Sunday, September 28, 2008

When It Rains

It rained all weekend. Which is not good because there is still plenty of yard to tidy up here at # 9. But rain has a way of slowing you down whether you like it or not. And in my case, that meant I had time to tend to many of my indoor tasks, which in this case, since the Art Fair is next weekend, was all fun.
This will be the second annual Art Fair (YART: Yard plus Art) in our side yard. Anyone who wants to create, show, or sell art of any kind is welcome, and this year we'll have 14 or so home grown artists, including JB and me. We'll start on Saturday morning, wind the day down with a back yard autumn cook-out, and go all the way to breakfast the next morning. Several of our good friends from out-of-state are coming, and that is always a treat, and one isn't and I'm missing her company already.
Meanwhile, we are helping our house look presentable and doing our 'arts and craft s' projects:
.We added more faces to our wall of family and friends.
Then we watched in amazement as this plant friends gave me for my birthday suddenly sprouted this upside down flower--at least I think it's a flower.
Then I changed locations of this wonderful painting of yours truly. I moved it to the porch and it looks just awesome there. In the rare event you don't recognize this gifted artist, let me tell you two things about her: she's my dearest friend, and she serves and stirs up her own form of creativity on a little blog called Ces and her Dishes
This is the location of next weekend's YART. With the permission of a steady rain outside, I made some cards and labels for JB. I chose a template from Microsoft Publisher that looks like her collages, and this is how I desribed her work: This year JB is collaging garden pots. Every one is one-of-a-kind different: different sizes, patterns, & colors.And I have taken my favorite photographs and made cards from them. I will sell them individually and in packs of six. Last night I spent several hours on the couch attaching photos to cards, and I'm just about finished. This means at the end of the week I can concentrate on preparing to feed fifty or so people. The menu is still up in the air, but I know I'll make little meatballs complete with my parents' spaghetti sauce.

And in between all this, I completed and sent my manuscript to Bill, who will format the pages, the fonts, and the layout. And then he will help with the cover. Oh the cover!! But that is a story for next week.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Will It Work?

When we first moved in, it was a three season porch with old crank windows, no heat, and a cement floor. Still, it was beautiful. The ceiling was stained in cherry wood and the windows framed the state park next door. It took us a year or more, butour trusty carpenter insulated everything, replaced the windows with sliders, built wide sills for plants and candles, and added a slated door that opened to the hot tub. We finished it off with all purpose wall-to-wall carpeting because we thought tiles would be slippery and decided on electric heat because the cost of running a line for propane was prohibitive (a short sighted decision, it turns out).
Then necessity took over. Our seven room ranch has a small kitchen and sitting room, an even smaller dining room, a very friendly living room, and three bedrooms, one of which is my office. That left no room for a real dining room except as part of the brand new porch. So that's what we made it, except we also added a futon and in an instant we had a back up bedroom.

Before the re-build, JB and I wanted to create "The Cuban Room". We wanted blues and oranges and bright paintings and wall hangings that led you to festivity as soon as you entered. But we never got that far, and up until a few weeks ago the room was misfit mish-mash with great light and awesome windows.
Then one day JB & I were window shopping and bought a vinyl rug. Turns out we were both right that the vinyl would feel great on bare feet, which is the state of our bodies to and from the hot tub, which is a regular occurrence from the living room to the porch and through the porch door to the back yard.
Long story short, I had the idea to position the futon to separate the room and JB took it from there. Instant success. We've created a little nest" area with the dining table efficiently tucked away at the far end, and a little sitting area that leads you right to the outside hot tub. More design and decoration is needed, but it seems like the flow and use is going to work just out just fine. Tomorrow I'll be bringing in a Bakers' shelf now painted Cuban blue, and the accessorizing will begin!
All this will motivate me to landscape this section of the back yard one of these years, and JB and I can't wait to open a Cuban cigar box when the ambiance is right.

Have a seat.
Read a book.
Watch the birds.
Turn the doornob and float in the hot tub.
Look at the stars.
Count your blessings.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Help! A Humble Solicitation....

Would/could anybody help me with the last legs of the story of Alex and Lily?
I am in need of:

1. EMT knowledge of an auto accident/ambulance scene, including how the Jaws of Life works and who does them, how the EMT's would remove Lily from her crumpled front seat, etc.
2. Endorsements for the back book cover and front pages : I can't promise every comment will make it to print, but if you've read the story and could kindly offer a sentence or two about why you might have liked it, I'd be very appreciative. You can leave your comment here, or e-mail me at
The title is official: The Light Stays On
I don't believe I would have completed this book, let alone ready to publish it, if it weren't for my blog friends and the incredible support I've received. Thank you.


I probably wrote this poem a year ago. Since it's obviously relevant, and might possibly prove my keen foresight in the hallways of high level financial circles, I offer this poem for the times, which by the way, has been slightly edited (the poem, not the times) from the first time around, hopefully for the better, but then again, I can't really say... :)
The banks folded one upon another,
Paper thin accordions so high and wide
it took some seeing before you knew
the little stash fund was buried from the bottom up.
I myself should have known--
a stern faced Brian Williams talked about the first takeover
on Saint Patrick’s day,
Forboding tucked between fact and fiction.
Concern tucked between dinner and dessert.
Plum out of luck,
Visions and values now defaults and deficits,
Birthday balloons of a million little stashes
Falling to the ground after hours.
But that’s not what I thought then,
when I heard the first of it, then,
Even the tales of the great depression
Didn't catch my attention
until when the crack was so wide
one thing led to another
and whish- wash in magic time
my pockets jingled with counterfeit faith.
I cancelled my trips and catalogues,
collected certain coupons,
stopped my auto pays
and organized my closet.
Perhaps I could rebuild,
Unlike my neighbors
Who lost everything
wondering how the American Dream
got schemed and tamed straight to hell?
I’m walking into that Midwest bar at 4 oclock
the Sunday after Easter
announcing that I’ve torched my house,
watched it burn to the ground
just before I packed my suitcase
and headed here,
worthless and spent
just so I could savor an ice cold beer
free of the weight
of cracked expectations.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Sometimes I can't get out of my own way. I fret, lament, curse, and crumble until I finally get myself outside again, pushing my fingers in the cold soil, willing to deal with growth and promise instead of my own sorry alternatives.
So it is that JB and I have spent the last two weekends cleaning up and putting down.
This might be the last dahlia of the season. The four tubers I planted for the first time ever have been a wild success. Beautiful abundant dahlias, some deep purple, some deep pink, some like this one pink on the outside and yellow on the inside.
Then there's the zinnias. These are minatures, popped in the ground in July to the left of JB's Magic Cottage.

Not to mention the metal sunflower from P-town. How cool is this--six feet high and made of scrap metal?

Finally I painted the Baker's shelf I got at the weekly auction for $ 15. It will go on the Porch, which has not yet claimed a clear identity but this festive Cuban blue will be a good start.
Also to the left of the Magic Cottage, I can't believe how sweet these look on the fence.

Did I already mention the Sunflower? Here it is again. This was the big purchase of the summer and I smile every time I look at it.
The Magic Cottage is getting ready for JB's 2nd Annual YART (Yard plus Art = YART). The side yard should nicely hold the fifteen or so artists that are participating this year, including Madame kj who will read tarot cards for a dollar.
I love my backyard. I don't know how it has become so lovely.

This sunflower is every bit as large as it looks--probably a foot or more in diameter. This came from my friend Lily's front yard.

Dahlias! I hope my father is looking down on them and is proud of me.

And last: two weekends of weeding, digging, planting, and mulching. I had hired a couple of guys to remove the old boring evergreen shrubs and pull the big roots from the soil. I used a garden hose to trace the circular shape. I planted hostas around the border. And I popped in a dozen mums to compliment the few new shrubs added a month ago. It's only a beginning, but it looks content and respectable.

So here I am with paint on my arms and dirt on my hands. My back hurts and my knee's complaining. But I know when I step outside tomorrow morning before breakfast, I will look at the yard and feel better. Even if my insides are a bit chaotic, at least my yard's feeling better.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Not-So-Dog Days

Hello! After a break from blogging, I'm glad to be back. I've caught up on pruning (words), painting, planting, and planning for the past few weeks, and none too soon. Here in New England the leaves are readying to change to reds and yellows and oranges before they fall, the garden awaits a final harvest, a dozen mum plants finally bring color to the front of the house, and a six foot metal sunflower sculpted by the metal smith in Provincetown is now attached to the left of the garage, where it will tower above the shrubs and future unwelcomed snow.
I'm in the process of painting three doorway stoops and one baker's shelf. I'm making photo cards for JB's upcoming art fair in our yard (The second annual YART!). I'm finishing the edits of my book and beginning the cover design with a terrific fellow writer named Bill, to whom I am fondly partial. My paid work has mushroomed a bit beyond what I expected and desire, and I've lost sixteen pounds.
In a nutshell, I'm busy and I'm grateful for that.
By way of my brother, I am happy to provide some insight into the secret and not-so-secret thoughts of dogs. You'll probably recognize a dog or two you know through the following:
Dear God: Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?
Dear God: When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it still the same old story?
Dear God: Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang, the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around? We do love a nice ride! Would it be so hard to rename the 'Chrysler Eagle' the ' Chrysler Beagle'?
Dear God: If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?
Dear God: We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?
Dear God: More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.
Dear God: Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?
Dear God: Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember to be agood dog:
1. I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it or after they throw it up.
2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just because I like the way they smell.
3. The Litter Box is not a cookie jar.
4. The sofa is not a 'face towel'.
5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.
6. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet.
7. Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is an unacceptable way of saying 'hello'.
8. I don't need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm under the coffee table.
9. I must shake the rainwater out of my fur before entering the house - not after.
10. I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt.
11. I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my crotch.
12. The cat is not a 'squeaky toy' so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it's usually not a good thing.
P.S. Dear God: When I get to Heaven may I have my testicles back ?

Friday, September 05, 2008

A Bit of a Break

Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you.
For you are my little bunny.”
“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a fish in a trout stream
and I will swim away from you.”
“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother,
“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”
“If you become a fisherman,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a rock on the mountain, high above you.”
“If you become a rock on the mountain high above me,”
said his mother, “I will become a mountain climber,
and I will climb to where you are.”
“If you become a mountain climber,”said the little bunny,
“I will be a crocus in a hidden garden.”
“If you become a crocus in a hidden garden,”
said his mother, “I will be a gardener. And I will find you.”
“If you are a gardener and find me,”
said the little bunny, “I will be a bird
and fly away from you.”
“If you become a bird and fly away from me,”
said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.”
“If you become a tree,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a little sailboat,
and I will sail away from you.”
“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,”
said his mother, “I will become the wind
and blow you where I want you to go.”
“If you become the wind and blow me,” said the little bunny,
“I will join a circus and fly away on a flying trapeze.”
“If you go flying on a flying trapeze,” said his mother,
“I will be a tightrope walker,
and I will walk across the air to you.”
“If you become a tightrope walker and walk across the air,”
said the bunny, “I will become a little boy
and run into a house.”
“If you become a little boy and run into a house,”
said the mother bunny, “I will become your mother
and catch you in my arms and hug you.”
“Shucks,” said the bunny, “I might just as well
stay where I am and be your little bunny.”
And so he did.
“Have a carrot,” said the mother bunny.
I'm taking a break from my blog and blogging for a while. I don't know when, but I will look forward to catching up with you. In the meantime, I can't think of a better way to take my leave than with this children's book. Written in 1942 by Margaret Wise Brown, it's a simple and devoted love story. Nothing more, nothing less. Just love.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Book...

She read it in two sittings.
When she was done, she walked toward me from the kitchen, holding the manuscript with both hands.
"kj," she said. "You've written a novel."
I stared at her. "A real novel?" I asked. "In the same league as all the novels you read?"
"Yes." she said. "It's good."
"Why?" I asked.
"You can understand how much these women love each other. It's real."
That happens to be the very reason I wrote the story of Alex and Lily. That happens to be the reaction I hope for.
She smiled. "It's good, honey. It really is."
Sometimes the opinion of one special person is quite enough.
Next steps: final edit for punctuation/spelling/grammar
timeline edit
page and print layout
title (help!)
cover design (help!)

Monday, September 01, 2008