Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Zen" Bamboo # 110828

Here is one of my ArtRage paintings: "Zen" Bamboo # 110828 which I did at 4 Am after not sleeping a single wink all night. Just playing.

Mr. G's Conundrum

When Jake came back from Guantanamo Bay, where he was stationed before Iraq, he brought home a cinnamon capuchin monkey he called Mr. G. Mr G loved to eat, but he had one problem. If you gave him two favorite foods, like a grape and a banana, he never knew which to eat first, so whenever we wanted to take his picture, we would cause a conundrum for him.

(This is an addition for last week's week word, conundrum. It's a tiny piece of FICTION.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

WeekWord, Conundrum and this week's participants

I am so sorry that I have been too busy to do any blogging.

Here are the participants in this weeks Weekword:

I'm sorry about the delay.

Conundrum: How can we live in the imperfect world with the lightness and joy of this tattered butterfly? How can we, in spite of all the trials of life, continue to smile and to love and to be whole in spite of our broken places? How can we deeply live our beliefs and still have time for it all? How can we give it up in the end and just be? And then--not be?

OK, so I took a little time to write a silly little doggerel to celebrate conundrum and here, ta da, it is:

Optimum Sanctum of Confusion

I gather up alyssums, chrysanthemums, and sedums

and put them in a magnum—it helps avoid the asylum.

They sooth me when I’m feeling glum, make sadness shrink to minimum,

and give me more momentum—and help me have no venom!

I write a memorandum to hold a referendum

to prevent having a tantrum about this fool conundrum.

This enigma’s such arcanum it’s too much for my cerebrum.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

110827 1st

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WeekWord: Conundrum (plus some new art on cards)

The conundrum of who we shall be. (See below) (Click images to view larger).

Greetings, Weekworders! I am hosting the WeekWord,


and I am sorry I was delayed posting about it, because I had my granddaughter Monday and doctor and dentist appointments etc yesterday.

Please leave your links below if you want to play along and IMPORTANT: Please let me know if you would like to host the WeekWord next week.

Here is what Merriam Webster says about Conundrum:

Definition of CONUNDRUM
: a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun
a : a question or problem having only a conjectural answerb : an intricate and difficult problem

Examples of CONUNDRUM

  1. conundrum of how an ancient people were able to build such massive structures without the benefit of today's knowledge and technology>
  2. … giving parents a wealth of educational options sometimes presents a familiar inner-city conundrum: What if all your choices are bad ones? —Katherine Boo,New Yorker, 9 Apr. 2001

When I decided to pick it as the WeekWord, I was thinking of a difficult puzzle that had no easy solution, such the second example given above. I had never heard of the first definition and want to find an example of it.

here's one from here:


Why is an author like a Chinaman?

Because his tale (tail) comes out of his head.

~ ~ ~

Here are conundrums of a more serious nature facing us today:

Who are we going to be?

  1. The Environment: Are we going to save the world or let big industry destroy it?Literally? Our children? Our grandchildren? Will we kill our progeny with our greed?
  2. War and Peace: Are we going to kill innocent children and people so that the war machine can prosper? How can we do something no society has ever succeeded in doing: create real peace before it's too late?

You can see by my illustration of the bloodthirsty wolf above how much faith I have in us to solve these real, serious, and maybe final problems we face. I don't have any answers, I'm sorry to say. :-(

and here are my new hand-decorated cards:

I finally got another set of the Sakura Gelly Roll Pens I ordered a while back, and since they were new to me, I was eager to try them, but since I don't have a mole, I decided to make cards. These are cards with envelopes, Strathmore Drawing cards, my first time trying them, too.

The Chrysanthemums will be for Ballookey's pocket--I think it is Ballookey's book I get next, and the mandala, which is called, "What if all of Creation were in the hands of an unsteady Goddess?" is for Hennie Mavis. The shown colors aren't quite right. Close, but no cigar.

I guess I too am busy looking the other way.

I wrote a new poem that relates to conundrum, in a sort of oblique but definite way. You can see it here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keith and the Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly

This is one of my ArtRage paintings: Keith and the Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly

I know, it's still a long ways from excellence, but I am working on my 10,000 hours.
Today, we rode out motorcycles through the rain to the Nature Center at Metrobeach, had a delightful walk (the sun came out!), and after walking, went into the nature center.  The naturalist allowed us to watch two monarch caterpillars pupating into chrysalises. She showed us eggs and tiny babies and chrysalises ready to turn into monarchs and we saw an adult she had just released outside.  Among the other things we saw were juvenile black-crowned night herons, several of them, swans and ducks and flowers and lots of frogs and toads. I painted this during dinner.

To see the image better (small details of life cycle), click on the image to enlarge it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Working on my 10,000 hours

A rough sketch of hubby BB, also known as Keith, done last night at the dinner table from life. I haven't got it yet, may die of old age before I do--but I still have fun trying! :-D

Friday, August 19, 2011

WeekWord: Tenacious (Tenacity)

Killer (Amigo) and Tiny Lee Latham have a tenacious friendship--see story below.

The WeekWord this week is Tenacious.

So far, we have the following participants (besides me):

I will add others if/when they appear. If you would like to participate, leave a comment below. I will away part of the day and evening, so I will the names when I can.

This will be my post, it is currently under construction. I will remove this note when it is finished.

I chose the word tenacious (tenacity) because I feel I need more of it. As personality trait, think of tenacity, for example, as the ability to hold fast to a goal or a belief and not let go in the face of challenge and hardship. Tenacity is the ability to stick with a project through to completion even when difficulties arise. I would like to be more tenacious in that respect!

In the process of looking up the meanings of the word Tenacious on the Webster dictionary site, I discovered that they had a list of words that rhyme with tenacious. Taking those words (I used all of them), I made a little "poem" (DOGGEREL!) for the WeekWord:

Pertinacious in Love, a Silly Little Doggerel for Aging Tenacity

Sometimes I feel audacious, perhaps even bodacious;

Because I am edacious (which often means voracious),

I’m curvaceous and cetaceous and a little bit drupaceous.

Though my heart is quite capacious and I often am flirtatious,

I rarely am capricious and seldom wholly hellacious.

When my bare feet grow crustaceous and moods slip by fugacious,

my words won’t turn fallacious and I’ll still hold on, tenacious.

Mary Stebbins Taitt, for Keith, and for Robert his birthday

I then wrote a little short short story. I wanted to write a flash fiction piece, but this turned out a little longer than I'd intended. Still, I hope it is short enough for you to read (if you're too busy, I forgive you.) The illustration above goes with the story, which, although written as a memoir, is actually fiction:

Miss Lothrop’s 7th grade English

Tiny Lee Latham

2nd period

Doing His Job

Tenacity, Extra Credit Vocabulary “Memoir”

When my brother Jake came back from Iraq, he brought a pit bull, Killer. The army dog squad was going to put Killer down because he was so mean, so Jake brought him home thinking maybe I could tame him. People in Mountain Home call me "The Whisperer," because animals like me. I don't whisper to them, though, not like in the movies. When Killer arrived, despite his name and reputation, he was a wimp. He hid under the back porch and would not come out, except at night when no one was around. Jake says that some of the army dog trainers beat the dogs to make them mean. I believe it. Killer has nightmares. He cries and whines and yips and cringes in his sleep

Jake locked Killer in the chain-link pen behind the house where Fonsie, our blue tick, used to hang out before he finally gave in to old age and decrepitude. I was assigned the task of feeding Killer. In addition to his daily ration of kibbles, I snuck him all the codfish cakes, hotdogs, over-salted ham and other crappy food Mom gave me. She insists I have sit at the table until I finish my dinner if it takes all night. Grandma taught me to hide plastic bags in my pockets, and when my mother tired of watching me like a hawk, I'd slip the goodies into the bag and give them to Killer.

I put his food into the hole Killer dug in order to crawl under the porch, and put the treats on top. Every day, I enlarged the hole a little, moved the dish further into the hole and climbed a little farther in myself.

I talked to Killer. I didn't whisper, but I did kind of croon the way Mom speaks to a baby. I told him he was pretty, even though I couldn't see him, hiding in the dark under the porch. He's not exactly pretty. He's plain brown, kind of tan-brown, a few spots, a wide head, pointed ears. But when I said pretty, I didn't mean pretty like a movie star or pretty is as pretty does. What I meant is, "You could be my friend, and I will be your friend, and you won't be alone any more." Once I realized what I meant, I said that, too.

I took Pa’s has a hand drill. I turned the handle slowly and its corkscrew bit into the wood. Little curls of wood spiraled out through the hole in progress. After I turned it for so long that my arms got tired, a hole appeared, all the way through. Each day, I drilled a hole in the side of the porch. Each hole is a little smaller than a quarter. At first, I put them a foot apart. I measured with my yardstick. Then I drilled halfway between.

Meanwhile, I wormed my way slowly under the porch, a few inches closer each day, until one day, I emerged all the way out of the tunnel and into the cave where Killer huddled in a corner. By then, I’d made enough holes so I could see him, dimly, and I held a fat piece of steak that Grandma got from the all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet, after she was too full to stuff any more in her belly. The plastic bag trick. I held the steak and called the dog. I didn’t call him Killer; I called him “Amigo.” I sat, held the steak out with an outstretched arm, waited, and slowly he came over, took it, ran back to his corner and bolted it. I told him he was a good dog.

Every day, I moved my hand closer to my body until he finally let me pet him. For a month, every day, I just petted him and fed him and crooned to him, my Amigo. My friend. Everyone else still referred to him as Killer.

One evening, Jimmy-Jeff Fairchild climbed over the fence just as I was emerging from the hole I had lined with old rugs, so I wouldn’t get dirty climbing in and out of Killer’s den. Jimmy-Jeff was carrying a pillowcase. All the lights were out in the house and no one was home but me and I’d been in with Amigo so long it had gotten dark. Looked like Jimmy Jeff intended to rob us.

He tossed the pillowcase onto the porch and grabbed my breast and my crotch and knocked me down, almost into some dog poop. I kicked and pummeled him and Killer, who'd only come out from under the back porch at night to do his business came charging out and latched on to the Jimmy-Jeff’s leg. He would not let go. Jimmy-Jeff, who is only a couple years older than I am and kind of skinny, pounded Killer with his fists and kicked with his other foot. Killer held on. Mom had taken Slime Mold, my other brother, to some soccer game in Timbuktu, and Pa was working the evening shift. I called Pa at work and he called the cops and came straight home.

The cops arrested Jimmy-Jeff. Killer let the cops and Dad pet him and praise him. He must have thought he was doing his job—the one he was trained for. Jimmy-Jeff spent the night in the tank. When the cops pulled up the kid's sweatpants, Jimmy-Jeff had marks from Killer’s teeth, but they weren't deep. Killer, my Amigo, was fairly gentle. He just held on. The cops said the most damage was from his struggling.

Dad said, as he looked at Killer, "That dog sure is ‘tenacious.’” And then he looked at me and smiled. “Just like my daughter,” he added, smiling. “It took a lot of tenacity to tame that beast, and Tiny Lee, you did it.”

Mary Stebbins Taitt

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

WeekWord, Tenacious (Or Tenacity)

Sometimes, the grandchildren have a tenacious hold on Grandpa!

Carmen over at Biomouse (Check out her cool post for quixotic) has invited me to host the WeekWord this week, and I agreed, with caveats--my computer is messing up. However, I hope it will work well enough to allow me to do this.

I have tentatively chosen the word

Tenacious (or tenacity)

as the word for this week.

As personality trait, think of tenacity, for example, as the ability to hold fast to a goal or a belief and not let go in the face of challenge and hardship. Tenacity is the ability to stick with a project through to completion even when difficulties arise. I would like to be more tenacious in that respect!

I see tenacity as an admirable quality as opposed to pure stubbornness which could be a bad thing. A fine line divides the two.

This is a short week, since this is already Wednesday, and I was away much of the day; I just got home. If that word was recently used, I have some others in mind, let me know.

If you want to play along, please leave a note below. Hopefully, Friday, or Saturday, for the late players, I will post the links. I would deeply appreciate it if anyone who can would give me ACTUAL LINKS to your posts.

I do not know how to make this word/post appear in the portal.

Here is the official definition from Webster:

Definition of TENACIOUS
a : not easily pulled apart : cohesive tenacious metal>

b : tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance <tenacious burs>
a : persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired tenacious advocate of civil rights> <tenacious negotiators>

Examples of TENACIOUS
  1. The company has a tenacious hold on the market.

  2. tenacious trainer, she adheres to her grueling swimming schedule no matter what>

  3. But raw capitalism has also proved tenacious, evolving its own means of endlessly restimulating consumption … —Nicholas Fraser, Harper's, November 2003

  4. [+]more
Latin tenac-, tenax tending to hold fast, from tenēre to hold
First Known Use: 1607
Related to TENACIOUS
Antonyms: nonadhesive
See Synonym Discussion at strong
Rhymes with TENACIOUS

Let me know if this is a bad word (too recently used?) and I'll choose another.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Frayed Rope, Collaboration with Gretchen and Roma

I wanted to use the same pens Gretchen used in this collaboration, and I sent away for them, and waited and when they came, I was away for a week. turns out they aren't exactly the same anyway. But they look closer in person than they do here.

The other thing is that these are metallic. They're shinier than they look here. To view larger, click on the image.

This is a collaboration with both Gretchen and Roma, sort of. I used Roma's frayed rope girl on a swing. I'm picturing her swinging from a hot air balloon. My hands aren't as steady and Gretchen's, either, I'm sorry to say. If you'd like to see Gretchen's original first half of the collaboration, it is here. Roma's is here.

Strings, a small sad poem

I hooked up the computer Laurent gave me to check it out and wrote a little poem. It's not a very cheery poem because there was some depressing music on the radio, but I dedicated it to Laurent, since it was "his" computer:


The sad saw of violins, cellos, bass
lowers the temperature in the room
five degrees, ten degrees, twenty degrees.
Snow falls from the darkening ceiling,
gathers on the small shelves of our lips
and filters through our minds, erasing
hope and love and leaving
only blank white in its wake,
white that greys and darkens
until every tear is frozen
in night's icy symphony.

Mary Taitt
for Laurent
110814 1st

Thursday, August 11, 2011

week word: Quixotic

The Weekword this week, quixotic, is being hosted by Carmen at Tales of a Biomouse. Take a moment to visit her to see her take on the word and the other weekworders who are particiapting. It is always fun and informative, so why not join in? Let Carmen know.

I am going to place the Webster definitions and synonyms at the END of this post for inquiring minds.

I love the word quixotic, and its many implications, but it is not a word I use often, so I don't have a lot of preformed thoughts about it. I did, of course, read Don Quixote, many years ago.

The quick little sketch above represents one of my more positive images of quixotic, one of silly delight and happy explorations.

This morning, my first task was to write a poem on the theme of "quixotic," and below is the poem I wrote. I surprised myself, it was not what I expected to write and does not contain the word quixotic, but instead, an idea of quixotic is contained or reflected in the poem:

From the Teeth of a Shrew

I write microscopic poems, each line etched

on a grain of rice, each grain strung on a gossamer strand

and hung in the trees like holiday garlands,

though the August sun and the abundance

of black-eyed Susans speak of another season. Birds

lift the tiny poems from the trees and weave them

into their nests. Squirrels eat them for breakfast and children

drape them round their necks and set my words

to a music of lilting chants. See how I dance

on the roof-tops, small hands clasped in mine.

If you found a poem in the teeth of a rat

or among the entrails of a mole the cat

dragged in, you might recognize the words,

buffed to a polish with finer and finer scratches,

but torn ragged, first, from dreams

we share.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

for Bill Olsen

(I really dislike the formatting and do not know how to undo it all. I tried rich text, and that put in tons of formatting.)

The young are often quixotic in their idealism, their adventurous spirits, their willingness to do battle for what they believe in. This is my son, in a performance at school. I used to be quixotic, in this sense when I was younger, and wish I could reclaim some of that.

Here is a self-portrait of me, feeling "quixotic," ready to go out adventuring and tilt some windmills:

Of course, I will have to take along my CPAP and some tylenol for my fibromyalgia!

From Webster, the definitions and synonyms:


adj \kwik-ˈsä-tik\

Definition of QUIXOTIC

: foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals;especially : marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action
quix·ot·i·cal adjective
quix·ot·i·cal·ly adverb

Examples of QUIXOTIC

  1. They had quixotic dreams about the future.
  2. quixotic>
  3. In … an earnest book-length essay of neo-Victorian public-mindedness that deplores the nasty, knowing abuse that the author would have us fear contaminates too much American humor lately, David Denby, a movie critic forThe New Yorker, sets for himself what has to be one of the most quixotic projects that a moral reformer can undertake. —Walter Kirn, New York Times Book Review, 22 Feb. 2009

Origin of QUIXOTIC

Don Quixote
First Known Use: 1718

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Biker Buddy in pencil

Here is another pocket item for Andrea:

It is a sketch I made separately, since I didn't know how many pages in the mole I should use. I made it with a pencil from Andrea. Seemed fitting.

two kinds of pain

I don't like pain.  It hurts.

My fibromyalgia has been flaring up for several days to the point of being unpleasantly painful.

I can hardly believe the state young people have fallen to . . . (people have been saying that for generations--and maybe it was true, but it seems the worst yet now!)  

"Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way . . ."

We were a long ways from perfect, but today, young people have no respect. (Or very little).

Two new sketchbook pieces and the card giveaway note

I got some new pens from Andrea--0h goodie--for participating in her collaboration challenge on Something Different. I love those blue energels. I doodled a little doodle first in the back of my Round ONE Mole--which still has some blank pages. Once I got a feel for them, I did a collaborative piece for Ammon. I have one more piece to do in Andrea's Mole, sorry it's taking so long--but it's a good thing I did not take the mole with me, because we got POURED ON camping and everything got soaked!!!! These came out in the wrong order. The collaboration is on top. The doodle to try out the pens is on the bottom. Both images enlarge if you click on them. The doodle enlarges to bigger than it is in real life, at least on my screen.

The Card Giveaway I am going to try to do tomorrow. If nothing goes wrong. So far, something has gone wrong every single day for a whole string of days, but maybe tomorrow will be an exception.

By the way, the collaborative piece is intended for Ammon, but if anyone else would like to play, I'd love to see what you might do with this.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Tattered Swallowtail

From Laurel Hill State Park in Pennsylvania, Lake Trail. by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt. Click image to view larger.

Back from Rehoboth Beach

We're made it safely home and need to finish unpacking and drying and repacking all our soaked gear! We got caught in a downpour trying to break camp yesterday morning.

Shown in this picture from left to right: My broth Tom, my brother Rob, and me. In the background, Rehoboth Beach at twilight, from the boardwalk.

It will take me a while to get caught up!

(Click image to view larger.)