Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dark Arts, Part One

Here is a first world problem: I got a new smartphone and all the apps are insisting on syncing my contacts and location and searches and tethering me invisibly, irrevocably to the cybersphere. I feel like the apps are whispering about me behind my back. Hungry whispers. I would like to go back to pencil and paper, now, please. Not really. But it is possible to yearn for some privacy even as one reaches out through the world wide web.

So, because I am in a darkish mood, and because I wanted to bring you a gift after my long hiatus, I would like to share with you some exquisitely creepy illustrations by John R. Neill that recently caught my eye and breath. The illustrations are from Glinda of Oz by Frank L. Baum, and the ones I am sharing today are from the pastedown inside the front cover. The image as a whole is stunning:

 

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But here are a few of my favorites pulled out:

 

Oh, sad rabbit, I feel for you, surrounded by fiends and lunatics.

Oh, sad rabbit, I feel for you, surrounded by fiends and lunatics.

 

 

I gots a present for you, child. Just reach out your hand...

I gots a present for you, child. Just reach out your hand…

 

 

Oh! Startled chicken!

Oh! Startled chicken!

 

 

The card bird: charming, bizarre, the whole package, really.

The card bird: charming and bizarre, the whole package, really. I also like the face by his left foot because that is how I look in most of my photos.

 

If you have never read the books, you should do so. Oz is a vast world better viewed through words, line sketches and the reader’s imagination than on a screen. I would be interested to hear what catches your eye in the illustration. If you like this post, let me know and I will share a few more images.

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A Quick Breath

I am eating a bowl of cereal, standing at the counter watching the sink fill with soapy water. The dishwasher I have just loaded is humming, and the ingredients for my son’s birthday cake await at my elbow. There is an article waiting to be written, company to prepare for, and all my “wanna-do’s” (paint my toenails, push through to the next step on the novel, play with my art & craft arsenal) whispering “pick me! pick me!” I don’t even realize how tight my breath has become until I glance up from the sink and see the maple trees outside my window, leaves dancing in the sun. A hundred shades of green flicker and lift in the light. A deep breath of appreciation slips in deactivating the taut muscles holding me at attention. Right, breathe. As easy and as difficult as that. Lift your eyes up and out. Breathe.
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Does It Make An Impression?

I had such a nice thing happen today. I got permission from Marian Call to use one of her songs to accompany a quirky video I did last summer when the office where I worked was shutting down and nobody but me came in for days at a time and all I was doing was packing up and throwing things out and wondering what I was going to do with the next part of my life and it felt like a funeral. So I dressed casually and listened to my iPod and did the things on my to-do list. One of the things to-do was to remove this huge mural:

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It was a media relations agency. It was not snowing in the office when I took this picture in case that is what you are thinking. That is dust on my lens which is so embarrassing, but there is nothing I can do about it now. Because, as I said, the mural had to come down. There are no more retakes. The tree was made from one long piece of sticky plastic that came off quite nicely with the help of a blow dryer. Each letter was the same kind of thing. Almost right away, I was thinking, “this is kind of cool, with the music on and the slow, stretchy release of the plastic creating an empty space in the clutter.” Fortunately, after I got the first five lines down plus the question mark at the end, I thought, “Maybe someone ELSE is odd enough to find this interesting.” So I pulled out my smartphone and recorded this video and later added in the music of Marian Call, who I adore and who was gracious enough to let me share it with you. Please watch, and if you like, please share. Please also click on Marian’s name anywhere in this post to listen to more of her music on her bandcamp website. Thanks!

Goodbye, Winter…

This winter has been like a crazy houseguest that doesn’t know when it is time to leave, and, just when you think you will have to murder her, she makes a grand gesture and departs. You don’t miss her, but you remember why you liked her in the first place.

(Photos taken this morning.)

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Home

I lie on an old brown sofa that is covered in tiny nylon loops which should be scratchy but somehow aren’t, probably with a dog or two. We bask in a late afternoon sunbeam that slants in through the ground floor window. I am reading, or was reading, or am about to read. In another season, the wood burning stove might be radiating a blistering heat an arm’s length away, with a humming fan pushing the warmth toward the rest of the house, but in this memory it is summer. My mother or one of my sisters plays Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the old upright piano. The music literally fills the air, and then my lungs as I breathe it in, where my bloodstream absorbs it and carries it to all my cells. I am lifted, carried by it. The bench creaks softly as the pianist shifts octaves, a page whispers as it turns, a dog sighs with contentment. We listen for the sounds of Dad returning. A well-used dartboard hangs in mute challenge surrounded by dozens of tiny holes. The long wall on the south is paneled in yellow pine, and the brown vinyl floor, excellent for sliding on in socked feet, bears a repeating Moorish design. Bifold doors on the north conceal the treasures of multiple generations: books and toys and remnants of kits and tools that haven’t found a home anywhere else. More curiosities are stored under the lid of the kneehole desk Dad made. Into its sides he has burned the brands used by our ranching forefathers. The room smells of old books and sheet music, tooled leather, lemon fresh Pledge, and dog, with a hint of the medicinal, antiseptic and earthy aromas that venture in from Dad’s adjoining veterinary office. It is the music that always pulls me back though, if not the gravitational center, then at least the magnetic north.

The piano, the sofa, the dogs and the people are all gone or in exile now and the house is in others’ hands, but that moment, repeated with minor variations over and over throughout the first half of my life, is omnipresent. That is home, where I started and where, sometimes, I go to restart. No matter when or where I am, I can always return to that couch to drift in words and music and sunlight, surrounded by the presence, or imminent presence, or the remembered presence of people and love.

Thank you, Mom and Dad and Sisters. Thank you for giving me a home.

What moment or place do you go to, when you need to go home?

Re-Feathering the Nest

It feels like a day to clean out, reorganize, and start fresh. I have a boatload of photos that I need to categorize in a sensible fashion. I want to redo the categories here on Wordtabulous.  My projects remind me of how, a few weeks ago, I watched some chickadees working on a nest in a tree in my backyard.

I love their little black caps!

I love their little black caps!

Then, after last week’s snowstorm, the nest looked like this:

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This has nothing to do with the post, I just like how it looks like an ice cream cone.

Today there is nothing left of that nest but a few scattered bits of grass on the snow beneath the tree. What I hadn’t realized is that the birds weren’t building a new nest, they were demolishing an old one for scrap to use in a new location. Talk about green construction.

It isn’t healthy to cling to stuff that doesn’t work anymore, be they ideas, systems, behaviors, or old ball point pens, but taking the old stuff apart, learning from it and reusing what is still good appeals to me. Do you have a closet, a desktop, a lifestyle or something else that needs a fresh start?