Friday, August 27, 2010

More Renaissance Center, inside looking out

Here's another shot inside the same room I posted yesterday. This is from balcony on the opposite side of the room looking out toward the Detroit River.

Oops, this was posted to the wrong blog. I meant to post it to Detroit Daily. I will post it there also, sorry about the duplication.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Testimony (Hardcover) by Anita Shreve Testimony by Anita Shreve 688398Mary's review Aug 20, 10

rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not a happy book, but it is excellent and thought provoking. It tells the story of a "mistake" involving 5 students and two adults at a private school from the point of view of each of the students, the parents, teachers, headmaster, and other characters. The consequences of the mistake, which is of a sexual nature, are far-reaching and devastating. It might be slightly overdone, but probably not. It's pretty amazing. I don't want to spoil it. The voices and characterizations are very well done. I really enjoyed/appreciated this book.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh NO! Another new blog!

I am trying out yet another new blog where I am posting just artwork (at this point). there are thumbnails and you can click on them to see them bigger and then, bigger yet. Donno if it will prove useful or not.

It's called MORE SCRIBBLES and is at

Homeless and Hungry #100818-1147

Homeless & Hungry #100818-1147, watercolor. (by me, today.) Click image to view larger.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mama Bear with Triplets

This is my collaboration with Steve, a splotch monster of sorts. Top: Mama bear with triplets, bottom: original splotch by Steve.

Monday, August 16, 2010

new painting: Yellow Lady's Slipper

Creative Every Day. I am creative Every Day. I'm working on a poetry Ms, writing a novel, painting, participating in a mole exchange--I'm so creative that I haven't much time to post about it.

The fire of August in the creative every day Challenge is the SUN which gave energy to this flower to grow and to me, though the food I ate--all energy comes from the sun, from fire--to paint the picture.

Friday, August 13, 2010

WeekWord: Collection

When I first saw the WeekWord over at Textilspanieln, I thought to myself, I no longer collect anything. I was remembering my old stamp collections which I gave away, my insect collections (which I still have, but no longer add to it), my coin collections and rock collections, that sort of thing. I was thinking of people who collect figurines or dolls or stuffed animals. Frog figures or pigs or elephants. Nope, I don't collect any of those things.

But I do collect things. Not always on purpose.

Cameras, for example:

And this is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Between us, my husband and I have hundreds of cameras. I don't collect them intentionally. He does. But I have almost as many as he does. He collects olf vintage cameras (even if they don't work). I want cameras that take good pictures. I want cameras that fit in my pocket. I want a spy camera, that no one can see me using. Yep. That's a confession--I want to be able to take pictures without disturbing people. Or making them angry.

Some of the things I collect might be considered a little odd. Like skulls. Once again, this is just the tiniest tip of the iceberg of my skull collection. But remember, I worked for 33 years as a naturalist and science educator. Skulls can teach us a lot about animals, their diet, their lives.

These are one goose skull and some gull skulls. I have deer and horse and cow and snake and hawk and rabbit and 'possom and raccoon and muskrat and many others.

Another group of things I "collect" (have a collection of) is house plants, including African violets. I guess this makes me officially and "old lady." Here are just two (three?) of many that grace my house and office. I love their colors and beauty, they cheer me up!

I also collect toilet paper tubes for someone who uses them in preschool!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

White Horses, by Douglas Milliken

White Horses by Douglas Milliken

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dreamlike and druggy, poignant and sad, deeply disturbing, a wonderful read. This group of stories is so poetic as to be almost prose poems. Reading it makes life seem unbearably sad, yet deeply important. Excellent!

I asked Douglas Milliken a few questions:

Q: White Horses is so powerful. It clutches me, wrings me out, leaves me with a deep melancholy. what kinds of syntactical choices did you make to inject it with such utter sadness? (or, how did you do it?)

A: To answer this by means of a tangential anecdote: in the process of refining WHITE HORSES for print, Andy (Lyman, of NaDa Publishing) and I have developed a pretty close relationship. We get together a few times a week. We ride bikes out of the city and into the woods. We make asses of ourselves in public. During each of these little get-togethers, Andy updates me that another reader has contacted him by one means or another to tell him that, if nothing else, the book has left them weeping. In one instance, the reader (a close friend) called him in tears the moment she was finished reading. She got the book in the mail, read it straight through, wept and called him weeping. Which is very overwhelming! My objective in writing--not just WHITE HORSES but any story or poem or song, in drawing a picture, in cooking dinner for a friend--has always been to simply create a scenario wherein someone--anyone--might feel something. Feel anything. Just feel. WHITE HORSES definitely explores some dark and challenging territory, so I'd assumed that people would have a melancholic response. But actual tears? I'm blown away every time another report comes in. I don't know how I did it. I had read an interview with Gary Lutz around the time I first started writing WHITE HORSES. There was a lot of discussion on his process, which I found really inspiring. The way he writes a story like a stonemason building a wall. Only one stone can fit between all the others. Only the correct works will tell the story correctly. Any substitutes are just filler. I know I did not come anywhere near the expert finesse of Lutz, but then again, I wasn't aiming to. I was pushed by the idea of Lutz's work, not the possibility of recreating it. I was also morbidly depressed while writing WHITE HORSES. It was a cold winter, and the woman that I lived with was slowly falling out of love with me, which was sort of like watching a car crash in slow-motion. I was haunted by nightmares of her and my brother and all the other people I loved disappearing or being murdered or simply leaving me. I think WHITE HORSES was my attempt to create something that might possibly make all these bad things better. Like I could weave a safety net out of words. Like I might be able to save what little I still had. I think all these desperate factors together created a sort of poetry.

Q: White Horses seems to be a series of dream-like yet very realistic stories. It's also very poetic. Yet it somehow hangs together, almost like a novel. How would you define it, or, would you prefer not to?

A: I don't know of any succinct term that can sum up whatever literary form WHITE HORSES might be. "Interconnected short stories" doesn't seem to cut it. A patchwork novella? Whatever. I'm not terribly concerned with labeling my work. From a traditional writer-publisher standpoint, being unable or unwilling to define what you do is almost always a near-fatal pitfall. Luckily, NaDa is not traditional by any way, shape, or means. Andy read the manuscript and immediately got behind it. There was no real talk about its potential marketability. There was no conversation as to how it should be defined. As far as either of us was concerned, WHITE HORSES was label enough.

Q: Would you say that your writing was more "psychological," as in, a pouring out of angst or more "constructed," as in the stone by stone you refer to "above?" If angst, do you feel that your previous training as a writer allowed you to construct your outpouring in such a way that it has such incredible impact?

A: Well, I've never been the sort who writes for the sake of therapy. Writing can be a valid way of coming to terms with events, but rarely is that the sort of thing anyone would want to read. The first story that I wrote was the title piece, which came out of a conversation with my ex about how I was suddenly able to afford life insurance but not health insurance, that I was worth something dead but not necessarily worth anything alive. The next piece was "On Marriage," which was based on a dream. Then came "XXVI," which was based on the horror of accidentally revealing yourself. We're all so embarrassed about ourselves! It hurts when we can't hide who we are. Inexplicably, these three stories--told by different people about very different circumstances--all seemed of a whole to me. These voices were all singing the same song. I began to imagine an alternate version of myself and an alternate version of the woman who I considered to be my wife though we were in no legal sense married. What would I be like if I gave myself up completely to my dreams and my fantasies? What would it be like to live with and be married to someone like that? I pushed my current circumstances to an extreme to see how horrible it could become. I could have taken it much further. Maybe I should have. Maybe I wimped out. But I grew to like these people, who had at some point become unique individuals, no longer stand-ins but actual people in their own right, if only in my own mind. I loved them. I didn't want to hurt them any more than I already had. I saved them from their circumstance when I could not save myself from mine.

Q: When revising the work, did you revise most for poetic construction, plot, character, or emotional impact. I realize you probably wanted to maximize all of these, which you did successfully, but how did you make choices as to what to leave, what to cut, what to embellish?

A: There were two entire stories that didn't make the cut. Andy never even saw them. Neither was strong enough to hold its own weight. "Naked Light" almost got axed as well, because the language was originally really opaque and clunky. I'm glad I was able to save it, though I still consider it the least-readable portion of the book. Ten minutes before we sent the final manuscript to the printers, I was still making edits to that story.

None of the changes made were for the sake of plot because it isn't a plot-driven story. A lot of the re-reading focused on consistency in tone and rhythm. If something sounded wrong or felt wrong in my mouth, it needed to be fixed. A lot of attention was given to making sure the female character was real and rounded and believable, partly because of her limited air-time but mostly because of the simple nature of my own maleness. Female characters are hard for me. I tend to construct them with more care and attention than the males. I still don't think she's as complete as she could be. Certain things are universal among all people, but some things aren't. You can't just shrug off these considerations.

More than anything else, though, I wanted to make sure that there was no point in the story where anyone could ever say that these two people (or any of the auxiliary characters, for that matter) aren't full of love, that they do not love one another. Things get bad and things get worse, and all the crazy mean destructive things they do to each other, they do out of love. People do horrible things while screaming "love love love," and people do beautiful things while singing the same dumb song. It's probably a really cheesy theme to emphasize these days. I hope it doesn't come across as cheesy.

View excerpts from White Horses here.

This is a great book, a wonderful, startling, fascinating rad, and you can get it now for 15% off through August 13. See coupon below:

Read more about it here at the book's website!
Read another interview here at Thoughts in Progress.

Bye bye barn coat

Back when I used to raise chickens, my hens liked to create stealth nests. If the hidden nests had too many eggs, I usually let them sit. Other wise, I rounded them up, cracked them into an "egg cup" (glass custard dish), and if they looked OK, I ate them. Or we did.

In cooler weather, I had a barn coat and when I went to the barn to collect eggs, I put them in the pockets of the barn coat.

One autumn day, late September, I put on my barn coat for the first time in a couple months or 3 or 4, and I went out to the barn. As I was sliding the door to the side to enter the barn, there was a huge loud sound, like a gunshot or a bomb and then a terrible smell!

I had accidentally left an egg in one of the pockets the barn coat ALL SUMMER in the heat! It exploded and smelled horrible. I threw the coat into the lake (I was living at Beaver Lake then). Later I hosed it off. Then I washed it many times and never completely got rid of that terrible smell. I finally abandoned that coat!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nora Nora, by Anne Rivers Siddon

I just finished Nora Nora, by Anne Rivers Siddon, and absolutely loved it! Excellent, poignant book, deal with relationships, love, betrayal, education, poverty, racial issues, through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl. (Not a kids book!)

My 73rd book of 2010.

Scat, by Carl Hiassen

Scat, by Carl Hiassen, finished 8-9-10

Fantastic! Right up my alley, maybe his best book yet! I loved it! This book deals with so many issues: environmental, honesty, relationships, trust, education, endangered animals, making good choices, and it does it all in an engaging and spell-binding way. I recommend it highly. :-D

Liesl (at Goodreads) says, "They [Hiassen's YA books:] are all, however, a little redundant. Same characters, same setting, same basic issue, same story format. You can predict it all." I felt that way after I read the last one, FLUSH, although I enjoyed the book very much anyway. But this one struck me as different enough from the others to be worthwhile. Yes, they all look at environmental issues, but each issue is different, with different problems and solutions required. It's true they all have "happy endings," but we don't know exactly what the ending will be or HOW THEY WILL GET THERE, and therein lies the fun!

My opinion is that kids need to read a LOT of these books so they are aware of the problems in the environment, the possible solutions, and the kinds of choices that can solve the problems vs. the kinds of choices that make them worse.

Some idiots are building an illegal oil rig on state land and discover a "panther" there and shoot at it to get rid of it, because it's endangered and would draw the game warden etc and conservationists, and they separate the mama from its babies, one of which dies--a dreaded bio teacher, a weirdo and a misfit kid try to reunite the baby with its mother and all kinds of stuff comes down --exciting.

This is my 72nd book of 2010.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sidewalk Saturday

Something has been spilled on the sidewalk near the Flagstar Bank.
It leaves a pretty pattern on the sidewalk, but I hope it is not
something toxic.

WeekWord: Balance, with Links

Terry remembers her first handstand at age 14. (See note about this below!) :-(

Links for all the wonderful people who played along:

Silly Tail of a Biomouse, coming soon

The next WeekWord will be hosted by Elisabeth at Textilspanieln.

If you have done (or do) a new post on this topic, balance, this time around (Sorry about the repetition--I'm new. didn't know, and had no time to research, so sorry), post the link in the comments and I will add it.

* * * *

The image above is an unfinished (and maybe stand-in) illustration for my novel, Disappearing. I did it on the iPad, rather hastily. You may wonder why I am doing an illo on the iPad when I'd probably do better on the regular computer or even with pen and paper. It's because of several things, among them doctor appointments (long waits in the waiting room), new toy and trying to learn the iPad. I am really disappointed because the image posted above doesn't look anything like it does on the iPad--the colors are all wrong. Way too saturated. But I ran out of time to fiddle. I needed to post those links. (Click image to view larger.)

There is a story to go with the illo, which is an excerpt from my novel in progress, Disappearing. I realize many of you are too busy to read long novel excepts, so if you don't have time, you can just leave a comment on my illo. Because I am currently working on two manuscripts, I don't have time to dream up something else to do.

* * * *

Here is the novel excerpt on this topic, which I wrote just for this post, right into the actual novel (as I did with last week's topic):

Balance (From the novel Ms, Disappearing)

Travesty's third grade notebook was set up in a similar way to the 5th grade notebook Terry had been studying earlier. Faded blue mimeos of the assignments were taped to the left side of the notebook pages and the assignments were completed by Travesty on the right side, and sometimes continued on to the next pages. Perhaps all the teachers at her school had attended a conference or a school meeting and had been taught or had agreed to do it that way.

In third grade, Travesty's writing had been larger and more awkward than it was two years later, but at the same times, more care had been taken with each letter. Terry found drafts in the notebook at the back like the ones she'd discovered in the later notebook. Terry couldn't believe how much effort Travesty had put into her work, for such a young child. There were notes and vocabulary suggestions in the drafts, which helped explain to some extent Travesty's seemingly above average writing skills, but not entirely.

Terry flipped past the essay on summer vacation and the next couple, eager though she was to read them. She knew she didn't have much time before Travesty returned, and was looking for something a little different, possibly with some fresh information about the girl. She stopped flipping when she saw the 4th assignment, which read: "Something New: Tell us about something you have just learned, not at school, but at home or somewhere outside school. Use specific sensory details from your five senses.

Yes, all the teachers must have gone to the same workshop, or they were using some general system or something, or taking handout material from the same books. Terry turned to the right to see what
Travesty had written. How old would she have been then? Maybe nine?

Look Ma, One Hand, by Travesty X Brown

Just last week, I learned to do headstands and handstands. I started with headstands. They were hard at first. My mother showed me how to put my forehead on the ground, then put my knees on my elbows, and then slowly lift my legs over my head. At first, I would sometimes do a somersault, which I'd only just learned to do last year. Or I'd get partway up and lose my balance and crash down. Or my legs would wobble all around and I would do a split if I didn't come down right away. I practiced on the rug in the living room so I wouldn't get hurt.

After a few days or maybe a week, I got so I could do it. I was so
excited. Then my Mom said, "Okay, good, now, how about a handstand?"

We walked over to Balduck Park. First Mom demonstrated how to do it. She put her hands down onto the ground and kicked her feet above her head and wobbled around a moment and then got steady. She balanced up there, put her legs together, arched her back, smiled at me and then dropped down. When she came down, she landed on her feet. My mom is pretty athletic. She used to do gymnastics before she had me. She showed me two more times, and then told me to do it. When I tried it, I started losing my balance. She grabbed my legs and held them up in the air until I was able to balance by myself. It only took me five times to get the hang of it. The first time she didn't catch my feet, I did a nosedive into the grass, and the smell of grass and greenness was in my nose all day long. I could even taste it, sort of like spinach.

Now I can do it almost every time I try. I don't even hear my heart banging in my ears any more. I've gotten used to the way the world looks upside down. I can do it in the gymnasium--I showed the gym teacher. I'm so excited about it I want to show everyone. I will do a show and tell for class if you want me to. The best thing is that once I get into a handstand with two hands, sometimes, I can lift one hand up and balance on just one hand.

Terry laughed. The teacher had given her an A++. She wondered if Travesty could still do headstands and handstands. She remembered when she had learned to do a handstand. She was in 9th grade, fourteen years old. She'd been able to do headstands since she was in second or third grade, but handstands she thought she'd never get.

Hah! She had gotten it, finally, and the pictures to prove it. She was so proud of herself and happy. The pictures were at her parent's house in upstate NY. She could picture the cabinet where her childhood the albums were stored, and was sure they were still there. She hadn't tried a handstand on land in years. She wondered if she could still do it. She probably could do in water, but that was easier, water was thicker than air and helped one get balanced. And if you fell, you fell more slowly and just floated back to the surface. Handstands in the water were fun and easy. But then again, when was the last time she'd even done one of those? Not for a while.

Terry thought about balance. It took balance to do handstands. Balance was something she had in short supply. Oh, she could walk along a fence or stand on one foot for ten minutes. But her life was
out of balance in a much deeper way, and Terry wondered briefly how she could fix that. What would a balanced life look like? She didn't have a clue.

Terry had a feeling Travesty's life was out of balance, too, no matter how good she was at handstands.
She heard Travesty coming, running into the house and then up the stairs. Terry remembered her mother saying, as a joke, "Wipe that smile off your face, you can cry, if you try." Terry wiped clean the expression of sadness she'd felt overtaking her face as she thought about her life, and replaced it with a welcoming smile for Travesty, who burst through the door grinning widely.

* * * *

I hope you have a balanced week or if not, are able to be relaxed about it.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Harvest and writing report

If you are looking for the WeekWord, it is here.

Last night, BB drove me over to the studio house.  While he brought up the trash can and checked his patch on the basement floor, I went out to check the garden.

He came out while I was still in the garden and I piled the day's harvest in his arms (later transferred them to a bag):  3 large acorn squash, 1 spaghetti squash (we'd eaten on for dinner last night, too), one yellow squash, 3 perfect okra.  It was out biggest harvest yet.  There were also lots of little ripe tomatoes which we ate out of hand, yum, like candy.

After that, I worked on my poetry Ms and my new novel.  I did have much time, so progress was limited.

Disappearing:  116-122 pp
Desire:  27-31 pp poetry is slower.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


So I wash up, go in my room, close the door and take off my bathrobe to get dressed.  

Of course, I am standing in there naked, as usual, in the interim, then stuffing my breasts into a bra etc.  Putting pad in my undies for the LEEP bleeding, which nearly done.

And then I look up and there is MAN in the tree right outside my window with a chainsaw.  Dunno how long he was there, but I suspect long enough.  :-(

If you are looking for the WeekWord, it is here.

Can I have a piggyback, Dad?

This is my take (collabortion) on one of Steve's recent Splotch Monsters. Click image to view larger.

If you are looking for the WeekWord, it is here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Yellow Lady's Slipper

I did this "painting" with Sketchpad Pro (by Autodesk) on my iPad. I did NOT touch it up on photoshop, this is straight off the iPad--I wanted it to be an untouched iPad picture. I spent several weeks working on it because Sketchpad pro is very slow (for me; I'm a newbie.) Sometimes, I used a pogo stylus, but mostly, I used my finger. I "painted" it from scratch, no photo was used. I did however, use a photo as a reference. The photo I used is one I took myself many years ago in the pouring rain. My mother stood over me with an umbrella. I did not paint all the droplets that were in the photo--that would have taken literally years to do. I just put a few representative ones in. See that floating leaf at the bottom? I tried and tried and it would not write there. So--too bad. The floating leaf is now part of the picture. C'est la vie!

If you are looking for the WeekWord, it is here.


Digital Smudge painting, another homeless man, looking for help in the form of a possible benefactor whose head appears at the top left.

His life at the moment is OUT OF BALANCE, LOL! It's not funny, except that I am using my WeekWord, of which I am the hostess this week.

If you are looking for the WeekWord, it is here.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is my brother-in-law, Paul, POSING as a homeless person. He is not homeless. I had considered the word "Homeless," but was afraid some people might not like it. If you'd like to do something on homeless, I will post that too, underneath "balance." Leave me a comment.

Monday, August 02, 2010

WeekWord: Balance

Hennie Mavis over at Runs Rampant tagged me to be the host of this week's WeekWord. I was a newbie, last week, but I am going to give it a try.

Balance is this week's WeekWord. (I hope no one has used it lately). Balance is something I seek in my life, something we need, something with lots of possibilities. I googled images for balance just to see what was out there and was pleased and astounded by all the possibilities. I haven't done any art, poetry, prose or photos on the topic in a while, so it will give me something to think about this week.

The post with the links is here.  Please add any comments or links to that post now if you would like to play along with art, photos, poems, stories, etc. Like Hennie, I will give you until midnight Friday to post. LET ME KNOW below, and I will do a second post Saturday morning and post the links to everyone's entries.  I am willing to add you in later, but I can't guarantee absolute promptness doings so.

I had another image I was going to use of a large water droplet poised and balanced on the end of a leaf, but I've misplaced it. (If I find it again, I may post it later). This is a bat, balanced by a single toe on a swaying branch. (Click image to view larger)

Here is my first "entry," which is an update/remake of a prior work I did called "Hung in the Balance, Collateral Damage." (I will do something totally brand new (for me)("nothing new under the sun"), hopefully, by Friday.) In this work, I was OUTRAGED that the military refers to the death or injury of civilians during war as "collateral damage." HUMAN LIVES! People, like you and me. :-(

(Click image to view larger.) This image is kind of cluttered, noisy, but I guess that's how I imagine war.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Anti-Homage to the Emerald Ash Borer

This is a "finger-painting" in "brushes" on my iPad of the view from the window of my studio. The tree in the foreground is a white ash which is dying as a result of the emerald ash borer. The painting was made at night, and the lower dead branches appeared bright, whereas the upper ones were dark. Click image to view larger.