the lightning, rather than the lightning bug.)

I shall bid you ah-be, rather than ah-do, or even adieu.

Blog alternative:
196. Take 3 unrelated books that interest you (rather than 3 books on the same topic) & come up with an exercise that relates them--& you.
(Currently I have Train Your Brain Engage Your Heart Transform Your Life: A Two Step Program to Enhance Attention; Decrease Stress; Cultivate Peace, Joy and Resilience, and Practice Presence with Love by Amit Sood, MD MSc & Architectural Drawing Course: Tools and Techniques for 2D and 3D representation by Mo Zell & A Guide to Small Business Management by Hollingsworth & Hand)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Iowa didn't lie...

the chaos that is dogs
(title by Tiffany)

This little swirl is Mac & Cheese. Zach & Tiffany, my son & his fiancee, belong to these dogs. I recently belonged to them too, for one week. I did have good job security as a doggie pillow. The benefits were unique: besides a nice warm lap &/or legs &/or shoulders, I had my fingers licked clean, kind of an automated finger bowl. Cheese would have licked my mouth too, but I declined that particular "benefit."

I left Rochester this afternoon after a lovely visit with Zach. Tiffany was up at her apprenticeship training, but I got to hang with her yesterday. Zach & I went to breakfast at Cheap Charlie's, always a splendid thing. Trinh (could be spelling that wrong) practically picked me up when she saw me. I had the grilled ham & cheese with extra pickles! I had a couple bites of Zach's chicken noodle soup & he has some of my fries.

I won't bore you with everything I've eaten since I last posted, because that would include my entire Montana/Minnesota vacation. Suffice it to say that foods were eaten & drinks were drinked. Grin.

Highlights, in nonchronological order: Getting stuck for an extra day in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (the roads around Mitchell were nasty) & Jamestown, North Dakota. In Jamestown I had coffee at Babb's with my friend Debbie's daughter-in-law & hung at the public library, reading E=Einstein & some pop-quantum-physics. Hanging with many relatives & friends. Playing poker on Christmas day. Put in $5 & came out with $12! (Some baby games like 7 card no peek, but also a bunch of 7 card stud, sometimes with variations like roll your own little chicago & some texas hold 'em.) Sit down Christmas dinner for 22. Seeing Nick & his girlfriend Chloe for the second time in a month! Playing pitch with my parents. Playing pinochle with my parents & Nick &/or Chloe. I got both 1000 aces & 1500 trump while playing as my mom's partner & Nick & my dad finished off the pinochle games with 800 kings.

I came down south of Rochester on highway 63 through Waterloo, Iowa. Zach was very skeptical of my route, since that's a 2 lane road with usually lots of trucks, but 90 through Wisconsin was reporting snow & slick stuff & Iowa said, come on down, the roads are fine. Zach darkly suggested Iowa was lying, but his cynicism was not warranted. Fabulous roads. I made 348 miles (even though I did not leave until 2--& even got my tires checked & gas after that.) All the way to Hannibal, Missouri, boyhood home of Mark Twain.

The other fun thing was seeing the temperature go up up up as I drove into the winter night. Started off at 11 degrees & it was 22 by the time I reached Hannibal, some 6 or so hours later.

Blog alternative:
195. Provide a lap for a dog. Or a cat. Or a baby. Or just sit & hold your own inner child for a little while. Maybe tell a story. Maybe sing a lullabye.