Saturday, December 31, 2005

miracle on 34th

There is this street in Baltimore ... you really have to see it to believe it. We drove throught this year to look at the lights. This isn't your typical light display. No, it's not even what I was expecting. There is nothing classy or elegant in this display. This is the tacky competition. This is Hamden, hon. You have to see it to believe it. Check it out for yourself.

Holiday Hangover

It seems like I just couldn't get in the Christmas spirit this year (despite the good intentions and the amount of liquor consumed). I usually pride myself on being a good (even great) gift giver, but I had to return 3 gifts this year before the holidays even started, and my in-laws actually purchased the gift I had intended for them about 3 weeks prior to Christmas. Can we make Amazon wish lists mandatory?

We went to a traditional protestant service this year and missed midnight mass. I realized that it has been a long time since I have heard a "Come To Jesus" sermon -- and I really missed the homily we otherwise would have heard. No wonder so many people don't want to go to church. It grates when it's supposed to soothe. We only sang 2 songs I knew (Christmas Carols) and then there was one I had never heard of before. Somehow I thought we would do more singing.

When we got home, our final gift exchange was thwarted by two cases of Strep Throat -- my aunt and my thre-year-old cousin -- and a long work day for my other cousin. Of the five who were coming to exchange gifts, only one, my grandmother, was able to make it. Disappointing, but how can you fault them for being sick? We are extremely grateful they did not come to spread their germs.

I did finish a couple of books over the past week -- I have become a voracious reader to try and avoid having to talk to people and spreading my cynicism over the holidays. When my now defunct book club read The sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I somehow missed it. So I finally read it last week. I liked it. It was fun and a good reminder that "kids" don't just have "kid" problems -- they are as real to them as mine are to me. I didn't love the book so much as to want to read the 2nd one, however.

I also read Trading Up by Candice Bushnell (author of Sex and the City). I expected to feel really connected to the main character -- as I absolutely fell in love with the women of Sex and the City. Not so with this book. I liked it, but the story seemed to be so New York that if you don't live there, or have never been there, something is lost on you. It had too many hard edges for me. If anyone wants to read it, you are welcome to keep my copy.

Here's to the New Year, and getting back to the normalcy of life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Holidays Haikus

Traditionally my husband and I send a haiku for our Christmas greetings. Early in our marriage I heard this editorial on NPR, around this time of the year, which bemoaned the length and breadth of the traditional holiday letter which even in its enormity never really seemed to say much. The author posed the question: why not a holiday haiku, or limerick, or cinqain? And I thought we should take her up on it.

For 5 years we have written a haiku that tries to sum up the best and the worst of the year. This year, we decided that with three of us in the family, it wouldn't be enough just to dedicate 17 syllables. Fear not, we did not digress to the holiday letter. We simply expanded to three haikus -- one for each of us.

I hereby present the Harrison Haikus for 2005 (Merry Christmas):

Last winter's work yields
long hours at Purdue and
return to Paris.

Mon Ami becomes
"designs" with books and collage;
business is booming.

A sycamore tree
grows stronger at Split Rock Way
taller, smarter, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Curious Incident...

I just finished reading The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time. I have to say that this character, Christopher, is one of the most wonderful heroes I have ever encountered. I loved him the way I love Atticus Finch. He was quiet and honest and disarming. This book is a way of looking at the world that was at once alien to me and all too familiar. I highly recommend this book. The truth of human nature and how we perceive our world is beautifully done. A++

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Chicago Is My Kind Of Town

So, Chicago was amazing! I had the best show I have ever had with record purchasing, a fabulous booth display and some wonderfully interested and encouraging patrons. There was much grabbing for certain books in the last days of the show. The bonus: I am in for next year with no jurying! And the Sr. Vice Pres. of Marketing wants me to stay in touch for next year's marketing materials. I am still riding high!

It was so worth the struggle and pain of getting ready. I am glad I did it and will be doing it again. I even made enough to purchase a die cut machine which should cut my production time significantly. Hopefully there will be no more frantic calls to friends for help :). My friends were amazing. I couldn't have done it without them. Some days you actually win. This was one of those days.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Stolen Moment

Today on the way home from preschool, Hayes decided he wanted to eat at "the American place." Oddly enough, he meant Puerto Villarta -- the local Mexican joint. I can appreciate his confusion. So we called Daddy and went to lunch, just the three of us. I am so glad we did. It has been so easy to get distracted from just the three of us lately: I have my show, Richard is in West Lafayette 4 days a week, Thanksgiving and the family and the entertaining it brings. Just last night as we were all in the bed (yes, we still all sleep in the same bed, much to my mother's dismay), I was thinking about how I am going to miss him when I leave for my show this Wednesday. Despite the angst between Hayes and me these last couple weeks, I will be anxious to see him again when this show is over.

I'm so glad I listened to Hayes's idea this time. We needed that time. Hayes listened attentively to the Spanish being spoken; no one had a meltdown; there was a rousing game of I Spy before the main course. It was the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon, just the three of us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

We spent the weekend with my sister and brother-in-law. They always have these fun party games they play. This time we had to name the 5 living people we would have to a dinner party. Here is my list:

Jimmy Carter
Annie Lamott
Brian McLaren
Maya Angelou
Barbara Striesand

It occurs to me that Terry Gross should really be there too, as she could moderate the discussion much better than I. So, who would you invite?

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Chronicles

I've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time (I would never have admitted at Traders Point that I hadn't actually read them). I loved The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, was ambivalent about The Horse and His Boy, liked very much Prince Caspian, loved The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, and again was ambivalent about The Silver Chair. I have one more to go -- The Last Battle. Lewis had such a grasp on his theology; at least it seems so from his writings. Often, I too, want to be that sure. I don't know that I would actually allow myself to feel certain about it. Every time I have, it has somehow come back to bite me in the ass.

So I am enjoying the reading of such certain faith and far-flung adventures. It makes me happy that a grown man created such fanciful and amazing places. Reading all the chronicles together seems like some sort of stream of consciousness writing about what God is like and how we should and need to be interacting with God, even though we are likely as not to actually do what we should. There is a bit of comfort in knowing we all slip up, yet Aslan loves us even so.

I am actually sorry I waited so long to read them; and yet, I think I would not have appreciated them so much as now. Because I think I am reading them now as they were intended to be read: as a child. Not as theology or any complicated allegory. They are wonderful children's stories about a God who loves us and helps to guide us. Does it really have to be any more complicated than that? Perhaps our reading of the Holy Scriptures should often be more like that too. I just think God wants it to be simple. Did you hear the word easy? Too bad. I did too once. Not easy, just simple.

Friday, October 28, 2005

It's Official

Three things have become crystal clear to me this week:

1. I love Paris. Not that it was ever in doubt, but I want to live in Paris and speak fluent French surrounded by the art and architecture that somehow sings to my heart. The crazy thing is, I really believe I will live in Paris one day. It may be far off, but it seems quite real to me.

The trip was amazing, as we knew it would be. We stayed at a very Parisian 2-star hotel and ate at the lovely little Bistro next door for dinner. We avoided all the dog shit in the streets this trip. We discovered the Pompidou Center and were treated to a tour in English there. We wandered into Saint Chapelle which cannot be described or even shown off to its full glory in photographs. We slurped mussels on the Champs Elysses, the street that means Paris for Richard. We followed a school tour through the Cluny where the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries were every bit as lovely as promised. We also saw a Roman Bath there -- really, the one Emperor Justinian used. It was almost too old to comprehend. We stumbled upon the wine festival for the last remaining vineyard in Paris. We saw our old friend Notre Dame and I cried again upon seeing it. For me, this place is Paris. We mooned at each other and the lights and bridges of Paris from a glass covered boat while devouring a delicious 4 course dinner. We sat in silence in our taxi on the way to the airport, sad that we were leaving, but hopeful that it would not be too long before we were back in the city we love best in the world.

2. I am officially panic-stricken over the fact that I have committed to do a show in Chicago that is WAY out of my league. I have far too much to do and not enough time or money to get it all done. I have to purchase display materials, manufacture enough keepsake books to actually turn a profit, book a room for at least 4, maybe 5, nights in downtown Chicago. I have to order my packaging and business printing from the graphic artist before the end of the month. I have to get my paperwork turned in and most of it reads like it's written in another language. ( From what I gather, I will have to spend more money by the time this show is over and they won't be responsible for anything, at all.)

3. Halloween is only fun for kids. The whole dressing up and candy routine is heaven for the young and hell for the parents. Who can say what Hayes will decide to dress up as this year? He went the last two years as a baseball player (after we purchased the Peter Pan, John and Wendy costumes) and a "construction guy" (after we purchased the Goliath the Lion costume). I didn't buy a costume for him this year; I am not as dumb as it might first appear. He wanted to be a winner for his party at school this week. What does that look like, you ask? Apparently, a winner wears a Yankees jersey, a plastic medal around his neck and holds a trophy in his hand. Amazingly, his teacher said, "Look, Hayes is a baseball player who won the game!" I didn't know whether to be excited for him that she got it or to scream, "Don't encourage him!" And by the looks of Target, Halloween is only the warning bell that Christmas is right around the corner. Cheerful, no?

Saturday, October 22, 2005


So it's time to start the whole application process for Art Fairs in the area. I don't want to. I am avoiding it like the plague. I don't want to spend next summer holed up in my tent doing 25 art fairs. And really, I hate the rejections. I try to be brave, like when I was a little girl and my dad would buy me ice cream if I didn't cry at the doctor's office on immunization day; but it does really sting when I get a rejection letter. I hate that sinking feeling in the mysterious pit of my stomach. I got my first letter of the season today. I will not be at the Indiana State Museum show this year.

I think this is especially hurtful because I am going through a period in my artist life where I am sure this art I have been creating is not my own. I have simply been copying the style of some very talented artists this last year. I feel good about the art that I have created, but I don't really believe it is mine. I think the closest I have come to my own art is what I did in collage class to please my cranky teacher. And there you have it. My art is done in a way that I think will please others. I have to find my own voice.

I am making some progress in this area, by the way, but nothing I am yet willing to share. All I can say is that my sketch book is being filled slowly with awful and lovely pieces that are a complete (and I am saying utter here) departure from what I have been doing. But they make me smile. And this is really important to me.

So, the last thing that sounds engaging is to have my "imposter" art looked at and criticized by people who are trained in this area of visual art. I have to work through this before I am going to really be happy, and before I run screaming. I feel like the little girl at the slumber party who just wants to call her dad to come get her. Can I give up now? That would be easier than all this.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Never Say Never

So they say truth is stranger than fiction; I believe it more and more the older I get. I will update about Paris, but this was far to strange to leave off till later.

Upon arriving home, my mom met me with the news that my Grandmother's husband was leaving her and going back to Florida to "be with his family." Let me set this up for you: this is the side of my family that feeds on drama. Soap Operas are written about them, not for them. But this little bit of news was so far from anything I had expected it knocked me for a loop.

These two people are in their 80s. He is not altogether there -- not dementia really, more like stupid is as stupid does. They recently moved out of the house they were living in (with my aunt and her family--another long story) and into an assisted living facility. The best I can gather is that there was a fight about who should say thank you for what and the elder couple moved out 2 weeks later. This caused my aunt to have to file for bankruptcy. Now that the old coot has moved back to "his family" (as if he was never part of the family here?) my grandmother will be, you guessed it, moving back in with the same aunt she was living with a mere month ago.

I have to say that I feel very sorry for my Grandmother. She is obviously hurt and I don't wish that on her. But the ridiculous nature of this is beyond me. Who knew that 80-year-olds went through the effort of getting divorced?? Unreal.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Off to Paris

I am done with Heidelberg. I think I have walked the Hauptstraß at least half a dozen times. I am not saying that I wouldn't come back to Germany, but I am saying I have seen all there is to see in Heidelberg and I am anxious to move on to Paris. T minus 62 minutes and counting! We take the overnight train tonight. I am feeling glad to be going where I understand half of the language and can get by on my own. I felt like an idiot having to ask for English all the time here. Oh well. I hope to see the Unicorn Tapestries and do some shopping at the Galleries de Lafayette -- both of which we missed while there the last time. Maybe St. Chapelle too. We are booked for a river cruise on Saturday. That should be the icing on the cake!
Will check in when we get home.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I am typing this on a German keyboard and not all keys are where you might expect them to be. I have had a great day today sailing on the Neckar and visiting a small village called Neckarsheim. I visited the remains of an old decaying schloß (castle) and passed a gorgeous one still inhabited by the nobility. Sorry, no commoners allowed. I have been fending well for myself. Yesterday i hiked up to the Heidelberg schloß and the gardens -- which in October are not much to see. But the views have been marvelous and shopping has been so much fun. i am anxious to get the Paris where I can at least speak something of the language. I understand nothing here and trying to muddle through can be exhausting.

That's it for now, my time is running short. Love to those at home!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Conspiracy Theory

Why is it that on the day you set aside, say yesterday, to prepare for a trip to, say Germany, the universe decides to conspire against you?

I set up a play date for Hayes with one of his best friends; the day before we are to play, we get a call that said friend is sick and we won't be able to play after all. Damn! I was hoping for that time to pack Hayes without his constant input. Oh well...I hope she feels better soon.

I oversleep and don't get the chance to do my morning journaling, which is a vital component to the Artist's Way. I'll just have to get it done later. By the way, this is always a bad sign for me, the get it done later thing.

I decide I had better get myself ready for the day. The toilet is in revolt -- 15 minutes of searching for the plunger and taking care of whatever disagreement the plumbing may have had, I am back to my morning routine.

Hayes and I are late getting to school because I forgot to ask him to pee and he decides he can't possibly wait until we get to school, so we stop at the Starbucks to take care of business. I have stopped feeling guilty that we don't buy anything as the line is far too long to wait in. Hayes realizes that we are late and he won't get time on the playground before the day begins. This causes tears and nail biting. I may loose my mind.

I arrive home with the intention to pack and get an anxious call from my husband -- would I please call the travel agent to get the overnight train tickets? I thought that was taken care of long ago. No, it's not easy to do it online. Fine, no problem, I can do it. Now we have to pay for overnighting them, but nonetheless, they are purchased and will be in hand.

In my packing frenzy I find the zipper of my new toiletry case is stuck -- filled with cotton to be precise, from the copious cotton balls I tried to stow in the upper compartment. My bad. I'll have to fix it when I get back from picking up the boy. I am late now, again. I hate to be late.

Hayes whines all the way home, as I have made the huge mistake of telling him there are some surprises for the trip to Baltimore. He needs to see them now; he must see them now. It seems as if his universe might cave in if he doesn't get the chance. Arrgh!

Finally a break! Hayes decides he will, in fact, take his Leap Pad to Baltimore. Thank heaven; it's the most versatile and fun toy we own.

The last load of laundry does get done and dinner is ready by 5:30 and it seems miraculous that I have packed for Hayes and myself today despite all the craziness surrounding us.

Tomorrow I am getting up on time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

In Absentia

Much has been going on, but with little time to write. So here are the main lessons that life has been teaching me lately:

1. Don't count your chickens before they hatch; Penrod was on an unfortunate weekend. Sales were extremely low, but there is hope for next year. We shall see...

2. Synchronisity is real -- listen; I have purchased and accordion to alter. I mentioned to my DEAR FRIEND, Amy, what a wonderful thing it was to see someone playing the accordion (we went to a concert together). She told me it would be the coolest thing to alter and that I should do it. The idea appealed to me, but really, I wasn't sure I could do it. Then, I put in my newest Netflix movie (Bread and Tulips) and discovered it was about an accordion playing woman. The next night we sat down to dinner and turned on the music only to hear German accordion music! Sunday I got on eBay and purchased an accordion. I'll be altering it right after we get back from Germany/Paris! Amy says if I hadn't purchased one, the next day someone would have shown up at my door selling accordions.

3. An open mind is an open door; I have been stressing over two things lately: Germany (as in, will I be ready and where did I put my passport?) and my art (as in, what is my true artistic voice anyway?). So, to combat the German stress I made copious lists, did massive research, lost or misplaced most of the information and decided to let the chips fall where they may. Why can't a person just do what she finds interesting? I have a few addresses, two great guidebooks and know where the train station will be. That's enough. It has to be. Also, I am proud to say that my dop kit as shrunk to be 8" x 5" x 5". I will have room for both French and German wine! To combat the art stress I have begun reading The Artist's Way. I thought it was going to be this strange new age approach to finding the artist within. Actually, it has a very Christian bent with some very practical tips and exercises. I've just started but I hope to be "unblocked" as the author puts it, in my beliefs about my own art and in experimenting with my own voice. Will keep you posted.

4. Happiness is contagious; my dad has lost over 80 lbs. now and is wearing pants that he no longer has to find at the big and tall store. Just writing that makes me want to weep. It has been such a long hard slog. He is so happy, and the rest of us are grinning too. Yesterday he went to his school to deliver apples to the teachers (his September tradition) and the secretary followed him down the hall thinking that he was a visitor who hadn't checked in. He's been teaching in that school for 18 years and she didn't recognize him! I can't communicate the change in him both physically and emotionally. He's a new man.

Enough for now. Perhaps I'll blog from the continent!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Man-Made Disaster?

I recieved this article from a friend today. It got me thinking about the state of things, not just in New Orleans, but in America in general. I'll post the full article and my response here -- so it'll be long. But hey, it's my blog right? Love your thoughts, if you are so inclined...

An Unnatural Disaster:
A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State
by Robert TracinskiSep 02, 2005

It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.

If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.

Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicles, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists--myself included--did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.

The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong. The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.

The man-made disaster is the welfare state. For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency--indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:

"Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.

"The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire...."

Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders." 'These troops are...under my orders to restore order in the streets,' she said. 'They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.' "

The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows National Guard troops, with rifles and armored vests, riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.

What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Super Dome? Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?

My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. "The projects," as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)What Sherri was getting from last night's television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of "the projects." Then the "crawl"--the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels--gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city's public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city's jails--so they just let many of them loose. There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations--that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit--but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals--and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep--on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters--not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American "individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. They don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.

But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.

The welfare state--and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages--is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.

For the record -- I was appalled by this article.

My Reply:

I used to work in Camden NJ -- a place I am sure could rival New Orleans in numbers of welfare "parasites," as this article puts it, who filled the city. What strikes me is this thought that people who subsist on public assistance are somehow people who “lack initiative” and who wear a mantle of “self-induced hopelessness.” In all my time in Camden, the people I saw and worked with were holding down two and three jobs each; their kids were forced to help raise their siblings because mom or dad or the other adults living in the house (or car) were not there to do so -- because they were working. This wasn’t what they wanted for their families, it was what they could manage. In spite of al this, they saw a glimmer of hope, if not for themselves, at least for their children. They believed, as hopeless as it seemed to me, that the neighborhood wouldn't eat up their children.

No doubt there are people who abuse the system – in fact, I would bet that we have all done something to the benefit of our own lives that was not to the benefit of the whole. We are human and humans tend to be good at self-seeking. But I am tempted to agree with the Toronto Globe & Mail that American individualism has contributed to this man-made disaster. Why don't these people who live with public assistance have property, or personal wealth? I firmly believe it has much to do with the fact that we like white, middle-class people working for us. We like the known and those who speak a foreign language or have not had the privilege of education are just not like us. It is a rare white-collar employer who will take a chance on one of these prospective employees. They are expensive people to hire -- they need some education and some training in most cases. They need to be educated about the work culture and what it means to hold a job. But the way I see it, these are not reasons to dismiss someone. In fact, what better thing could we do than help another human being?

Americans just aren't trained to seek out this helping opportunity unless something horrific happens, like Katrina. On any given day we seek our own best interests to the detriment of others. We just like to call it being "business savvy" or "turning a profit". I, too, think we have to stop blaming the government completely. We have a lot of work to do. Perhaps we can start the rebuilding process in more ways than simply with sheet rock and steel. Had these people felt a part of America from the start, there would have been no man-made disaster to debate.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Book Review: Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes

I finished a truly wonderful piece of YA fiction this week: Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes. It was recommended to me by my sister, who has unusually good taste in YA fiction. This book really grappled with the issues of faith and courage that we all face. It's about standing up for yourself and others and loving, truly loving your neighbor. The author, Chris Crutcher, is pithy and honest; a perfect combination for youth fiction. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good read.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Naming of Things

Hayes has been so fun for me to be around this year. I keep remembering what Elaine said about a year ago, when I uttered something similar - "Just wait till 4. I thought I loved three, but I adore 4!" He is so much more self sufficient (which comes with it's own I-can-do-it battles) and even more verbal than before (we carefully choose our "at home words"), if such a thing is possible.

In that vein, he has started naming his stuffed toys. It used to bother me that he wasn't interested in them, even in naming them -- I wonder why that is? But never fear; Hayes has named many more of them to date. Please note, none of Hayes's brilliant names can compare to my niece Eleanor's doll Container (she just liked the way it sounded). Nevertheless, these are our new-found friends:

Christopher Bear -- who was the only named friend last year, named in honor of Hayes himself, make no mistake.

Uncle Pepper Bunny -- who has his own wonderful blog entry explanation

Jumpy -- what else? His stuffed frog puppet that actually croaks

Lovey -- not really a stuffed friend, but a cricket we found in our kitchen (not that I was in love with finding it mind you)

Tiki Waki the Polynesian Snowman -- I know, it's too good to be true isn't it? I think it's my personal favorite at the moment.

And I thought it was tough naming each collage. I should have been asking Hayes all this time. He's so amazing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Ready or not, I have 34 pieces of art to take to Penrod. I feel that this is good, but that I should try to do even more. On one hand, this makes me feel like a crazy person, and on the other, it makes me so happy I am creating art. Saturday is the big day. It is far too late to try and shield myself from high expectations. I think that day died when my acceptance letter came in the mail. I am anxiously awaiting the big show.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Altered Lives

Spent some time with my dear friend Amy last night altering books and drinking Napa Valley wine. It was delightful! We had a chance to talk about what we believe and how the Katrina disaster along with the pandemonium in Baghdad makes life seem like there will never be any good news again. And yet I believe all these things are shaping us; for the good and the bad we are being altered by those things around us. That's why it is so important to have good friends (especially those with good wine) to talk with and find comfort in. We will have to see what sorts of conversations we are having a year or so from now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Truth Stranger Than Fiction


Living in Indiana, one doesn't often think about experiencing a Tropical Depression, but alas, Katrina has swung her way into the Ohio Valley and we are inundated with rain. Amazing. Hayes and I have spent much of the day curled up under the quilts watching movies. What better way is there to spend a rainy afternoon? Well, possibly making art.... They say Katrina will be out of here by tomorrow. Strange but true.

Monday, August 29, 2005

For the Record


I have been trying to get healthy by setting some exercise goals for myself. I am up to walking (with jogging interspersed) 2 miles a day, most days. I am hoping to get up to 3 miles by the time we leave for Germany (October 3). It seems to be doing nothing on the weight front, but at the very least I seem to be increasing my distance. We shall see what September brings....

Speedy and Public Trial (VI)

Amendment VI : In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, whick district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Quartering (III)

This is the latest in the series: Quartering -- Ammendment III: No soldier shall,in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Search & Seizure (IV)

From ammendment IV

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Bill Of Rights

I started a new series of collage yesterday. It rather surprized me, and yet it makes perfect sense. I was originally thinking about doing a series with birdcages: what it means to be caged and how we allow ourselves to be caged. So I began brainstorming about ways we end up in cages. The more I wrote, the more I realized that I was writing about our basic American rights. I also should mention that I just recieved my ACLU card in the mail and have been hearing all the news about how Iraq just can't get a Constitution drafted. It occured to me that it might be appropriate to express my understanding about our rights and freedoms through a series of collage on the Bill of Rights.

For those of you who were not paying attention in high school, the Bill of Rights are the first 10 Ammendments of the Constitution. You can find them here. The three I have posted are called: Freedom of Expression (I); Jury of Your Peers (VI); and Peaceably Assemble (I), respectively. Each is 5 x 7. The number in parenthesis is the number of the Ammendment in which these principles are found. I am in the process of working on Search & Seizure (IV) with a hand and some keys. I'll try to post it when it is done. This series has been thought provoking and enjoyable all at the same time. I could never have predicted it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Over 53 years of Friendship

Tonight I had dinner with my favorite people. I know it's not nice to say that in front of other people, but the truth is, I love them most and best. They are the people I choose and I choose them consitently. They love me because I am me and never expect me to change for them, and yet they never seem to freak out if I do decide to change, as long as I do it for me. And I feel exactly the same about them.

We covered the gamut tonight in conversation too; all the things you are never supposed to talk about, we did: religion, politics, criminal histories, and some other things like moose, school and crushes. We figured out that among us we have 54 years of friendship, just with each other. I can only hope for more. The martinis were free (and free-flowing) and the food was out of this world. I think I am officially changing my Meyers-Briggs score to ENFP instead of my previous INFP -- I am so energized and high from being with friends that I can't possibly sleep right now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Some days a girl just feels like she's getting a hell of a lot done, you know? I've been having one of those weeks.

I currently have 23 pieces framed and ready for Penrod, have taken care of all pertinent school (for Hayes) business, have met the new baby, visited with family and long-lost friends, sold a collage, shopped for groceries, reserved a hotel and river cruise in Paris and it's only 4:30 on Tuesday!

And to top it all off, Wanda is back; she's my muse. I think she was on a world tour, because I have been on a journey kick ever since I got back into the studio. It has also come to my attention that my favorite art magazine is taking submissions with a Paris theme! Here's to hoping because I am definitely submitting something. And the ISABA is asking for submissions for altered books as travel journals -- those of you who have seen my Paris book know what I am thinking of submitting to them. Maybe I will actually be published this year. It was on the goal sheet, after all.

I'm off to do more art. Strike while the iron is hot, I always say. Cheers!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Coincidence? Perhaps...

About two weeks ago, Richard asked if Hayes and I would be interested in going with him to Baltimore. He has this interview and I actually fly free with him since he does so much travel. Of course I said yes, as we have a new little niece to meet, and we made all the necessary arrangements.

Low and behold I get an e-mail from a longtime friend that she will be visiting a second longtime friend in DC this weekend. I must say here that there have been many attempts to meet in the last several years and none, I repeat none, have actually worked out. That, however, is about to change. We have scheduled a meet-up with all but one of our family members present for this very weekend. I can't believe it is actually working out! I love the way this has all fallen into place. Grace, definitely has a hand in it. So not only will we get to visit with the family, we will also get to see these people we haven't seen for ages. I can't wait!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Post Show Euphoria


Spent the day at Ellenberger Park in Irvington and met some amazing people! This was the 4th Irvington Guild of Artists show and I had a fabulous time. I met altered book makers, ATC makers, found out about a collage exhibit in the Murphy building in Fountain Square, met wonderful artists and patrons alike. I even sold a few things. I can't believe I was so pumped up and energized by this show. Can it be that I am becoming an. . . say it isn't so. . . extrovert?! Only time will tell. I can't wait to do this show again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dad Update

Quick update to say that Dad came home Sunday. He's been in a lot of pain, but yesterday seemed to turn a corner. He's been walking around the cul-de-sac 3-5 times a day. He announced yesterday that he was on the scales and has lost 30 lbs. since Friday (the day of surgery)! I think that's a bit unusual, but I'm very excited for him.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The 7:30 Bedtime


I'm totally sold. This 7:30 bedtime is marvelous. When the witching (was that bitching?) hour arrives, we are safely on our way to bed. I, on the other hand, was able to watch a movie and have a conversation on the phone without being interrupted once. I'm a believer; big, big believer. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a sleepover in Hayes' room I must be off to.

Travel Bug


I admit it: I want to see the world, and yes, first I'd like to see Europe. I taught Western Civ for 7 years and studied it unceasingly prior to teaching; I want to see and touch and smell the places that were so frequently part of my life if only in the realm of thought. So imagine my elation when Richard came home and said that we had the opportunity to visit Heidelburg, Germany with a work related convention that he will be attending! True, Germany was not exactly on the top ten list -- I had ideas about Italy and Greece and Trukey and Spain and Slovakia... but to travel to Europe at all seems like a gift from the gods. And it so happens that this is a boarder town with France and I absolutely know how to take a train.

We'll be getting 6 whole days to enjoy life without Bush, life immersed in a different language, life with exquisite beer and wine. I will be free to explore on my own for three entire days. This seems like a fairy tale. I get to see Castles and Cathedrals and little shops and squares and ... ephemera! I have noticed that my collage takes off after traveling. I'm not sure if it's the freshness of a new place or the relaxed atmosphere without the pressures of home. It doesn't matter. I'm looking forward to this with great anticipation. And if it includes a weekend in Paris I may have actually died and gone to heaven. But we are still working on that.

Sunday, August 07, 2005



Dad called this morning and reported that they are releasing him at noon today! I'm so glad he'll be home. I think that he is ready to be out of the hospital. Mom and Richard will be going up to get him. I'll be going to the grocery for a few odds and ends we still need. We are about to embark on a whole new journey together. You know how traveling with family can be...ugly, joyful, angry and exciting all at the same time. I am almost more anxious about this new life than I was about the surgery itself.

Saturday, August 06, 2005



The last four days have been a whirlwind! Today is Hayes' 4th birthday. We had a Thomas the Tank Engine Party Thursday with 7 kids and their respective adults. I was simultaneously enjoying their antics and extremely thankful that this only happens once a year! If you've never watched the kids you love gather around an elephant that shoots butterflies out of his trunk, well my friend, you have never lived. I love my nieces, and it goes without saying that I think my own child is brilliant and entertaining, but when the 3 of them get together, there is this synergy that sort of explodes into peals of laughter and very noisy feet. It's wonderful to watch, but you have to be up for it. Little sleep and anxiety are not the right combination for it. Thankfully, I think they were rather oblivious to any adult irritation with them. I love having them here, I really, really do.

I saw my dad this morning and he is doing well. We actually walked a mile together; I am so impressed with his determination to make this work. We also found out that he can have one of his pain meds (he's on 2) every hour. I think this will be helpful. It appears that the pain is the worst thing for him right now. We are hoping that he will get to come home tomorrow, although they still weren't sure this morning. In fact, while we were walking the halls this morning, we ran into another patient who had surgery yesterday morning (the same time as dad). She was excited that she is going home today. My dad said, "Not me; I think I'll stay a little longer." And you know, I think he should. It is my personal theory that one should never be anxious to leave the place where they will wait on you hand and foot.

I think Hayes and I will be off to see him in another hour or so. He said he's like to see the kids if they'll come. I think he's a bit lonely without someone there. Mom has been there for several hours today and Jody will have been by with the kids; Richard is going up to watch "the game" (that would be the Colts) with him tonight. At least they have an open-ended visiting policy on the Bariatric floor -- the hours for visiting are unlimited.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Waiting... is over

So, everything looks good! No complications and he is in his own room. When Mom and I left around 2 p.m., Dad was up and walking. They said this was critical and I knew he would have to, but I was still amazed at how brave and strong he was to do even half a lap (about 75 ft.) before he had to go back to his room for more pain meds. Let the easy breathing begin. (for us, at least)


So in the last two days I have become more and more nervous for Dad. In fact, this morning I thought I might have to swallow the entire pregnancy-sized bottle of Tums, my stomach was so nervous. I finished Anne Lamott's new book Plan B, and love her writing style, but now I feel lonely without her and the aunties. I have however found an internet terminal here at the hospital and think I might be able to kill a couple of hours. I no longer need the Tums, now I just need to find patience. Why don't they have treadmills in here so I can burn off this excess energy? Will keep you posted....

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pre-Op Class

Went to Pre-Op Class yesterday for the Bariatric Surgery my dad is having Friday. It was long! It was amazing to understand what the Drs. will be doing to his body. And further still, what he will be able to ingest and won't be able to ingest. I am so glad I went. Mom is in Michigan and comes home Thursday, so it was good to have another person there to hear what the nutritionist and the nurse were saying. There is a complete binder with instructions for preparing your body for surgery and what to do upon your arrival at home. They also took him down to only 5 medications and not all of them are daily. This is perhaps the most remarkable part of the entire day.

The thing is, I am really happy for my dad to be doing this. I know that the rest of the family is feeling uptight, nervous, anxious and with good reason. They usually don't do this for people over 60, but he is a good candidate and otherwise pretty healthy. It will be a huge lifestyle change for him. It's exactly the kind of thing that he has needed. Already he is taking better care of his body, exercising regularly, taking care of ailments that I think he may have let go in the past.

I know that many people believe (my mother included) that if you just have enough will-power and stick-to-it-iveness that you shouldn't have to go to such drastic measures. But I am witness to a man's (at least) 30 year battle with weight loss and gain. I have seen my dad at 180 lbs. and I have seen him at well over 300 lbs. I know that he needs something drastic and different to believe that he really has a fighting chance to keep this weight off. If this surgery is the mental edge he needs, so be it. If it is the physical edge he needs, all the better.

My hope is that he will be able to live a long and healthy life. I really look forward to his prolonged health, having him on the sidelines of Hayes' future sports, having him there to watch Hayes graduate from high school, having him around to ask about business decisions and family life. And if he no longer has to be discriminated against as a fat person, halleluia. I can't imagine what this will do for him. It will be so amazing for him to not have to worry about stairs, booths, theme parks and airplane seats and a host of other things that are simply hurdles in everyday life. Never mind what this could do to his chance of getting a new job, being seen as capable. I think it can open doors that nothing else could, and because it has worked for so many people, he is dedicated to it's outcome.

But I guess we'll have to wait until Friday for all this to really begin.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

So Long George


Thanks to Amy K and her ingenious blog, I now have a new countdown clock on my blog too. Jody -- I know you want one! When I was practically inconsolable after the last election Richard spoke these words of comfort: There can only be 4 more years and then he is done for good; it's why we have term limits. And it does give me hope to see that trem expressed in days and hours and minutes. It won't be forever will it? With the state of our country I just don't think we can afford to have another presidency like this one. We need someone with a global perspective that does not include killing people for oil (despite one's hippocrytical stand on the value of life); someone who will see that global warming and the lack of health care in the country are far more dangerous than the threat of terrorism. Ok, that's enough for ranting for today. I like the hopful little clock on the sidebar.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Collage & the Muse

You know, sometimes a collage just jumps out of my head and I love how it looks. The Button Workers Saturday Night is one such piece. I must have finished this one in less than 3 hours. Highly unusual for me. I was inspired by 1.) James Taylor's song "Millworker" 2.) the Cafe Martin replica poster hanging in our bedroom and 3.) the dressmakers tissue on the background. And it came out just as perfectly as I had imagined it. So satisfying.

On the other hand, I can moodle and rummage and finally get a half-baked idea to work itself out, and, in the end, I am still not happy. Mermaid Encounter, specifically is what I refer to here. (I'll post a scan once I fing the digital camera cord!) How can this happen? It looks so amateurish and unfinished; is it really art? It certainly looks poor. Is it the ethereal photo I used? Is it the glitter? But I was so sure the glitter was going to be awesome. It worked on another collage really well. Maybe it's the frame -- I've been trying to find just the thing for that frame for months. Still nothing. Grrrr. I suppose it happens to the best, but it still frustrates me that I spent almost all day putting it together, trying this and that, and this is the end result. Damn that muse -- what is she doing when this happens? It must be cocktail hour somewhere.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Book Review: Blankets


OK, so I admit it: I can't put the books down this summer. I just finished reading my first graphic novel. I am not sure what to do with it really. I didn't love the story, but it resonated with me. I loved the graphic format. There was just no resolution, no purpose. Why was the story written, and further, why was is published? I suppose everyone has a story to tell, but I think this is feeding the memoir-mania of our country's reading public. It seemed like a mediocre story that would be better suited to a kitchen table or late night pseudo-philosophical discussion rather than honoring it with a book. Perhaps that's just my bibliophile snobbery emerging. So, I give this 3 of 5 starts. As my sister might say, it's a good one to have under my bibliophile belt, but I won't be re-reading it any time soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Book Review: Gotham Diaries


This book was written for a reader like me. I love the social-climbing opera. I love it when nice guys finish first and the bad guys get what's coming to them. I know, I know, typical and pulpy for fiction, but it was a great read! And as it was co-authored by Spike Lee's wife, Tonya Lewis Lee (and Crystal McCrary Anthony) it held an added attraction. It's not a new story, but it's a fabulous twist on a plot that works really well. It reminded me of Social Crimes, by Jane Stanton Hitchcock. I love a good intrigue. There is something wonderful, too, in this book about a woman finding her way in a culture that doesn't resonate in her. I loved it: 5 of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Reese Nicole

OOO Baby Posted by Picasa

She's adorable, isn't she? Born July 8th to Dawn (Richard's sister) and Bob. We can't wait to see her in person.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Book Review: Harry Potter 6


I freely admit it: I am an avid Harry Potter fan. From the day I heard TR Reed, London correspondant, on NPR raving about this new sensation of a book, I was hooked. I went to Barnes and Noble that day and requested this Harry Potter book. The attendant was not sure what I was wanting (imagine that!) and was wondering where I had heard about it, as several other people had been in that day with similar requests. I had to order the book. Once it was in my hot little hands, I devoured it. I loved it so much I read it to my 6th graders the next year -- Harry was the perfect age for them. At Christmas we finished the first year and they wanted more. We finished the second year by Summer and some of them had even asked for their own copies for Christmas. I found this remarkable as I knew most of them would only be getting one or two presents that year. Unfortunately, Harry Potter didn't go over quite as well in my next VERY CONSERVATIVE (might I add out-of-touch) Christian school.

Every time there is a new Harry Potter I have this tiny little fear that wells up: will it really still be good? Will JK Rowling still be able to carry the story, provide a twist I didn't see coming? The more the press promotes the book, the more cynical I become, yet there has not been a year in Harry's life that I haven't loved and been surprised by. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Price is no exception. I devoured the book in 48 hours (as is my habit) before which I turned an absolute deaf ear to the publicity surrounding the novel. I loved how there was almost no gap between the end of 5 and the beginning of 6. I was completely taken aback by the ending, although I did have the Half-Blood Prince figured out correctly. I have heard questions about the 7th book -- will it actually happen? I can only hope yes. I loved this book as Harry takes the final steps in growing into a man.

I give this book an "O" for Outstanding (see the scale for Ordinary Wizarding Levels or O.W.L.s)! Thanks for another fantastic summer read JK Rowling!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hotter Than ...

It really is one of my worst Up North fears -- 2 solid weeks of temps in the 80s and 90s with no end in sight. We usually come up to the lake to cool off, get out of the beastly hot Indiana weather and relax in the cool breezes by the lake. It is for this reason that we have no air conditioning at the Lakehouse. Last summer we spent the days in jeans and sweatshirts. Golfing was pleasant and the idea of having to put on a bathing suit was blissfully absent -- yes, even in July. No such luck this summer. And only a trace of rain in the last few weeks. In attempting to cool off, we took the kids to the sandy part of the lake and went swimming (as much as they would). Now, in addition to being hot, I have a scorching sunburn on my belly -- the arms and chest are tanning nicely now. Ah, summer. The melted collage was certainly an omen. Perhaps returning home will not feel so bad. They keep saying there will be rain here soon -- we can hope, at least.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Harrison's Index -- Apologies to Harper's

  • 200 - the number of minigolf holes played by Hayes since July 1
  • $185.00 - price for 2 to charter fish on Lake Michigan -- kudos to Mom and Dad
  • 64 - lbs. of salmon caught on aforementioned charter -- some grilled, some smoked!
  • 81 - golf holes played by Harrisons since July 1
  • 25 - minutes Josh and Richard played with fire in order to entertain the family with super fireworks display!
  • 60 - minutes waited for lousy local fireworks in Frankfort, MI
  • 1 - deer hit on the way to lousy fireworks display (sad, yes, but no damage to the people or the van thank heaven)
  • 16 - number of boats in the 4th annual Long Lake July 4th Boat Parade (a fun and tacky tradition I hope continues for some time)
  • 60 - number of guests at annual Long Lake Cookout following boat parade
  • 4 - lbs. of pasta salad consumed at cookout
  • 15 - minutes of rain experienced at said cookout
  • 5 - total number of canoe trips this summer on the lake
  • 8 - number of antique photographs purchase
  • 2 - number of new collages completed since July 1
  • 3 - number of books Amy has read since July 1
  • 2 - new baby announcements: Congrats to Julie and Chris; Baby Reese arrived July 8 -- Congrats to Dawn and Bob!
  • 1 - number of suitcases left by one funny sister upon departing the Lakehouse
  • 3 - number of art projects Amy & Eleanor have completed together
  • $2.50 - price per gallon of regular unleaded in Beulah, MI
  • 1 - number of time-share weeks Amy wants to purchase in Hilton Head
  • 2 - miles walked by Amy and Hayes to see beautiful Lake Michigan
  • 5 - number of Superman icecream cones consumed by Hayes
  • 24 - number of ice pops consumed by Hayes
  • 1 - average number of cellular phone indicator bars displayed on phones in Honor, MI
  • 1 - days of rain since July 1 (could you actually call it rain?)
  • 4 - number of wild turkey sightings since July 1
  • 230 - miles traveled locally
  • 7 - number of scrapbook pages completed since July 1
  • 0 - number of TV channels received at the Lakehouse
  • 0 - internet accessibility
  • 1 - NPR stations available in Honor, MI

Missing civilization and loving the seclusion!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Lesson Learned

I have been exhibiting at fairs this summer feeling more and more confident: about my products, my experience, my preparation, my interaction with other artists and patrons. Today I had a first. I work in several media and have only recently fallen in love with beeswax. I've been showing "Frank & Helen" as several fairs and they always get a lot of attention. The temperature at today's fair neared 90. When I finally realized what was happening, it was too late. The entire collage had peeled away from the canvas! Buttons and leaves were on the table where it was propped up and the postcards and photo were hanging in a gooey mess. So "Frank & Helen" will be attending only indoor shows from now on. I do believe the damage is repairable, this is the joy of working with beeswax -- you can simply melt things off and reapply them if you don't like it. What an adventure. On the upside, my 2 most expensive pieces have found homes with people who absolutely adored them. Special thanks to Amy K who was the muse who helped my finish "Wounded Soldier."

Friday, June 24, 2005

Spamalot Alot


Richard has introduced me to the Spamalot soundtrack. For those of you still unfamiliar with it, it's the new smash hit on Broadway -- Monty Python's Holy Grail set to music starring Tim Curry (of the Rocky Horror Picture Show), Hank Azaria (or the Simpsons and The Bird Cage) and David Hyde Pierce (of Frazier). It won Best Musical at the Tony's this year.

I must admit I have never been a huge fan of Monty Python. I think I just wasn't jaded enough to appreciate it back in college. Or perhaps I felt as if actually enjoying it would be too sinful. Whatever the case may be, I have become obsessed with listening to this soundtrack. I even choose to listen to it over NPR -- that, my friends, is a strong persuasion! Naturally, Hayes is in the van with me most times I have it on.

Last night as we were putting Hayes to bed I was humming a bit of "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life." I stopped, mid-measure and Hayes immediately took up the tune. He didn't miss a beat. I asked him what his favorite song is. He thought long and hard about it and then said, "I'm Not Dead Yet." Richard and I both chuckled and said, "Great choice!"

We have to go and see this show. I just must see the "His Name Is Lancelot" number in person. Hank Azaria is on of my favorite actors. I can't get enough of him in The Bird Cage.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Uncle Pepper Bunny


As Hayes gets older he is growing more and more attached to his toys. And he has the memory of an elephant. Every time I sneak one of those Happy Meal toys into the trash he is suddenly searching high and low looking for exactly that one. How does he know?

He has recently become attached to his Good Night Moon stuffed bunny. It was a gift for him from Aunt Trish and Uncle Richard when he was a baby. It's been hanging around in his room for about three years now. Suddenly this is the comfort object. Christopher Bear has been removed from the place of honor and now the bunny is in his place. I asked Hayes what he thought we should name this rabbit. He immediately suggested Christopher Rabbit. Since this is also Hayes's first name, I thought it might be a little too confusing for mommy to keep all the Christophers straight. We thought about it and talked about his coloring (light gray) and his pjs (striped). Suddenly Hayes popped out with, "What about Uncle Pepper Bunny?!"

What an amazing kid. I can only assume that he suggested the "Uncle" title as a tribute to his Uncle Chris (the Christopher for whom he is named). He's no dummy -- he'll slip that Christopher in one way or another. So Uncle Pepper Bunny is headed to Hilton Head with us this week. We'll see if he can pass muster the way our beloved Christopher Bear has this year. You never can tell with Hayes.

Swim Lessons, part II


We are going to our last lesson this morning. Too bad they don't have another week; we might just be able to get Hayes to do the swimming thing. Much is improved: he will grab onto the instructor (around the neck) to get into the pool, gradually ease into the water enough to hold the noodle and kick. He still is quite averse to getting his head and hair wet, nothing we can do about that. The weather has been much better for him this week too -- the mid 80s. Good thing we are headed to South Carolina tomorrow. There will be LOTS of water for him to practice in! Glad we hung in there.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Swim Lessons

6.16.2005 Posted by Hello

Hayes is taking swim lessons. I thought it would be good for him to get used to the water, to try things with kids his own age. Have I mentioned that this kid is rather particular about almost every detail of his life? He's hesitant about getting his face wet or any part of himself splashed. This makes things rather tricky as kicking and splashing seem to be an integral part of swimming. In addition to the "no water on me" attitude, these lessons are in the morning, outside, when the water is ice cold. I am actually surprised that he will get in the water at all. I am wondering why I thought this would be a good idea at all. We spend the ride home discussing why he can't just "do my own thing" while he's in the water. He seems to believe that is why he is there and disregards the instructions of the swim teacher most of the time. One more week of this. We'll see if things improve.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Caffeine A Go Go


So my doc tells me I have to get off the caffeine. I think to myself, "this is no problem; I don't drink very much of the stuff anyway."

Day One: cold turkey -- no tea in the morning, no iced tea in the afternoon, no tea before bed. Hmm.. Maybe I do drink more than I thought. Headache at night, sure to be solved by the "happy eye pillow" (my favorite item every from Bath and Bodyworks).

Day Two: Splitting headache in the morning;must take Excedrin Migraine -- oh yeah, Excedrin has caffeine in it. Hmm...Tylenol instead. Two cups of herbal tea (mostly satisfying) and swim lessons, more Tylenol to follow. Grouchy momma by noon, still with a splitting headache, caffeine-free diet coke with lunch. Hayes has a friend coming over after lunch so I break down and decide to take the Excedrin, for the sake of the friend of course. Instant relief. 9:00 pm -- Diet Coke (with evil drug) from the drive through. This will be much harder than anticipated.



Two amazing shows are in my future: Penrod, September 10th and The One Of A Kind Show, December 2-4!! I am so excited I can barely sit at my desk without popping up to attend to some new and fresh idea for these two shows. I need more panels, more shelving, customized bags, a new tent leg, sandbags for the tent, not to mention more product! It's a huge investment, but hopefully with great return. I've been hoping for Penrod, dreaming about it for so long now that I don't know even how to respond. Elaine put it best: you're swimming with the big fish now. And how! What a year this is turning out to be.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The agony of packing


I love to travel. I love to go and see and do. But I hate to pack. It gives me a headache every time. This time we will be packing for a quick trip to Hilton Head and then we will have a one day turn-around at home before taking off on a 3 week stint at the lake. Don't get me wrong; I am excited to go both places. I've never even been to Hilton Head before. I know it will be great and relaxing once we are there; I even have 6 (yes, 6) new books ready for a 5 day trip. Call me ambitious, optimistic even. The laundry is almost all done, but it will all have to be re-done before we can pack it away for SC. I just know we're going to forget something crucial. Maybe there is a service one could call? 1-800-butlers? Off we go...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Poor Showing

I took my art to a fair at Conner Prairie this was rather a bust. Very few people showed up. No one is sure why. It was also the former "country market." I have a feeling this is why so few of the artists moved anything. The weather was also a killer - the first heat wave we've had all year. Oh, and come to find out, my tent lost a foot at the Broad Ripple Fair, two weekends ago. Who know it would take two screwdrivers and a pair of pliers to extricate the leg to set up for this show?

I did have a personal triumph at this show: I dodged a severe rainstorm by about 10 minutes. You've never seen me move so quickly. I HATE the rain. I was packed up and pulling out in no less than 30 minutes. I wanted to scream to everyone as I left, "I'm a genius! I did it! I missed the rain!"

I did, however, have to pull off the highway for about 3 minutes when the hail hit. The rain was simply blinding. The best part of sitting in this intense rain storm was hearing the DJ for NPR say, "It's currently partly sunny here in Indianapolis." Oh, the irony. Here's hoping that July is better than June.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Yeah Right


So I have started a new book that Angie recommended (thanks!): The Myth of the Perfect Mother: Rethinking the Spirituality of Women, Carla Barnhill. I'm right there with Carla as she describes how her day gets blown in all sorts of directions despite her best intentions. I love how women are able to talk much more freely about this than my mother's generation.

Then at the end of the introduction she writes:
"I would be thrilled if pastors read this book and started thinking about the women in their churches who are impacted by these messages about motherhood and family."

All I could think of as I read these words was, "Yeah, right. A pastor is really going to take the time to read a book geared toward women who already seem so happy in the pews and readily able to help with whatever the church needs. I don't think so." And that's when I felt that feminine thing rise up again. I felt sure that no a male pastor would read a woman's book. Certainly there would be some commentary on Exodus or Acts that needed reading first, or maybe a book about the emergent church or a book about our sinful nature. Those are the issues that pertain to the whole church. Those are the issues one would be better to address (for those of you who don't know me, I am dripping with sarcasm here).

In the best of all worlds, The Myth of the Perfect Mother may show up in a pastor's stack of books that will someday get read, or more likely in the hands of his wife; but I sincerely doubt a male pastor is going to give the time of day to the plight of mothers in his church.

I know, I was shocked to find myself feeling that way too. Too bad, isn't it? But I really do feel this way. I'm trying to be more honest (even with myself) about these things.



We were coming home from Trader Joe's this morning after grabbing a cartful of groceries. Hayes was hungry, so I gave him the bag of Cheetos. He got so quiet I asked him how he was doing.

"Fine," was his answer. "I'm making golf courses."
"How are you doing that?" I asked.
"See, this is the green and this is the fairway and this is the tee box," he says as he points to various parts of the Cheeto. "And now I'm eating it all up!" Crunch!

The boy as a DEEP love for the game, and I am incredibly busy today. Thank heaven it's raining. Watch out Tiger Woods!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Little Bitty Lies, Mary Kay Andrews


Just finished reading Mary Kay Andrews Little Bitty Lies. It was a fun summer/beach read. It was predictable, but enjoyable all the same. I like to read a fun little mystery every so often. It was enough to keep me interested, even though I had the plot figured out before page 20. I think I'll give it 3 stars on the Amy Scale for Novels.

I have also come to the realization that I might finally be done with that "Literature Free Period" of mom-hood. Hayes can do his thing during the day and I can stay up late reading because I am not exhausted from the day's mommy chores. Let's raise a glass to the "Literary Period," shall we?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005



We know that summer has begun when we begin migrating to the lake. My folks have a summer home and a BEAUTIFUL piece of property in Northern Michigan. That's right -- just about 7 hours north of Indy. It's a long haul, especially for Hayes. Although we purchased a DVD player for the van which has been a life saver. Yesterday, on the long ride home, we put in one of Hayes's favorite DVDs: Fantasia 2000. He's the only 3 year old I know who goes around singing Beethoven's 5th. About halfway through the video, it starts to skip, or rather pause and pick up again. It's in random places but fairly regular. Hayes wanted to know what it was doing. Richard told him it was hiccupping. That seemed to make sense to him. The next time it paused into silence, Hayes hiccupped. Every time it paused (about every 2 or 3 minutes) Hayes hiccupped. We got to laughing so hard Hayes told us to be quiet, he couldn't hear his music! So literal ... we may just have an Emily on our hands.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Power Behind the Throne


I am almost finished with Sue Monk Kidd's _Dance of the Dissident Daughter_. There is no possible way to sum it up. I am in awe of a woman who would/could make such and arduous journey with no map and no known traveling companion. I see much of myself in this woman's experience and I felt a bit like a see-saw as I read about her journey. I know I have grown spiritually in some of the same ways, but none as dramatic as hers. In fact, it may be that what I used to think were leaps and bounds may actually be baby steps. I have altered my trajectory (or had it altered) spiritually more than once, for which I am grateful. But as I read I kept feeling like her experience was not fully mine.

Until today. A good friend asked to talk to me about what it's like for me to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). At that moment, two things happened in me. First, I saw myself (as if an outside observer) sigh and shrink into my seat in an admission that, yes, this is where you can find me. I used to have more worth than this, but now, I am the primary care giver; I am the one who can decode what is apparently a secret language unique to Hayes and myself; I can interpret the body language of my son, know if he is being silly or rude, find the only pair of his pants without holes in the knees and determine if he really needs to use the potty; I can locate the missing head of cauliflower in the overstuffed refridgerator; I seem to be alone in knowing that a timeout for Hayes is worse than a spanking; I can find the magic blanket at bedtime, understand why it is magical, and know without looking if we are out of laundry detergent. This is what my life has become, in fact, been reduced to. And I realized that I had accepted this without even considering how if would make me feel, but because I felt it was the reasonable choice. And in fact, thousands upon thousands of women seem to be quite happy in their roles as SAHMs and who am I to doubt it? All I know is, the full weight of it hit me at that precise moment and I knew I wouldn't be able to turn back or pretend it was ok.

The second thing, which happened about 2.8 seconds after the first, was that I found myself referred to as "the power behind the throne." These words are causing an almost physical reaction in me. This one phrase has been with me all day rattling around in my head so loudly I can hear nothing else. This could be my defining feminine moment. Sue Monk Kidd describes the moment when she realized something about herself that changed everything. She called herself "Father Sue." She relates how these words were the catalyst for an awakening in her that she would never have guessed was deep within.

When my friend used the phrase "the power behind the throne," all I could think of was the different mirrors woman have within a patriarchal culture with which to see their lives. Kidd mentions these among others: The Many Breasted Woman (takes care of everyone and sometimes herself), The Secondary Partner (always takes the back seat to the more powerful partner), and The Dutiful Daughter (following the rules, not rocking the boat). I have definitely been living these roles to varying degrees. This comment from my friend drove it home like an iron stake through my head (a fantastic feminine image from the old testament). Is this what I am striving to be? Is this it? It's not possible. I have a lot of exploring to do and me without my map. But I do have the experience of many women throughout history and my community to see me through. I had no idea this book would affect me so much.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What's in a Name?

So I found an altered identity! I think that's AB speak for a sort of pen name. I will have to do an altered book for SIMON ROYCE HARLAN I. I anagramed my name and this is one of the better ones. I especially love it since Grandmom's last name was Harlan. Too good to pass up. Maybe I can create an entire altered novel with Amy and Summer. We can all anagram our names and create a slew of altered characters with fabulous stories and marvelous lives. From my name alone we could have:


Wanna try it? check out this site. I'm off to alter my cast of characters!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

What is a Mother

Hayes brought home a "card" from school the Friday before mother's day. In it was stapled all the things that the children said when asked, "What is a mother and what does she do?" Here's what Hayes said:

Sometimes a mommy sends you to school. They can tell you that sometimes a cloud can cover up a rainbow. A mother shows you that sometimes the moon covers up the sun. That's kind of cool! She likes me to not eat too much candy! When she's asleep she doesn't like very loud, loud. loud noise. She likes when I don't make too much noise.

Well -- that pretty much covers it. I love that kid!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

As The Pendulum Swings

How is it that last night when my child says to me, "You are my very best mommy ever," and gives me this wonderful hug, I practically melted; yet today, when I found crayon scribbles on the carpet and sofa cushions (yes, it is possible to write with crayon on fabric surfaces) I wanted to yank his little arm off? Rage is not a pretty thing. And really, my meltdown had nothing to do with the actual crayon markings (which he said he did to surprise me -- it worked). It had everything to do with may having asked him to get the mess of broken crayons and papers cleaned up 15 minutes prior to finding him there, in yet a larger mess. Oh, and also with him laughing as I am trying to convey how upsetting his choices were and how disobedient he has been. And perhaps the fact that he pulled apart my favorite necklace earlier this morning didn't help matters.

These are the moments when I think I will never make it as a mother. Ironic that Mother's Day is just around the corner. What do you do when you are sure you are going to throttle your child and that, perhaps, he deserves it? I walk away; I call Richard; I leave the boy in his "time out" area. But in reality, I'm ashamed of myself for letting my emotions get a hold on me like that. Should I have spanked him? He is not battered by any stretch, in fact, my parents seem to think he could use a spanking a bit more. But it seems to me that as the adult, I should be able to check myself a bit better. How do you deal with a stubborn three-year-old?

So when this precious little prince wakes up from his tantrum-induced nap, we will no doubt pick up where we left off, hopefully with less emotion and more reason (at least on my part). I am a big believer in natural consequences. If you make the mess, you clean it up. It could be a very long night for little man tonight. There is one Hell of a mess in that playroom; he didn't help himself any by throwing that tantrum. And I hate it that I will have to be the one enforcing the punishment. Ah the joys of Motherhood. Thank God I was the "best mommy ever" last night. All hope is lost for tonight.

The difference in being generous

I began reading Spong's book yesterday. I was immediately put off. Why must he be so rude and so elitist? I was struck by the incredible difference between his voice and that of Brian McLaren. I couldn't even get through the introduction. My suspicion is that Spong may indeed have some very good ideas and timely advise for Christians; but I simply can't enter into his critical air, especially when McLaren has such a open and respectful tone. Perhaps I am spoiled, but Spong is not going to be the book for me. Instead I am going for Sue Monk Kidd's Dance of the Dissident Daughter. I am already into Chapter 1 and loving it! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Book Reviews

Just finished two fabulous books, each in their respective genres.

1. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Terri McMillan -- I LOVE this book. I start out every summer with it. If you don't mind the profanity (which, of course, my mom was shocked by), and you can follow a train of though without any punctuation (sorry Richard), I highly recommend it. Fun, flirtatious and absolutely inspiring. I'll have to remember this the next time I have a creative block.

2. A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian McLaren -- I do not have adequate words for the impact on my faith this man's books have had. Finally, someone who understands faith in a similar way as I do. I have waited a long time to hear another voice out there proclaiming Christ in this way. If you are fed up with the church as we know it, if you are sure there must be another way, if you just don't see Christ in Christianity so much anymore, I say you must read this book! Utterly refreshing.

Now, of course, I have to choose from the waiting stack of 4 which one I will read next. Anyone read anything by Spong? I got 3 of his books for Xmas this year and I think he's next on my list. I'd like to compare him to McLaren.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Going through Disney withdrawl. Had to eat dinner with just Hayes last night. I didn't know what to do! Can't wait to go back. Loved being with the Brenners. Have to love it when you find someone who loves Disney the way you do. Small World was remarkably cleaner and in general sweeter than it's been in a long time. I will be remembering the week for days and weeks to come. FUN, FUN FUN!