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Brave New Traveler, Arvol Looking Horse, and tt, of course

November 20, 2010

A published article!  I’ve been working very hard at this….. the real deal!  Doesn’t look like I will be retiring from the day job any time soon, but one has to start somewhere, right?  I have a couple more pieces sitting on the publishers desk, ready to find their way to print at any moment.

Please, if you have a moment, go to Brave New Traveler.

Still haven’t found an agent for “the manuscript” yet…. taking a hiatus from that.  Focusing on publishing takes all of my free time (that and hanging out with tt).  I miss posting here, chatting with you, checking out your blog, but one must prioritize (so I am told).

And speaking of tt, she sleeps soundly in the next room.  We have a tradition!  She stays over night every Friday night.  Mama gets a break and a good night sleep, and Grandma has a great time.  We camp out together… there is nothing like waking up in the morning to a cherubic face smiling at you.  Ahhhh, joy.


Happy Thanksgiving!!

tt’s latest photos – 7.5 months

October 23, 2010

Too tired to read any more.

My girls.

“My favorite is Maisy books.”

“I love the punkin farm.”

Too cute for words.

A meditation on the waters of Bali – Matador Travel E-zine

August 20, 2010

A published article!!  Please find it at Matador Travel – Brave New Traveler.  I am posting some pictures here that illustrate the article.

Thanks for checking it out – and please leave a comment there if you have time!!





Teagan, a.k.a. “t-t”

August 5, 2010

tt and monkers, inseparable

This summer has been filled with some of the greatest challenges of my life.  How have I survived, hanging on to the tiny shred of sanity that is left?  See above.  Don’t you want to kiss that little dimple in her elbow!?

Thank you, everyone, for checking in, writing, and asking about my little love.  I shall return!

The Dervish is Still Whirling

June 26, 2010

Three months, fifteen pounds, blowing bubbles and smiling

We (my son who is home for two weeks – hurrah, and I) were talking this morning as we walked, about the jolt that triggers a forgotten memory.  The jolt might be a fragrance, the sight of something, or someone mentioning a long lost event.  I wish I had a more efficient filing system for all the memories that have been consigned to the deep and dark oblivion hole in my recall.

What picture does the aroma of corn cooking on a grill evoke for you?  How about when a person passes you on the sidewalk and the fragrance of patchouli wafts through the air?  Walking through a city you haven’t visited in many years, and coming upon a sign or place you remember from that other time; does it take you back?  For me, the fragrance of lavender brings back a major transitioning time in my life.  It happened to be the fragrance of the lotion from Thymes Co. I was using at the time.   When I smell it, the aura of that time is instantly recaptured, and I feel, momentarily, the way I felt then, ten years ago.

The Thymes Company

I wonder what will bring the recall of this time in my life, ten years from now?  Will it be a song, a smell, or a sound?  Who knows?  But here I am, ten years after the BIG transition, in a new time of MAJOR change.

For Sale, please write if interested…

See that sign?  Yup; the house is for sale.  Maybe not the best market, but we decided it is time to move on.  My baby graduated from high school this month, and she is heading to school in Chicago in the fall.

I am shedding just a little tear; my baby is grown up!

Sure, she will be coming home, but I really don’t need a four-bedroom house with no kids living here!  Of course, two days after the house went on the market, I noticed water dripping from the basement ceiling.  Unfortunately, it was coming from the second floor, so everything in between had to be torn up and dried out; disaster!  Thank goodness for insurance.  So the house was off the market for two prime weeks.  Oh well.  We continue to pack and paint and try to part with treasures.


I learned a few weeks ago that my job may be obsolete this fall.  The public school system, in its infinite (infinitesimal, I mean) wisdom, laid off 460 new teachers.  Those are the teachers I mentor.  No new teachers, no mentors needed.  Yikes again.  I am looking for a new job.

The good news?  Being a grandma is wonderful!  She is growing up fast, becoming more “human,” and she is a lot of fun.  I get to see her almost every day; I don’t know how I survived before she was born!  Her aunt and uncle fight over her, and everyone wants to nap with her.

Auntie won nap time today.

I love blowing bubbles, reading books about Maisy, and my grandma!

The garden is looking lovely.  I am sick of weeding, however, and the rain has finished off the strawberries early in the season.  I won’t mind moving someplace where the garden grows in pots!

Popping Peach Poppies

Neon pink Pinks

Romantic, aromatic roses

I have been entertaining myself with a little sewing late at night, when the house is quiet.  There is nothing like the hum of the sewing machine at midnight when you don’t have to get up for work in the morning.  I have been taking the empty coffee bags from Alterra and making purses and bags and wallets.   It’s been fun, and they are great gifts for the people who work there; a thanks for making part of my day quite pleasant.

Alterra Coffee is the best.

My camera and computer fit too!

More good news has come my way; I received the contract in the mail from the publishing company that is interested in publishing my book.  Now I have to find a lawyer to help me read the contract!  More talk of that in the next few weeks.

Of course there are books being read, food being cooked, travel being planned.  Hopefully there will be more time to share in the next few weeks.  It’s good to be back here.

Out With Venn Diagrams, In With the Whirling Dervish (and Steampunk)

May 6, 2010

This is going to be a bit of stream of consciousness writing… the whirling dervish in my brain is wreaking havoc with my Venn diagrams and I am a bit incoherent.  Lots of photos then!  But first, I have to mention, Diana has a fun book giveaway going on at Oh! Books…Paper…Real life.  Diana went CRAZY at a Saint Louis Mo book sale and came home with a treasure trove of goodies, which she is sharing.  Sweet!

Speaking of books, I have been immersed in steampunk recently. I don’t know where this poster of Abe Lincoln came from, but it really tickled my funny bone.  But if you are not sure of what steampunk means, look at good old Wikipedia:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction, frequently featuring elements of fantasy, that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used — usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England — but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions.

Immersed means not only books, but mag articles, websites,  jewelry, art exhibits, and… dare I say… writing.  Who would have thought?  But I am having great fun.  More on that another day.  Jewelry?  Check out the Etsy shop of Nouveau Motley!  And shop there: I think this necklace is particularly wonderful:

Photo from Nouveau Motley Etsy Store

A great website to keep you updated on all things steampunk is Steampunk Scholar.  In an earlier post, author Mike Perschon quotes from an article he wrote for Journey Planet,

A month before my first steampunk convention in 2008, Adam Frucci at Gizmodo declared steampunk dead. I interviewed Jeff and Ann VanderMeer about their first steampunk anthology at that convention; and here we are, two years later, seeing the release of a second anthology. I suppose in some people’s minds, so long as one person attends the San Francisco Dickensfaire with brass goggles, steampunk will still be alive.

You can read the complete article in issue 6 of Journey Planet.

Wait a minute, back to jewelry… (the dervish whirls).  My therapy has me stringing beads, and I have had great fun searching Etsy shops for the perfect raven skull.  I found it, perfect size and just the color I wanted, at Moon Raven Designs.  No, of course it isn’t a real skull, it is cast resin, detailed, and just what I was looking for.  The necklace isn’t completed, but I am feeling the need of some therapy coming on for this weekend!

Is that skull cool or what!?

Steampunk I have been reading?  Thanks to Carl V. at Stainless Steel Droppings, last year I read Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest.  Set in Seattle, it is a great read.  Check out Carl’s review here.

And speaking of Seattle, apparently steampunk has not run out of ….. steam!….. there.  November 19th -21st, 2010 is Steamcon II.  Cherie Priest is one of the speakers!  It looks like last year was a lot of fun:

Photos from Steamcon site

I recently finished  reading Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel, a young adult fantasy, the middle book of a trilogy.  This book was a lot of fun.  The story began in Paris, in a restaurant located in the Eiffel Tower that had a landing dock for various air going vessels, and was set in the mid 1800’s (or so it seems).  Oppel has a great website.  In the same theme, on my bedside table are Steampunk, an anthology edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, and The Steampunk Trilogy by Paul Di Filippo.  My current read is Extraordinary Engines, another anthology, edited by Nick Gevers.  It has all been great fun.

But what’s mostly been whirling around our house (in a manner of speaking) is Teagan!  She is growing, and already seven weeks old.  Time flies, and all that.

Zoey is just a little bit jealous, and has to be involved in all things baby

Mama, auntie, and Teagan at Mama’s birthday party

Baby Tea.  She loves to read!!

The Venn Diagram of My Brain

April 9, 2010

Do you ever notice the connections that run through your life?  Some are major – can’t miss them.  Some are so small, so infinitesimal, it would take a magnifying glass to locate them.   In my mind,  I think in shapes or pictures or typeset words.  The connections I am referring to look like circles.  Like a Venn diagram; in the left circle are facts having to do with A.  In the right circle are facts associated with B.  Where the circles cross in the middle sit the facts that are related to both.  My life is just a sweeping chain of circles, one connecting to the next and drifting off perpetually.  (I wonder if everyone sees these?)

The first circle: I was talking with a wise friend, and a point that came up in our discussion was fear of death.  I told her I often wake up in the night and the first thought that flits across my consciousness is, “I’m running out of time… I am going to blink and my life will be over…”  Yikes!  I think it is the time thing, more than the act of dying, that bothers me the most.  Well, to be honest, the thought of dying bothers me too, but that’s a whole other Venn diagram.

Second circle, sitting in the doctor’s office, done with the blood pressure, advice about lower back muscle spasms, prescriptions, etc., and we are talking books.  I only see her once or twice a year, but we always manage to fit in this conversation.  Last summer when I was in for traveler’s tummy meds in anticipation of my trip to Bali, she suggested Eat, Pray, Love.  I read it and enjoyed it (especially the eat part).  When I got to Bali I found the Balinese were hating on the book because a slew of single women had descended on the island, looking for you know what.  It was a little embarrassing to walk the street alone, and I definitely avoided eye contact with any males!

But back to this year’s visit.  She says, “The Book Thief is a young adult book, a little off-putting at first, because the narrator is Death, but after a bit I think you will be really pulled in.”

Great.  Here I am, freaking out about death, and I am committed to reading a book narrated by him (always, in my mind, a him).

It was hard to read the first chapter or two.  Very sad.  But then it got easier.  It was consistently sad, but there were joyful moments, too.  Quite like what life must have been, living in Germany in the midst of WWII.  I’ve not read much about what existence was for the German citizens who did not support the Nazi party.  It had to have been incredibly difficult, following your conscience but not allowing it to show.  Being German citizens, they were conscripted whether they wanted to fight or not.  They had to “Heil Hitler” and “Sieg Heil” when appropriate, and as the bombs fell, the innocents were killed along with the guilty.

I rather made friends with Death in this story.  He was just doing his job, gathering souls, in a very eloquent way.  Though narrated by Death, the story is about a young girl, Liesel, who can neither read nor write when the story begins.   Death says about her, “…the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”  He often used color to describe emotions, like “the yellow of burning newspaper.”  Another moment of very moving description, “The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places, it was burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked across the redness.”  The pictures were vividly created in my imagination.

The book I recommended to my doctor was Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor.  I enjoyed The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees, so I was pleased to find this non-fiction story by Kidd, which was also a pleasure to read.  It’s the combined memories of mother and daughter, each taking a chapter in turn, while they are in the throes of change in their lives and relationship: daughter coming of age and mother moving into the “crone” phase.

photo by Scott Taylor

Which is a crossroads I find myself at, making my Venn diagram into a triad.  My once baby girl is grown up, and now has a baby girl of her own (which she generously shares with me!).    I find being a grandmother delightful.  I was amazingly and instantly in love, and that love grows by the day.  At three and a half weeks, I know she recognizes me, and has a secret little smile just for grandma.  We have our own, special songs that quiet her when she is fussy, and when she looks at me with those big, blue, eyes, I see a beautiful relationship growing and blossoming.  While there are things I look forward to with her, I am also enjoying every minute without feeling the need to rush.  I am lucky to see her almost every day, and when a day passes that I don’t, there is the ache of something missing.  I also like not having to get up five times in the night to feed her!

The book I just finished had to do with death, too.  Is there a theme here?  Not on purpose, I guarantee.  Her Fearful Symmetry by A. Niffenegger is a ghost story, which came as a total surprise to me.  I had no idea it was a ghost story when I picked it up at the library, attracted by its cover and the familiar name of the author.  I enjoyed it, though it was sad, but that’s life, isn’t it?  I went back and checked out The Time Traveler’s Wife which I haven’t read yet.  And you notice the header on this blog has a picture of a cemetery?  I find cemeteries particularly picturesque (whatever that says about me!).  This story takes place, in a large part, in Highgate Cemetery in London.  From the New York Times book review:

In the second half of the 19th century, Londoners enjoyed a form of recreation that today might seem grisly: a Sunday stroll through one of the vast graveyards beyond the city center. The new burial grounds were established to move ­corpses out of the metropolitan churchyards, where they had contaminated the groundwater; these cemeteries were at once gardens, social centers and museums of statuary, a sort of theme park bristling with monuments to lost loves and individual hubris. They ultimately bore the same message one might hear in church: No matter how we try, our human endeavors end in death. It was not uncommon to find a family picnicking among the headstones.
Highgate Cemetery, which opened in 1839, is perhaps the most famous of these parklands and a popular tourist attraction now. It is home to the remains of Karl Marx, Radclyffe Hall, Michael Faraday and the Pre-Raphaelite model Elizabeth Siddal Rossetti, among many other luminaries.

Since the story is about a ghost, it seems to me it could squeak into the Once Upon a Time Challenge, in the fantasy category.

More reading (something unrelated to death and cemeteries, I think), more writing, more time with Teagan.  I’ve decided sleep just has to go.  Such a waste of time!  I suppose that will catch up with me sooner or later, though.

The New Look

April 4, 2010

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) on writing:

When you are describing,

A shape, or sound, or tint;

Don’t state the matter plainly,

But put it in a hint;

And learn to look at all things,

With a sort of mental squint.

Bye, baby bunting….

March 25, 2010

8 pounds, 7 ounces

22 inches tall

Teagan Leyona

Our darling baby bunting was born on March 13th, 2010 at 4:43 am.

Here are my girls; happy all.

Zoey is only a little jealous…..

It was a long and arduous cesarean birth, so grandma took the week off to hang out with the girls.  What more could a grandma ask for!?

I am in heaven.


March 12, 2010

The snow has almost disappeared.  And look what I spotted today!  There is an end to the eternal in-between time; the end of winter and beginning of spring.  The streets are mucky and gray, the ground is too wet to walk on, and garbage appears from under piles of melting snow.  As I walked the dogs this afternoon, listening to some robins chirping about their nest building, I was reminded of the first poem I ever wrote:

Snow is white, and

Summer is green.

And in the summer

I grow my beans.

Flowers and grass

will not grow,

in the white

and heavy snow.

Give me a break!  I was only seven; but it did appear in the school’s mimeographed newspaper.  I haven’t done much rhyming work since then.  The snow is no longer white here, but spring is just about upon us.  One of the first things to bloom in my yard will be the Redbud:


We will be well into summer before the roses blossom, but it’s nice to think about…


There is the promise, though…

Speaking of promise, and what is to come, we are waiting for an arrival…..  We did a lot of work to prepare for the moment.


First, we found a chair on Craig’s list, went to JoAnn Fabric, and chose seven different fabrics.  Next we recovered the chair cushions, making a little roll pillow for the lower back:


Then we recovered the shade on the lamp that was in the girls’ room when they were little, along with painting their pink bookshelf a springy, light green:


We measured the window and sewed the curtains:


And made tie-backs for the curtains from chains of elephants we found at World Market:


We went to the Folk Fair, bought some Chinese zodiac symbols, and found the perfect frames at the Dollar Tree:


Of course every room needs a variety of pillows:


There was a Haitian painting in the basement that fit the theme perfectly:


A skirt for the bed and collaged letters on the wall…..


Now we are anxiously waiting for the occupant to arrive – she is one day overdue!!


Gaelic for ‘little poet.’ Let’s hope she has more talent in that area than I did.

I have missed blogging and reading blogs and commenting on blogs.  2010 has had a rather trying and very busy beginning.  I think I am beyond the most difficult, however, and look forward to getting back into the mix.  I am teaching a night class at Carroll University, Understanding Self, Race, Class and Gender to Leverage Student Achievement, which has been interesting, and quite a challenge.  I attended a fabulous writer’s conference this past weekend, meeting a few agents, many writers, and a few soul mates.  I am doing quite a bit of writing, which has become the top of my priority list… although when Teagan shows up, I suspect writing will be bumped to second place.  I have a partial manuscript being read by an agent right now, and a full manuscript being read by an editor of a small publishing company.

Life goes on.  Happy spring to you.  I hope everyone I have “talked” with in the past forgives me for my neglect, and I hope you will come back to visit and comment now and then.  I will be visiting you!