Saturday, December 16, 2006

Not Just A Seasonal Thought

"Real wonder is hard to fake." - Ralph Fletcher

Friday, December 15, 2006

This Writer's Life

Struggling Everyday...

It has taken a long time for me to publicly say: I'm a writer. Because in my mind, a writer is someone who actually gets paid for writing. I've never been paid a cent for my words, although Maureen Ryan Griffin did give me a free autographed copy of her book, Spinning Words Into Gold. When she asked my permission to print two of my pieces in her book I hugged her. After that something inside of me shifted. Her belief in my words has given me the confidence to feel like a Real Writer.

Back in May, when I participated in this Sunday's Scribblings Post, I had no idea it was the seedling of what will become my biggest goal of this coming year, to complete my first novel. Last Spring and Summer, my mind and my pen got busy planning, researching and writing the first chapter. Then in September, life threw me some pretty big curves and I had to put my story on hold. But always in my mind I kept thinking about it. In November, life settled down again and I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I really disappointed myself when I was only able to complete 5,647 words; a far cry from the 50,000 word goal. But still I had 4,300 more words than I did on October 31.

Realizing what I really needed was a class, I signed up for a three week workshop with Maureen. The ever-knowing writing coach, she's pushed me along, helping me visualize the story that's dancing inside of me as a completed novel. I've made a What-By-When plan and will join my first ever writer's group in January. By the end of May it is my goal to have my final draft complete and off in proposal form. It's time to stop dreaming the dream and get that pen moving.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Inspiration from Greenish Lady

Changes!

Ha! Funny! I typed the above (Changes!) to run a blogger test instead of typing "test". Ironic? Hmmm.
This morning I converted my blogs over to Beta and was running into a bit of trouble. I should have known better, naively thinking the change would run smooth. Anyhow, I was running a test, typed in "Changes" and before I got a chance to delete it, G.L. dropped me a comment.
Really leaves me to wonder.

So? Well...
Maybe I do need to make some changes.
I've found myself stuck in some boring non-productive ruts lately. I'm not living up to my full potential. I need to put a deeper focus on accomplishing some personal goals. After the holidays will be a good time to start. Once the hustle and bustle is over. Until then I'm going to kick back, look at the Christmas tree, drink some Peppermint Chocolate flavored coffee and formulate my plan for 2007.

Changes! Indeed! Thank you very much Greenish Lady. Very nice.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My Big Fat Craft Show Failure

Click on the above title to read my story which I've posted on my artist blog.

Friday, December 01, 2006

My First Show


Me and my cards are ready for our first show tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cricut Review

If you have been daydreaming about owning the Cricut like I did for months, I suggest to stop. Move on with your life.

I give it a disappointing thumbs down.

Since it came out I have wanted one and waited until there was a very awesome sale. I had seen a demo and was impressed. Every day I would daydream about it. Imagining how much better my crafting life would be with a Cricut in it. I had even put it on par with a microwave's status in the kitchen.

Well in the seven weeks that I have owned it, I have felt totally ripped-off and more and more unimpressed. I'm thinking about selling it on e-bay. Once again proving that cool toys always look better on the T.V. commercials.

I think the crowning moment of disappointment was when I tried to impress/show my mother in law, a non-crafter, how cool the machine is and was left feeling embarrassed because it totally failed me. We were trying to make a simple Christmas card and needless to say it was a total disaster. The blade jumped around. The snowman and stocking did not cut properly. I ended up doing most of the cutting by hand with scissors. I fiddled with the Cricut for a while to make it work. I was determined to make this card. But then I looked at my mother-in-law growing bored and felt like a chump.

The machine's blade is either too sharp or not sharp enough. There is only a small window when it is just right. The same goes for the mat. It is either too sticky and ripping the paper or not sticky enough and the paper shifts leaving the project looking a bit like a four year olds art project.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Note Cards and Pricing

Here are a four samples of my handmade note cards. I'm going to be in the St. Matthews Catholic Church Craft Show in Charlotte on December 2 and I'm trying to figure out what is a fair price to charge.

Each card is a little piece of art. But I also realize that charging too high of a price will not get as many sales.

What would you pay for a package of six of my notecards? Each package of six will be a theme like palm trees or flowers. My cards are like snowflakes, no two exactly alike.

In advance thanks for your input.



Each card is mounted onto beautiful card stock and measures 4 1/4 by 5 1/2 and comes with an envelope.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Finished Porch

Finally getting around to posting the pictures of the completed porch.

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

If you've stopped here because you're thinking about building a porch, build it already! I guarantee you will not be sorry.

I think ours might give you some inspiration, enjoy the pictures.




Monday, November 13, 2006

My Mom's Surprise Visitor

Woo- Woo!!
Who Is Taking My Picture?


Dottie and Lynn arrive for lunch.




Surprise Mom! It's me!



Dottie (Lynn's sister/best friend) had a heck of a time getting Lynn to slow down and stop for lunch on her birthday. My mom is a very busy and active lady. Let's see that morning she went to mass, walked 2 miles, got her hair done and then had a manicure. All before lunch!

Wearing sunglasses and my Ace Hardware baseball cap with a Girls Rule sticker on top, I shout Surprise! and snap her picture. She still hasn't realized it was me. She's just reacting to her picture being taken. Woo-woo Lynnie!

After a great lunch, with lots of laughter, tears, wine, pasta and love we light another candle for Lynn.

Happy 80th Mom! Love You!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Shh. It's a Surprise!!















Can you keep a secret? I'm in Chicago on a secret mission. Today my mom turns 80! And she has no idea I'm in town. Tonight the family is all gathering to celebrate.

But first my aunt is taking her out to lunch after their hair appointments and I'm going to be waiting at the restaurant. Surprise! I can hardly wait. I feel like the little girl I use to be, so excited about giving her mommy a real cool present. I can't wait to hug her and tell her I love her.


Happy Birthday Mom!!!
Surprise!
Your baby girl has come home to help you celebrate!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Collage Art for Note Cards

I made collages today. The stamped images were painted with a variety of twinkling H2O paints. I'm going to be in a craft show the first weekend in December at St Matthews Catholic Church in Charlotte and these collages will make beautiful cards. And that is what I've been up to this week, happily making lots of my note cards.

I've also been playing with the Cricut. Last night I taught my daughter's girl scout group how to make home made journals. They decorated them with cut-outs from the Cricut. Afterwards I read them Mary Oliver's poem, The Summer Day and had them write a five minute gratitude list.

One thing I really like about the Cricut is I can make window cards with ease. I love making window cards!!! One thing I don't like about it is sometimes it gets "confused" when cutting on smaller paper and sends itself back up to the top. Therefore cutting on the mat and not the paper. It does this after already starting a cutting project. I will post some Cricut projects later this week.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

M.I.A. - The worms

My worms ran-away! So I bought some more down at the gas station and those worms died. I bought some more worms and those worms went M.I.A.. Do you think the worms are trying to tell me something? All I'm left with is a stinky container of kitchen scraps and wet half-eaten newspaper. Some worm farmer I turned out to be! I guess I'm just more of a city girl.

A craftin' city girl that is because last weekend I bought a Cricut. I've only played with it three times including last night at my monthly rubber stampers meeting. But I can already tell, it's love! I've checked out a few Cricut owners blogs. I saw some very fun and creative ideas. I'm looking forward to posting some projects of my own in the near future.


Today's Girls on the Run lesson was about listening. We were stressing the importance of how to be good listeners. As class was ending, one girl raised her hand and told the group that today she learned in order to have a successful team everyone on the team has to be a good listener. Then another girl added that good listening is not only using our ears but our eyes also. What smart young ladies! I'm so proud of them and love coaching Girls on the Run. It is such an awesome program. Click it out!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Vermi-composting

I started my own worm ranch yesterday. Being a newbie I have no idea what I'm getting myself into...

HERE'S what I did....

I took a large plastic tote box and punched some drain holes on the bottom. Next, I filled it with moistened newspaper. Then I added a mixture of grass clippings, kitchen compost, a bit of clay and potting soil between each newspaper layer . Finally I added the fifteen or twenty volunteer worms. So far so good.

Do you have a vermi-compost ranch in your life? I'd love to learn more.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Card with Hand Made Paper



This is a card I've made with the hand made paper from our club meeting last week. I ironed the paper to smooth it out. I stamped this beautiful floral Stampa Rosa stamp with black Sta'z-on ink.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Making Paper

Tonight our stamp club is meeting at my house and we are making paper. I have been playing around, making some samples. The recipe I was working with yesterday has a piece of Caribbean blue hand-dyed muslin included in the pulp. I put the fabric through the paper shredder before I ran it through the blender. I couched it against some very smooth paper and the results turned out fantastic. Click on the paper to see it up close.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Falling into Fall

It feels like Fall.
I love Fall!
Fall means cooler nights. No humidity. Bright bold brilliant colors. Crispness in the air. The aroma of baking apples. Rosy cheeks after the backyard football game. Classical music on rainy days that warm my insides.

Yesterday I made stuffed green peppers for dinner and they were delicious. As I prepared them I was flooded with childhood memories of my mom cooking dinner, the wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen. The good secure feeling I had of being loved and cooked for, happy little memories. Food does that, it can delivery us back to another time and place.

What food says Fall to you?

Mine is baked apples glazed with brown sugar and cinnamon. Yum! I think I'll pick up a bag of apples at the produce stand today and make some tonight.

I've been creatively busy making cards for the craft and gift show I'll be in on December 2. I wish my art studio was self-cleaning because my work space seems to get smaller every day. When I'm in my art studio cleaning is the very last thing on my mind. I'll post some of my cards soon.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Back To School and Line Dried Sheets

School started yesterday. On a Friday!? Go figure. But there is a reason. Public Schools here can start no early than August 25th. This year August 25 happened to be a Friday. Wasting no time the Administration started school Friday.

Having the children back at school seems like a good time to start some new things myself. Nothing glamorous just some basic "house weeding". Clearing up the accumulation of unhandled things. The things in life that never seem as important or at least not as interesting as the other more pressing details of life. Traveling as much as we did this summer so many things seem to have slipped into that category.

This morning G and I were cleaning up the kitchen. And I finally put away the tubes of caulk that have been hanging out on the counter top all summer. It felt so good to FINALLY take care of that. Life gets like that. I get so busy with the routine I fail to see the tubes of caulk piled up all around me on the counter tops of my life.

My break is over. I'm going to head off for some more decluttering, vacuuming and cleaning. I've been drying my sheets on the line and I think they are dry. Line dried sheets smell and feel so AWESOME! I can hardly wait till bedtime.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Porch Side

Here in North Carolina we have an annual tax-free holiday. It makes me very happy to buy things tax free. This year our holiday was August 4,5 & 6th. SO?
So, what better weekend than the holiday to buy a new notebook? And why not go wireless?
POSTING PORCH SIDE.
Hey I'm out on the porch this minute listening to Dave Matthews, sipping a bloody Mary, breathing in the sweet aroma of my neighbor's freshly cut lawn. Today is a rare August North Carolina jewel...no humidity, perfect temps., a perfect evening.
Soon I will update on the bounty of experiences I indulged in this summer. Like honeydew melon melting in my mouth, it was so ripe with fullness.
After a summer away, a summer filled with great memories and so much travel.
....the best summer ...... ever!
And now it is time to take another dip in the hot tub, top off my battery!

Continue to pray for world peace.
PEACE! WORLD PEACE!

Soon I will return...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Where Am I?

Well here's where I've been.....

On my porch of course! Which after two and a half solid months of work people in my house I'm loving the privacy.

And in Charleston with my mom. Oh so lovely. If you've never been to Charleston please go! It is a southern city like no other.

At my son's 8th grade graduation. My first off to high school. Hey I was just in high school. How can this be?

On my porch.

Preparing for the summer.

Driving my soon to be 7th grade son to camp.

Writing....writing.....writing.....(in my purple spiral notebook, in my pretty covered journal, in my composition notebook, on a napkin, wherever........)!

Oh. Yes and I did I mention I've been on my porch a lot. Even bought a new blender! Which has come in handy quite a bit. I'll be back but I'm going to be gone for a bit...kids, family, vacations,etc.....

HOPE YOU ARE OUT THERE ENJOYING YOURSELF TOO!!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Daily Writing

I'm curious to know how many people write daily? When do you write? Do you have a special time or place? What is it about writing that keeps you writing? I wonder if you feel like I do on days when I don't write; out of sorts.

Every morning I try to write three pages after my children leave for school. I started this practice in January when I participated in an online Artist Way Group. I found it such a rewarding experience I have kept at it ever since. I keep other journals too but writing in them is more a hit or miss operation for me. The morning pages are like making my bed. If I don't do it, I feel guilty and unkempt, warbly and off balance.

I also have another blog that I publish daily. That blog is a challenge because it has a forty three word limit and some times that is impossible for me to do, but I do it. Partly because I have a huge need to follow the rules but also because I have learned to eliminate unnecessary words in my writing. Amazing a wordy person like me cutting out "the", "and","she" like a skilled hair stylist with a pair of scissors.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Porch: Need Your Help!





The ceiling will be polyurethaned but what we are still trying to decide is whether to just paint the rest or polyurethane the parts that can be and paint the parts that can't be polyurethaned.

What do YOU think?
Opinions PLEASE!!!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More Porch Pictures

The porch is progressing nicely. The sky lights are installed, the roof is shingled, the electrical is roughed in and the framing and electrical inspectors visited today. Tomorrow (Thursday) the insulation will be installed and then they can start on the ceiling. Friday the masons are coming to build the fireplace. It looks more like a lodge than a screened-in porch. It is so beautiful!



Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #7: "The books I would write..."

***
Oh The Books I Would Write...
sounds like a title by Dr. Seuss!

That's what I thought when I first read this week's topic.
***
Someday I might REALLY write a book until then I'll just dream and scribble a little....

How hard can this be? For a big dreamer this was like indulging in a piece of French Chocolate Silk pie. Yum!!! And since I don't really have to write any of these novels I came up with five seedlings. Ask me again tomorrow and I'll probably have five new ideas. Writer's block is definitely NOT my problem. I just can't sit still long enough to develop my stories or characters into anything worthy.

1. A humorous chick-lit book. A lonely woman has little faith in anything including herself until she adopts an abandoned dog. She learns to believe/trust not only in herself but in others too. The previously abused and abandoned dog is so badly behaved that she is forced to sign up for dog obedience school. This leads her to find the most important thing missing from her life; female friendship.

2. Disability genre book. Well intentioned parents are struggling with their emotionally handicapped son while trying to keep the rest of their family balanced. They learn how to stop being so dysfunctional and find a better way to function through the "accidental" adoption of a physically handicapped dog.

3. A humorous chick-lit book. A dancer falls and breaks her ankle ending her illustrious career. Bitter and angry she decides to sever her self from the dancing community and big city life. She moves to a smaller city and discovers her life has only just begun as she reinvents herself as a potter.

4. A mystery. A woman has moved with her husband (new job) and children to an affluent suburban town where she finds she just doesn't fit in no matter how she tries; there she finds the women petty, phony and power hungry. Through her minister's wife she starts volunteering at a homeless shelter where she befriends a homeless woman and discovers a shocking secret.

5. A coming of age story. A young girl learns to believe in herself through her grandmother's recipes she finds buried in a cedar chest in the attic. Suddenly she is baking, entering competitions and winning! A mysterious recipe leads her on the biggest adventure of her young life.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Porch Progress and Grouse News


























































Very exciting progress has been made on the porch. Monday they built the walls and part of the roof. Yesterday they finished the roof and attached half of the plywood onto the roof. Today they plan on finishing the roof. The finished porch will have a wood burning fireplace and will measure 27' X 22'. Our outdoor living room! Stay tuned for more pictures.

The past few weeks a pair of grouse have been hanging around the house, munching on seeds that have fallen from our bird feeders. I've been told they are in transition and are headed west for the mountains. I certainly have enjoyed their visit!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Building a Porch

We are building a lovely screened-in porch!





























Last Monday we had the concrete floor poured and stamped. As a rubber stamper I was totally captivated. I felt like a little kid and loved watching the entire process.

As the main color I chose a light brown called "wheatfields" and classic gray as the release color. They pour the main color right into the cement mixer.


























































Right before they stamp the concrete they throw the release color (classic gray) in powder form onto the wet cement. Using giant stamps they press the images into the wet concrete. The results are random and beautiful. It really looks like slate.















Tomorrow (weather permitting) the framing starts.








Jenny really loves it too!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

American Idol and Other T.V. Ramblings

I gave up T.V. as my New Year's Resolution. Mostly I have been very disciplined about it. On the weekends I watch The Suite Life of Zach and Cody with my daughter, but this is more to monitor her intake.

Somewhat proudly I declare I have never ever watched American Idol. Does this make me some sort of a weird anomaly? Am I the only one on the planet that could give a flying frappachino who gets voted off?

Lots of people raise eyebrows at me, but I don't allow my children to watch T.V. during the school week. They also aren't allowed to play computer or video games. I want them outside playing, exploring, getting exercise and interacting with other humans. My children don't mind because they have never known life any differently. I'm trying to establish healthy habits now. So far I think my plan is working.

I challenge
you to turn off your T.V. today. Instead take a walk, toss the Frisbee, talk to an old friend, check-out the garden or read a book.

Plus not hearing all those annoying commercials will do your brain some good.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm Still Here

Yes I'm still here. Just been busy with things like the garden, the kids, rechaulking the shower, my other blog and art class.

Also we are doing a bit of construction at our house and I've elected myself as the unofficial supervisor.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

SUNDAY SCRIBBLINGS #4

















Chocolate Nightmare

Most of my memories of chocolate are fond. There is the memory of my great aunt Helen arriving at our house for every occasion with a box of Fannie May Colonial Assortment of chocolates. Irresistible! There is the sweet memory of my first love sharing his giant bar of Hershey's with me in Fort Zany. When I lived in the e.e. Cummings House in Sandburg Terrace on the twenty-second floor and the wind was blowing from south to north the Blommers Chocolate Factory would perfume the air with its most intoxicating aroma. Nights sitting on my balcony were like a calorie free trip to Willy Wonka's.

However there is one chocolate story that is a nightmare. My chocolate nightmare! Almost two years ago, on a beautiful summer evening, my husband and baseball loving son had gone off to see the Charlotte Knights play. I stayed back with the other two children and our three month old Jack Russell Terrier puppy, Jenny.

My daughter was seven and our new puppy was her world. I was out gardening when she popped her head out the front door and asked if she could give Jenny some treats. Sure, but not too many I called back.

As the light began to fade I came inside to see the lazy Susan cabinet opened and the newly purchased container of Vitakraft Choco Milk Drops knocked on the floor. I picked up the container and noticed the new jar was now only two-thirds full. I smiled thinking, that girl is going to spoil that puppy.

My children and puppy were happy inside, all snuggled up together. This was rather unusual. Jenny was usually running circles around her circles, but instead she was asleep! Asleep? A Jack Russell Terrier puppy asleep? This struck me as rather odd. Then I looked closer. Jenny was huge. She was completely bloated! And she was struggling to breath. Suddenly she was heaving. I picked her up and put her out on the front step where she immediately puked. I guess she had too many treats.

I brought her inside and watched her body shake. Maybe she's cold after being sick. I swaddled her in a baby blanket and kept a close eye on her. After fifteen minutes her condition was not improving. She seemed almost comatose. I called my husband on his cell phone. He said the game was over and they were headed home. By the time he arrived home Jenny's condition had worsened. She had thrown-up again and was so bloated she looked like road side kill. My husband and oldest son scooped Jenny up and took her and the doggie treats to the animal emergency room.



It turns out that one of the main ingredients of Vitakraft Choco Milk Drops is cocoa. Cocoa is lethal for dogs. Jenny had to be given charcoal to stabilize her. It is a miracle she survived her ordeal. Her body had reached a dangerously toxic level of cocoa. She had to spend the night in the E.R. The doctors were floored that these lethal poisons were being sold as dog treats in a national pet store!

The next day, with my $200 E.R. bill in hand I marched into Petsmart were I bought the treats and demanded they pay for the E.R. vet visit. Their only solution was to refund me for the Vitakraft treats and nothing more. I asked that they talk to management about removing the Choco Milk Drops from their shelves. They told me they had no control over what their purchaser ordered. Crazy and irresponsible! I trusted Petsmart to provide healthy and safe treats for my dog. Never again will I pick up a can or bag without fully reading the label.

Since her near death experience Jenny has made a full recovery and is an energetic and fun loving dog who loves to play, dig and paint. We stick to dog kibble, Milkbones and Mother Hubbard biscuits as rewards now. I also stay out of pet stores that refuse to read the labels of the products they sell or listen to their customers.

Chocolate is a tasty human treat but can be deadly for dogs. Thankfully for us Jenny survived.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sunday Scribblings


Sunday Scribblings

# 3

Prompt: When We Were Wee....








My First Memory

Often I have wondered how does memory work? Not from a scientific perspective but from an emotional one. What our minds chose to remember or forget is within our control. But how far back can we remember? Certainly not our birth. Our first memories are typically BIG moments like a near drowning when our dad races to the bottom of the pool and scoops us out or when we first learn to ride a bike. These moments define us, scare us, or delight us and most definitely shape us.

My first memory is being told to hush. This was an usual moment for me. I was always such a joyful child and my mother and grandmother were always happy to have me in tow. Being told to hush was a big deal. I didn't understand why, but I was being told to be quiet.

What I remember is that the T.V. was in our breakfast room. That was not the normal everyday thing in our household. We had one T.V. in those days and it resided in my grandmother's room. My mother and grandmother had tissues in their hands. They were crying. I must have been talking as they were watching television. I didn't really understand but I knew it had to be something really important. So I sat quietly on the breakfast room floor and watched my mother and grandmother cry. That is all I remember.

What amazes me and others about this memory is that I was only 16 months old. But in my mind I can see that little snapshot of them crying as clear as day. Many people I have told this story to say there is no way I could remember, but I do! And the reason is simple. It was November, 1963 and my mother and grandmother were watching the funeral of John F. Kennedy on T.V. Maybe because his murder so defined that time. Maybe because his murder and funeral were the catalyst for how Americans now experience the news. I'm not really sure.

As I grew older I somehow held onto that recollection. I can't recall J.F.K.'s murder or funeral, although I have seen them countless times on T.V. since. What I do remember was being told to hush by the two woman I loved most and for me that has forever been embossed in my memory bank.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Poetry Thursday

A while back the Greenish Lady turned me onto a very fine Irish poet by the name of Seamus Heaney. Everyone out in Blogland that reads In Otter Space knows my appreciation for the darling, smart and playful Lutra candensis (River otter). Enjoy this lovely poem by Mr. Heaney.


The Otter
Seamus Heaney

When you plunged
The light of Tuscany wavered
And swung through the pool
From top to bottom.

I loved your wet head and smashing crawl,
Your fine swimmer's back and shoulders
Surfacing and surfacing again
This year and every year since.

I sat dry-throated on the warm stones.
You were beyond me.
The mellowed clarities, the grape-deep air
Thinned and disappointed.

Thank God for the slow loadening,
When I hold you now
We are close and deep
As the atmosphere on water.

My two hands are plumbed water.
You are my palpable, lithe
Otter of memory
In the pool of the moment,

Turning to swim on your back,
Each silent, thigh-shaking kick
Re-tilting the light,
Heaving the cool at your neck.

And suddenly you're out,
Back again, intent as ever,
Heavy and frisky in your freshened pelt,
Printing the stones.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Scribblings




Sunday Scribblings
















Real Life

There are so many stories I could tell about my current real life, but seeing it is April 9th I will share this very intimate portrait with you. I realize no matter how I write it, I will miss something. There is no way my words can come even close to painting this portrait.


Saturday, April 9, 1983

It is a rainy chilly Saturday April morning in Chicago. I should be in my dorm room but instead I'm camped out at my boyfriend Dan's house. The phone rings. It is the call. I knew this call was coming soon, but the reality of it being now hits hard. I hustle, get my things together and we take off.

I remember waiting on LeRoy Avenue in the pouring rain. Ironically, we are waiting at the very spot were my good friend Eugene had tragically died seventeen years earlier. Inside Dan's car the only sound is the whoosh-whoosh from his windshield wipers. There is nothing that can be said. I sit silently heavy in my thoughts and wait for my sister Meg.

Soon Meg's brown Mustang pulls up. We hug in the pouring rain and then drive the one block together deep in our own thoughts. What can two sisters say to each other as the reality of what is about to happen is staring us in the face?

Inside my childhood home, my father, my beloved and darling father is lying on his death bed. His breathing is getting shallower. We can hear the death rattle. Tears are falling from everyone's cheeks. Even the hospice nurse that has been staying at our house for the past three weeks is full of tears. For months now I knew this moment was coming and I tried hard to prepare myself for it. But how can a twenty year old college student prepare herself for the death of her father? How does daddy's little girl say goodbye?

His wife and everyone of his six children are gathered around his bed except for Mike. He is still up in Winona Minnesota at school preparing to come home. We all huddle around his bed, holding his hands, stroking his cheeks. Giving the only thing we have left to give; our presence, our love, our support. We pray, we talk, we sit quietly; waiting. His vital signs are getting weaker. The nurse says his death is near.

Then he opens his big brown eyes. He looks around the room, taking one last look at his family, his wife and children. His eyes flutter and close for the last time. His breath becomes shallower, slower, further apart. We hear him gasp. A few more breaths. Then the breaths become further and further apart until there are no more.

All that's left is my father's shell, his lifeless body begins to turn rigid and cold.

I leave the room unable to stand this unbearable, incomprehensible pain. I want to run down the street screaming, beating my fists against something hard. But I don't. I walk back into his room. I want to see him again. I must see him again. To begin to allow this reality to sink in. I need to drink him in for one last time. I touch his hand, it feels strange, cold and lifeless. I bend over his body and kiss his lips for the last time. Tears are falling, matching the raindrops outside. His lips are blue and cold. The kiss feels awful. It is something I immediately want to erase. But I can't. It is the final loving gesture a daughter can give her father.

Twenty three years later the tears still fall like raindrops staining this page. I realize this man, my father, is still teaching me about life, about love, about family and loyalty. These gifts he keeps giving reach beyond the grave and will always be with me for as long as there is breath in my body.

Daddy, I love you. I miss you. Please send some postcards.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Poetry Thursday --- Lovely and Rooted Janie

Please bear with me. In honor of Poetry Thursday I tried my hand at writing a poem! Here's the background: Today in the Charlotte Observer there was a story about a woman named Janie Ferrell. Her family has passed plants down for the last five generations. Her story inspired me to write this poem. It is still a little rough, but I'm O.K. with that because poems are not my usual style.


Lovely and Rooted Janie
Lisa Otter

In a blooming garden,
where Bridal Wreath Spiraea
arch their graceful branches
laden with white flowers,
come discover Janie Ferrell
firmly planted.

She tends to her roots,
blessed with her precious gifts.
Generation to generation
these legacy plants
pass mother to daughter
with gentle loving care.

The Peonies sweet story,
the Garden Phlox's cheer.
The Lilacs, Daffodils, Irises all have something to share.
Hear the soft whisper from Daylilies in the summer's breeze.

It has been this way for five generations,
plants connecting,
grandmothers to granddaughters,
through their roots,
growing deeper,
inseparable by time.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Letter of Gratitude to My Oldest and Dearest Friend


Dear Journal,


THANK YOU JOURNAL!

Strange, but I never have written the above words before.

Thank You dear Journal! You are a God to me, so selfless, so loving, always beckoning me with your crisp white pages. I love the feeling of dancing with you. Just letting go and spinning around in your arms, lost in the rhythm of the pen as it scratches across our white dance floor.

You are a cherished and ever faithful servant my dear, dear Journal. You have been the shoulder I lean on, the open ear that always listens, never yawning or looking at her watch.

You have caught many of my tears, soothing me like no one else can. What a wonderful non-judgmental supporter you are! In you I release and unleash life's daily burdens. Not only do you celebrate with me my most joyful times, but together we have been through the deepest throws of grief, sorrow, sadness, and depression.

And what have I done for you? Nothing! Nada! Zip! Never once thanking you. I feel so selfish. So Narcissistic! Yet there you are always affording me the opportunity to tune out the rest of the world and get in touch with the truer, deeper, rawer version of myself. You are the holder of all my secrets, concerns, joys, drawings and stories. A capsule of who I was, who I thought I was and who I am becoming.

It has been over 30 years and our relationship keeps growing and evolving. It is as comfortable as an old pair of jeans; like a well loved quilt, woven together with the bits and fragments that make up me. Like an old married couple you help me finish my thoughts. I trust you more than I even trust myself at times.

Have you felt every feeling I've written? Have you embraced my emotional release, my writer's cramp, my melancholy at the end of an old journal, or my joy in starting a new one? Why of course and never once have you complained about the late hours or my foolish imperceptiveness.

This surreal journey of crossing from the conscious to the subconscious has been at your gentle and persistent guidance. Thank you for beckoning me to come dance with you. I treasure you!

You are My Words,

Lisa

Monday, April 03, 2006

New Beginnings - Take a S.W.I.G.

The Artists Way is over.
Time to start some new things.
Endment is changing gears. She is Spinning Words Into Gold using Maureen Ryan Griffin's new book. I told her I'd give the first assignment a try too. Take a S.W.I.G.!

Assignment: Maureen asks us to write who we are in a ten minute sprint. Here's mine.

I am a woman,
yet inside still a little girl.
I am curious.
I am playful.
I want to create what I need
to be creative.
I am a student of life,
carefully studying what others have to teach.
Whether I embrace and agree with their philosophy is
not as important as
what changes
in my heart, in my mind, in my soul
while under their guidance.
I am a sponge
ready to absorb the drink of knowledge.
I love to play, to experiment, to mix
two things together to see the reaction.
I may be the raindrops falling down to earth,
replenishing.
No, I am more like the
newly sprouted seedling, ready to drink, ready to soak up the sun.
Joyfully springing forward.
I am alive in the NOW.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

Here it is, the first writing prompt for Sunday Scribblings:

What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?

Fly without fear. That's what I would do if I knew I wouldn't fail. I wish I could sit in my seat without squeezing the circulation out of my husband's hand. When I fly I squeeze harder than when I delivered any of our three babies. I hate to fly. Especially on small planes. Fear chokes me like a Boa Constrictor. Most of our flying is on a small jet, so it is something I really need to get over.

Last night we were flying and as I sat in my seat watching the last little trace of the sun set I was filled with a new kind of peacefulness I never thought possible while in the air. The pilot, Danny, said "Come up here and fly the plane." NO! Not a possibility. My husband encouraged me, "Come on Honey. Do it!" Danny has assured me over and over that if I sign up for flying lessons I will not be scared of flying anymore. He promises I will never white-knuckle my way from city to city ever again. Somehow I can't imagine flying any other way than scared and nervous.

After the sun set, I sat in my seat and watched the pilots. Fear washed over me. What if the pilots make a mistake, what if we lose cabin pressure. Creepily Payne Stewart images were flashing rapid-fire through my mind. What if, what if, what if, what if. Then I thought, "what if" hasn't happened yet. Relax. Enjoy.

After we landed I said to the other pilot Mark, "Well I lived again." He shot me a look and said, "Of course, I won't have it any other way." So maybe, just maybe next time I fly I'll go sit up in the cock pit, get a little more intimate with the control panel and lose some of my fear. Will I fail or fly?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Tension
Lisa Otter

Tension was the seventh passenger

on the six-seater plane.

There she was with her hands on her hips,

standing ready to board.

Her threadlike lips pursed into a thin callous smile.

All the while she stood there,

she tossed her thick ominous hair behind her shoulders,

and took a deep dark drag off her cigarette.

Nobody invited her.

Nobody wanted her there.

Yet, she forced herself onto the Skyhawk.

An unwanted party guest,

she sat haughtily in her seat,

ready for take-off with her belt fastened securely and

her legs crossed seductively.

Positively beaming...

Pressing herself on us like a humid night in Charleston.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Published Again (Not Me)

~~~~
My 14 year old son "H" walked in from school today with the mail in his hands.

"Hi honey. How was school?" I ask.

"Great. Really great."

"Do you have any homework?"

"No not much. But guess what I've been published again."

"Again?"

"Yes, here look." he says handing me a copy of the magazine with his latest article. One about James Earle Fraser that he researched and wrote a few months ago.

"H this is great. Wow! Hon' I'm so proud of you!"

This is becoming something of a habit for him. His second article in less than two months. On one hand I'm proud. All my hours spent typing and writing must have made an impression. And the writing and typing lessons I insisted on when he was nine certainly have aided him in his ability. When he was nine he thought his first draft was his final draft. Now he edits my writing telling me to delete unneeded adjectives.

I must admit though, I'm a bit jealous. The article I submitted to the paper hasn't been considered yet. The editor told me to re-send it, said he misplaced it. So off I go to resubmit my writing, hopeful that the little local paper will find it worthy. In the meantime, I'm putting on my sunglasses and relishing in the talents of my 14 year old son. Proud to say, "Yep, that's my boy!"

Friday, March 24, 2006

Home Away From Home

"L" is back in school today! She is still not 100%, but she's getting there.

Desperate for some Lisa-time I rushed off to have a manicure. Nice! Nice to have someone take care of me for a change. Plus it was practically a necessity as we have this swank dinner party to attend this evening and my hands looked like they had been through a meat grinder.

Afterwards I found myself in downtown Waxhaw, which is always such a delightful place to be. A new eatery called Southsiders has opened up since my last trip and I just had to pay a visit.

And oh boy was it good!

The menu bragged of a Chicago-Style hotdog. I was skeptical. I always am. Living here in the south has been a culinary cultural eye-opener for me. Sweet tea and what is referred to as "barbecue" down here are definitely acquired tastes. It is a similar experience as one I've had with beer. I'm still waiting to acquire a taste for that even though my brothers assured me I would. That was back in 1978.

After hearing the owner's South-West-Side-of-Chicago accent I knew I was in for a treat. Not only did the dawg come nestled in a poppy seed bun, but she put celery salt, cucumbers, mustard, fresh tomatoes, onions and sport peppers on top! Ketchup was not even suggested. Amen!

I noticed a few customers suspiciously eyeing me as I raised the red plastic basket to my nose and took in a deep breath. I was home! The owner, Patty, stood behind the counter holding her breath. Later, she told me she thought I was the health inspector because I was asking so many questions. I take my hotdogs very seriously.

Sitting down, I closed my eyes and took in another deep breath. When I opened them there was the Mayor himself starring back at me. I'm talking Da' Mayor. Richie Senior. It was a Saint Patrick's Day Parade photo. To the left of me was picture that brought a smile quickly to my lips. It was a shot of frenzied traders in the corn pit at the Chicago Board of Trade. Next, I noticed the golden gloves hanging on the wall. Another wave of home rushed over me. But what got me the most was the 16" softball placed just above the door frame. A 16" softball right in the middle of Waxhaw. Amazing!

The hotdog was perfect. As I sat there eating, I listened to three local men thick with their "Y'alls" and "Yes Ma'ams" talking about local politics and guzzling down their sweet teas. I smiled. I was home.

A little slice of home is sometimes just enough.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Maureen Ryan Griffin is my writing teacher and friend.
She is like a ray of sunshine.
I share with you her poem entitled,
For Mother, As I Sort Through This Old Box Of Clothes Saved For A Granddaughter.
I selected this poem because my daughter has been very sick lately and Maureen's poem puts into such tender words the feelings of my heart. It comes from her book This Scatter of Blossoms.

For Mother, As I Sort Through This Old Box Of Clothes Saved For A Granddaughter

I remember sitting in the tub,
you washing my hair, a halo,
around your head where light

met the steam. I was telling you
how much I loved being eight
that I wanted to be eight forever.

And then I was nine and so happy
to be nine I wanted that age
to last forever too, then ten,

the years clicking by like Hail Marys
on your rosary beads till I would want
nothing more than to leave you.

But that year, my eighth, you bought me
this candy-stripped pink and white dress
with a whale on it.

I remember wanting to cry
when I tried it on the next summer
and it no longer fit.

Though I didn't tell you,
you came home one day carrying
the identical dress, stripped in blue,

in the next larger size. Proving
something about love I've never
found words to thank you for.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Boo to Tummy Aches ~ "L" is still sick

It has been a rough stretch.
We thought "L" was getting better and then last night she took a turn for the worse. Several calls to the GI Doc and suddenly we were headed into the hospital for the endoscopy today! The good news is the Doc says everything looks normal. He took a few samples for biopsy. We will have the results in a week. In the meantime she still is in a lot of pain, tears, etc...

Anyone that knows "L" knows she's been barely sick her entire 8 1/2 years on the planet. This illness is totally out of her character and her mom (me) and dad are very worried.

The Artist Way has fallen off to the side for now. James McBride, the author of The Color of Water brought his jazz band to the CPCC campus tonight for the 14th Annual Literary Festival. This was to be my artist's date. (Un)fortunately, sometimes mother's duties are more pressing than A.D.s. Hopefully I will be able to sneak out later this week and catch some of it. Charlotte is so blessed to have this annual festival!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Artist Dates

One of the things that Julia Cameron has given me is permission to go on Artist's Dates. Deprived from this activity for so long I have more than embraced this experience. My latest dates have been varied as well as awesome. Here's a recap of a few of the more memorable ones:

Went to a Bead show. Beautiful colors, so stimulating!

Took a faux Mokume-Gane class with Barbara McGuire. An educational experience to take a class from one of the Queens of polymer clay. And such a down to earth lady.

Saw Bonnie Riatt in concert. She is one of the best female guitar players. Period. Her encore was John Prine's ~ Angel From Montgomery. It took my breath away to hear this song live. Sigh.

Went to a poetry reading at Barnes and Noble (and bravely read a piece of my writing).

I mentioned earlier about Maureen Ryan Griffin's book Spinning Words Into Gold, but the part I didn't mention was she selected two of my pieces to be in her book. Small as it is I can now say "I'm published". At her book signing she asked me to read "Driven To Distraction". Two readings in one week, I'm on a role!

After all these years of being Mom, Wife, Laundress, Nurse, Cook, Chief Bottle Washer, etc... it feels a little decadent to be taking myself out on these dates. But it is so worth it and so am I!

"L" seems a bit better today. Hoo-rah! She's still not 100%, but also not at the scary level she was earlier this week. Thanks to all of you that sent wishes, thoughts, prayers, etc... I have learned there is no worry heavier than a mother's worry.

Friday, March 17, 2006

My Daughter "L" is Ill

Hello! Up to my ears in Jell-O. :-(

I've had such an intense week. My daughter (she's 8) has been very ill. This week we've been to the pediatrician and the pediatric GI. She is scheduled for a procedure next Thursday. That seems like years from now because she is in SO much pain.

None of my fabulous maternal tricks are working.

It is wearing me out. She is calling out every 10 minutes in such slicing pain that is unnerving. Am I bad mother? Should I be doing more? Do I need to stand outside of the doctor's office ranting and raving until someone, anyone helps us?

Daily calls to the doctors' nurses are typical, as are their replies to try Zantac, a heating pad, propping her up at a new angle, etc... Nothing, NOTHING seems to be working. If she doesn't get better soon I think we will be headed to the ER. At least there I will get some sort of services.

Please tell me something...give me a magic answer. Let me know the one most obvious thing I've been over looking. I will be forever grateful for your wisdom.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sunday's Artists Date

Spinning Words Into Gold
is here.......

Yesterday I went to Maureen Ryan Griffin's book signing and reading of her new book Spinning Words Into Gold. Check out this hands-on-guide of the who, why, when, where and what of writing. It is available for $21.95 published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company, Charlotte, NC.

Maureen has been my writing teacher since I moved to Charlotte. Her approach to writing is fun, her passion is contagious and I 100% recommend any of her classes or workshops. Check her out! She is a poet and a scholar. And you can't help but love her!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Creativity Totem




















Meet Lutra the Playful Otter.

Imagine my surprise when Cameron asks us to find our own creativity totem. Why I've had Lutra for years now. She was a gift from my sister Meg. She really is my mascot! She is very much a reflection of my own life. She has been broken and glued twice, carries purple, green and blue feathers, sports a beret (Jenny's beret), and wear a mauve scarf. She has a place of honor on my art studio shelf and oversees all of my projects.

I painted her nose gold because like her I have an amazing sense of smell. It is the strongest of my senses. My brother calls me the "super-sniffer". Which leads me to wonder about other people's senses. Do you have a sense that is amazingly more acute? Tell me about it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Time for Collage















My Salute to Father Time!

Sometimes the concept of time really freaks me out. We humans have it down to the nano-second don't we? I've watched too many clocks waiting for the moment to pass. I've also wondered where has the time gone?
Time is a puzzle.
Time is precious.
Think about all of the funny little cliches you know about time. Share one with me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Checking In (recap of week 8)

Morning Pages: 7/7. Now suddenly feeling resistance about reading them. Ironic huh?

Artist Date: Daughter was sick both Thursday and Friday so missed the opportunity to go out on an A.D. However I did finish painting my rooster. Picture to follow soon.

Synchronicities: Slow week in synchronicity land, nothing major.

Other: Naming my dream: To be a published writer.
Action: Today (3/6) I submitted an essay I wrote to a local paper.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Attention Lawyers

There is nothing thin about Thin Mints. Nothing! I am going to sue someone. But Who? Maybe the clown that ordered a case, yes an entire case of Thin Mints! She should definitely be held responsible. Or maybe that cute little Brownie that lives upstairs and peddled them in the first place. She is like a dealer. She arrives innocent at the door with her sweet smile and piles of cheerfully boxed cookies. And then asks for a check or cash. Shaking I run for my wallet.

Opening up a sleeve only leads to that sleeves entire consumption in a solo attack of the cellophane wrapper. Then another sleeve starts hollering my name. Screaming, "Eat me. Eat me.", over and over until I can't stand it any more. I give in like a lover weak in the knees. Lusting after another Thin Mint. A little chocolate drool forms in the corner of my mouth. I am a pathetic addict.

IMPORTANT message to Otter: Back Away from the Thin Mints. Put down that sleeve. Good, now back up nice and slow. Yes, that's it. Slow. Good. Don't even think about grabbing that sleeve and stuffing it in your mouth. Take it easy now. Want a drink of water? No more Thin Mints. Good. Just step away.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A New Look for In Otter Space

Let's face it, Winter is over.
Goodbye Winter, goodbye.

In Otter Space is sporting a new look for the Spring.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Go Now and Be Otters in the Universe

Out in the street
a dollar is a dollar
and a man is a man

but we, knowing we are
emissaries

sent out by our enormous
selves
into this dream

commend the otters,
playful, smart and sweet

who prefer
life
to objectivity.

-Suzanne Gordon


In honor of Greenish Lady
and her poetry Thursday...
I dug this Otter poem out.
It was published in Rolling Stone sometime in 1977. (ish?)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

How Does Anyone Function Here???

My Fat Tuesday Revealed

This is what a mess my art studio was on
Fat Tuesday (hence my lentienal commitment)

I'd say by the looks of it the place looks pretty darn fat.........

YIKES, embarrassingly messy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lent

I grew- up Catholic. Every year I look forward to Lent. I love the ritual of making changes in my life. I find it a very healthy process. Sometimes the changes I've made become permanent additions or subtractions. Every Lent I not only give-up something negative but I also add something positive.

This year...

I'm giving-up : post- creative laziness. This means I'm going to clean-up my art studio every day for a minimum of ten minutes. Usually when I finish a project I don't clean-up after myself. This bad habit messes with my creativity. I'll be posting pictures of my art studio to hold myself accountable.

I'm adding : drink more water. I'll be keeping a log to encourage myself.

What are you planning to do for Lent? Drop me a line in this comment box and let me know. I'd love to hear and offer you my support. And don't be afraid... it isn't forever, it's only 40 days and 40 nights.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Learning From My Dogs

I was working with my dogs today. The trick we were practicing is called Work For Dinner. It's a fun trick and if you have dogs you may want to try it.

I grab a handful of kibble and a bar stool (or you can use a laundry basket). Every time the dogs interact with the bar stool they earn a piece of kibble. During this exercise I don't speak to them, I don't say good girl (or boy). Instead I let them experiment. The whole point of this exercise is to get the dogs thinking, experimenting and trying new things.

If Dash puts his paw on the rung of the stool, he earns a treat. When Jenny nods her head at the stool, she gets a treat. When Dash moves his paws on top of the stool, he gets a treat. If Jenny puts her paws over Dash's on top of the stool, she earns a treat. Every time they do something new I give them a piece of Kibble. They try the same moves over, but when they don't earn a treat after a while they will try something different. It is a very amusing exercise and one where the dogs are constantly trying new ways to earn food.

It struck me the similarities between Dash and Jenny playing Work For Dinner and me learning to trust God. Dash and Jenny are both Jack Russell Terriers and they require a lot of stimulation or they get destructive. The more stimulation they get the more calmly they behave. I realized the more I try new things, the more God is giving to me. Like Dash and Jenny, when I experiment with new play, God rewards me with more insight, better understanding, synchronicities and delightful treats. And doing this playing stops me from being destructive in my mind. Instead of the I-can't-do-it-right-attitude, I look at the little collage I just created or the painting I'm working on and say well at least I'm trying some new tricks. Maybe God will give me a little kibble too.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Power of the Buffalo

















Jamie gets a hand from his beautiful wife, Penny.














Jamie Franki (above) shows the reverse of the 2005 nickel which he designed after his brother, Bill saw a contest calling for designs for the U.S. Mint’s artistic infusion program. I attended a lecture by Jamie for my A.D. last weekend. He spoke about how he feels a lot like a contestant on American Idol, his new found "fame" as the bison artist and how his life has changed in the past two and a half years. His success doesn't stop with the 2005 nickel, as his design for the obverse of the 2006 nickel was also selected. He said three years ago he never imagined his art on money. He humbly explains he's still just "Jamie" and not use to being compared to the likes of St. Gaudens and James Earl Fraser.

The thing about Jamie is he is such a down to earth man. Taking the time to tell his story and encouraging everyone to pursue their dreams. He says, after all his is a true American dream.

But the most special thing about Jamie isn't that he has created winning designs or that he is on his way to becoming a name in the art world, but rather, it is his deep and profound love for his wife. They are like two giddy high school kids when their eyes meet. It is very sweet.