Thursday, June 28, 2012

Some Heat Wave Happiness

Who doesn't love being read to? :)
Minnesota has gone tropical!

Just yesterday the temps were 90+-degrees Fahrenheit (with humidity making it feel like 100+, so sayeth the News guy).


But I just now realized that I like this kind of weather.

It's because hot days like this are the equivalent (to me) of frigid winter days -- the sun may be shining but it's dang foolish to go outside.

So what do we do? We stay IN.

And we don't feel guilty about it either! (And by 'we' I mean 'me,' of course.)

These are the only summer days that I don't mind being indoors while the sun is shining, bowed over a sketchbook with a cup of coffee at my side and a magick pencil in my hand. Can't mow the grass, I'll fall over; so there. Might as well draw!

Ooooh -- and listen to an audio book. Yeahhhhh..... :)

When James is in his studio, he likes to put on a mindless movie DVD to provide background noise and something to focus on when he needs to look away from his torch flame. But I've yet to do something similar. Unless I'm pulling an image out of my head (which requires either silence or music), I'd much prefer to listen to somebody read to me.

And I find that the person doing the reading is just as (if not more) important than the work that's being read. Stephen King narrating his own work makes my ears seize, but Jim Dale is welcome to read the fine print on my bank statements to me any day, just sayin'. 

And some books I can listen to annually for the rest of my life. (I will forever appreciate the Christmas gift of Frank Delaney's Ireland on CD. If you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about. And if you've heard it, too, you'll agree the audio version's a treasure.)

That being said, what are your favorite books on CD? And why? 

I'm all ears! :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Toast

Here's to you, my friend!

Are your ears buzzing? Can you tell I'm thinking about you?

In my head we're clinking cold bottles of Cheerwine together in a toast to summer, out front on the warm concrete step where the fragrant milkweed is blooming all around us and new butterflies are cavorting in circles over our heads.

"How was your weekend?" "Great! How was yours?" "Awesome!"

And for a bit Time will stop. The sun will warm us and make us smile. :) (<-- see?) And we'll consider the new week that begins now for us both and ponder its amazing possibilities....

After this little visit I'll get back to work again in my studio, but I will keep you fondly in my thoughts.

And whatever it is that you get back to, take joy in it! (Please? For me?)

And the next time we meet, bring a little something for Show-and-Tell. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Take a Look; It's On an iPad!

As I write this it's not even noon (so sayeth my computer; I know enough not to make eye contact with any other clockfaces around here) and already my day has been defined.

By rainbows.

My walk this morning fulfilled my inner spectrum requirements: spray of violets blooming curbside; electric-blue darning needle flitting across my path; green EVERYwhere honoring this first day of summer; white cabbage moth alight on some blooming butter-and-eggs; orange goldfinch trilling overhead; stands of wild raspberries....

The trip was a pleasure for my senses, but it was nice to return home and out of the heat and humidity. Once here again, I poured myself a glass of water and fired up the desktop computer and -- surprise! -- more rainbows.

They're everywhere today, apparently! And perhaps they're inspired by THIS. Dear, dear Levar Burton has apparently taken his beloved Reading Rainbow into the digital age and created an app for the new generation! -- kids like my grandbugs who can intuitively work an iPhone before they even learn to talk.

I was a young mom back when the series premiered on PBS in the early 80s. My Girlz and I considered it an instant hit! We soaked up every episode, making note of our favorite books and checking them out from our local library later so that we could hold them in our hands and page through them at our leisure. Titles like Gregory the Terrible Eater and A Chair For My Mother and Imogene's Antlers. Pete Seeger sharing his storysong 'Abiyoyo'. James Earl Jones bringing the rain to Kapiti Plain. Our love for all things 'Arthur' and the art of Marc Brown began there. And we discovered authors and illustrators and stories and titles that became old friends.

Even after my Girlz grew up and moved away, some mornings could still find me setting the alarm for an early broadcast rerun, or dropping everything to catch a later series' episode. There's just something about Levar and books and just being read to that's pure magick. And over the years I've collected our old faves from the series so that the grandbugs can enjoy them someday, too.

And now just writing about this has put the song in my head: "Butterfly in the skyyyyyyy, I can go twice as highhhhh..........!" I might just have to put the pencils down today and read a book. :)

Did you watch Reading Rainbow like we did? What are your favorite episodes? Was it the one where Levar visits a printing plant to see how books are made? Or the one where he tours Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts? How about the Star Trek episode? Or the one with the goats (you know which one I'm talking about!)?

Please share!

And (insert wave and best Levar impression) I'll see you next time. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Today's Treasures

Time moves mysteriously here....
So grateful right now for cool breezes billowing the lace curtains, and shades of green that only a cloudy summer's day can create.

And an old favorite Fire King mug with a cup of blistering coffee in it, each sip boiling my blood and turning my sternum to molten bone.

And so many loud ideas talking at once in my head that I have to sing them into focus!

And sticks of buttery graphite, and kneaded erasers squeezed into warm and pliable lumps, and hair long enough to be twisted into pigtails so I don't have to think about it, and a tee and jeans so soft and worn and over-sized that they're like wearing pajamaclothes.

And clocks all telling the wrong time of day so reading them is like a magic trick!

And a breathtaking book waiting in the wings, one that's still a looooong way from ending....

Already some Big Little Things have turned my day golden and (I'm guessing) it's not even noon yet.

And how about you? What has gilded your day today? :)

Monday, June 18, 2012


Don't know about you, but I needed to hear this today....
I know that feeling. You're overwhelmed, aren't you? A little panicked.

That thing you're working on, that project you're knee-deep in, that idea that you're trying to flesh out -- it's like you're just spinning your wheels, right?....

Y'know why? Because you feel rushed. You're watching Time put one foot in front of the other, and there you are: standing still. Unable to move. Or perhaps running around in circles. Or maybe even darting down one path, changing your mind, retracing your steps, and taking off down another.

And all that panicking is making you doubt yourself.  (Not to mention it's giving me hives....)

Well hang on a second.

You can DO this; you know you can! You've done it before in spades. And pink hearts and green clovers and yellow moons and blue stars. You're a creative rock star, don't forget!

But I can hear you now: "If I just had a Magick Wand That Really Works I'd make Time stop long enough for me to do what I dream...."

Well, just an FYI: you do have a Magick Wand That Really Works. But until you start believing that, I'll jump in here and use mine for the moment, 'k?

*swish -- poof!*

There. You're now operating in MY time. There's always enough here. Things might look the same where you are with their 24 hours, but trust me. Time's kicking back right now and taking a big old break.

So have fun. And relax already! It'll get done and be absolutely golden.

Trust me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Little Email That Made a Big Difference

(Yes, YOU!)
Exactly a week ago I received an email. In the message line it simply said 'Your Blog.'
At first when I saw it I got an apprehensive feeling, assuming that I'd somehow managed to offend someone somewhere. And then I thought, "Someone somewhere? I have only a handful of readers and I know who they are." But this was from someone else. Someone under my radar....
The Not-So-Daily-Maily was started by me as hopefully another way of sharing me and my work to potential Mayfaire fans. But I know absolutely nothing about the format. When it says I have x-number of subscribers, I figure those are my only readers -- friends and family who've signed up in support so it doesn't look as though I'm just lamely writing for the heck of it....
Occasionally I've posted prompts on my Mayfaire facebook page, hoping that others will be drawn to the site, but it bugs me to do so because it seems needy somehow as well as more than a little full of myself, as if I really do think I've got something important to say. When anyone really goes there as a result I'm always surprised. Because when you post to a blog and the posts go by without comment, you just assume (at least I do) that messages are going out to the Webiverse and just dissipating. And that's OK. No one's missing anything; the Maily isn't going to change the world.
Anyway, when I opened this email I was reduced to tears. It was from a reader who writes:
"What has really blown me away as I read your blogs is how many times what you write has struck such deep chords in me.  Each time you blog I find that there is a kindred spirit that says, "Yes, that is it!  I get that, too".... Your blog has helped me to find the wonder of life again.  To approach life with a childlike wonder again.... Thank you! Thank you for having the courage to share yourself with me and others!"
Holy crap.
Not only did those words make my dang day but they got inside my head and whispered, "You see!? Every one of us could be making a difference without even realizing it!"
And I want to make sure that what I'm making is a GOOD difference.
Yeah, I know -- it's not like I'm curing cancer or saving lives or healing the planet. But I would like to think that inspiring another human bean to look at life with childlike wonder has to be sort of important too, right? That's what I'm choosing to tell myself, anyway.
And just an FYI: At any given moment someone might be watching you, hearing you, reading you, observing you, learning from you, being inspired by you. You have the opportunity to make a difference! Turn it into something magickal, 'k? Because the world needs more magick. And it REALLY needs more You.
P.S. If you're reading these words, I thank the Universe for you. Love 'n hugs 'n fresh-from-the-oven, triple-chocolate-chunk brownies to you, my friend. You're not just a rock star, you're a whole dang mountain range, and I am so lucky to have you for my reader.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This morning's happy Tumbledown moments:

1. The sounds of a gentle morning thunderstorm.

2. Coffee perking and bubbling in its glass Pyrex pot.

3. An almond croissant and a cup of the hottest, strongest, blackest brew imaginable.

4. Boo curled on my lap as I sit at the keyboard.

5. Sweatshirt weather.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Fishing for Mermaids

Here she is. See the twinkle in her eye? :)
James and I drove to my Youngest's house to babysit for a bit late last Saturday afternoon, and Miss Avery (my 3-year-old grandbug) conned the two of us into watching Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' for the billionth time while she ate her supper. 
The first time we all watched it together, Avery sat between me and James on the couch and used my arm to cover her eyes when Ursula the sea witch robbed the mermaid Ariel of her voice. Then when the film was over she dubbed me Ursula and herself Ariel and we played 'Little Mermaid' together. Grampa James got to be dashing Prince Erik, a character in our play that was never called upon to do anything, and so he sat on the sidelines and watched instead. (Her little brother -- the real Prince Erik -- was not given a role at all. He apparently wasn't old enough for our game.)
I played Ursula to the best of my ability, curling my fingers and arching my eyebrows and mwa-ha-haaaaaaaaing with evil delight. It was a fun part to play and Avery soon saw the advantage in it. It didn't take long for her to switch our roles and soon she was playing Ursula most often, snatching my voice away with wicked glee and refusing to give it back. And I really played up Ariel, too -- pointing at my throat in a panic and silently begging for mercy while Avery crossed her arms and shook her head at me, ignoring my pleas. Her pretend power was obviously intoxicating, but eventually her soft heart won out and she'd zap my voice back. (Unsurprisingly, when the movie ended on Saturday she again asked me to play Ariel to her Ursula, and I couldn't help but think how important that pretend power must be to someone who's only three years old.)
At dusk last Saturday evening I walked Avery to the nearby lake to look for tadpoles while Grampa James stayed home and played with her little brother Erik. She brought her fishing pole and I brought the bucket and the two of us sat on the edge of the dock and gazed down into the shallow water while she dunked the rubber plug on the end of her line. 
"Hmmm. I'm not sure I see anything," I said. "Well, I see water bugs," said Avery. After a while she thought aloud that perhaps something would come to her 'hook' if she sang, so she did. And then she feigned a tug on her line and reeled it in. "Look Gramma, there's a mermaid on my hook! Put her in the bucket!" I grabbed the bucket and in she went.
Five invisible mermaids later, Avery pretended to catch an invisible sea witch. There was much fun shrieking and feigned panic and shouts of "throw her back!" A handful of high school kids partying on the end of the dock walked past us on their way to the parking lot and a boy (seeing the plug on the end of Avery's line) snickered, "Catch anything?" And Avery immediately piped up in her little lisp, "Uh-huh! We caught five mermaids! And a sea witch, too! But we threw her back before she could take away our voices!" 
Everyone stopped in their tracks. All that was missing was the sound of crickets. And then after a moment of stunned silence a girl whispered, "That. Is. SO. CUTE."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

One Child's Tribute


I just learned this morning that the amazing writer Ray Bradbury passed away. Ray Bradbury! My heart is sick....

One of my earliest memories is of being read to by my young mother. She'd checked a book out from the Webster County Library (amazing place full of shadows and the smell of paper and with ladders for reaching your books down from tall shelves). The book was full of short stories, and the one she read to me made the hair stand up on my neck. I connected with those words in a way that my young self couldn't describe.

I can still recall being curled up on the green sectional sofa, gazing out the living room window at Mr. Gordon's morning-glory-covered porch across the street, my bare legs in their summer shorts feeling itchy from the rough upholstery, my ears listening to words that transported me. I never forgot the story and rediscovered it again as an adult, hidden perfectly in the chapters of Dandelion Wine. Reading it once more instantly transported me back to my childhood.

Time travel. So appropriate.... And how lucky a kid was I, anyway?, having a mother who read Ray Bradbury to me!?

So many writers have shaped my life, but Mr. Bradbury holds a special place of honor. I think it's because he alone articulated what I can recall feeling in my childhood heart. Things I saw and experienced but had no words for.

It's been a million years since I was a kid. My bookshelves are now teeming with collections of his stories, things I reread often. And when I do, I am instantly connected to the young self that I once was (and still am inside), the deep thinker that felt the passage of Time and the sadness and sweet beauty of every autumn, the child that feared death and wondered about the future....

Such a kindred spirit!

Goodbye, Mr. Bradbury.... Your words will live on and move generations forever. They are carved on my heart and I will never forget you.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A More-Than-Pleasant Surprise

My door only looks like this MOST of the year...
I was typing up some future posts recently when the doorbell rang. It was so unfamiliar to me that I had to think twice about which door to answer, the front or the back....

And there on my step was a friendly face I haven't seen in ages. She'd come to my house at a time when my kitchen was full of caterpillar poop and milkweed stalks, my entryway was full of garage sale items and books to be sorted, and my sink was full of dirty dishes.

And -- without even a split second of 'can I do this?' -- I let her in. After much hugging and 'holy cow!'-ing, of course. And I cleared a chair off for her and swiped an arm across all the flotsam littering my table, and we had coffee together and we laughed and cried and caught up with each others' lives. And she actually said, "I love your house; there are so many interesting things in it!" And she meant it, too. And I tried hard not to go into apology mode and make excuses for what I saw as my crazy-ass mess.... 

(And honestly? A little part of me inside was screaming, "She said my house is interesting! Where's Mom when we need her to HEAR this!?")

Laurel (that's my friend's name) admitted that she follows this blog, bless her!, and remembers a post in which I mentioned expecting a visit from someone and spending two weeks prior to it staging my house in a way that made me feel better about it. That was NOT something that she wanted me to do, so she took a chance and simply dropped in on me instead.

'Drop ins' are one of my big fears. The prospect of them keeps me awake at night and gives me bad dreams. But surprisingly, they've only ever gone horribly awry in my head. Anyone else seems to be fine with my chaos, and our visits have gone so well that I've wondered afterwards why I'm so afraid of get-togethers....

This is the issue you want to look for!
Some of Laurel's amazing work
My friend Laurel is a passionate jewelry creator. She sells regularly at local art shows and has a wonderful Etsy store called StoneWing Designs (see it here). When our coffee was finished, we trekked together into the Village to the local bead shop (Garden of Beads) where she pored over hanks of semi-precious stones. I watched as Laurel lovingly fingered strands of gorgeous jasper and agate and draped unique color combinations across her palms, and as we talked she shared with me that her work is about to be featured in the next issue of Easy Wire. My friend and her wonderful work -- published in a magazine! She's gonna be famous, I just know it. And I'm crazy excited for her and am confident that this is the next step that will open up interesting doors for her and her unique creations.

As our impromptu get-together drew to a close, we made a date to do it all again soon. HERE. At Tumbledown. I want to see what she's made with the wonderful pieces she purchased and she wants to see where I create. I'm looking forward to it like a little kid! And just recalling how I made it through a 'drop in'  and am already excited about the future visit has me a little shell-shocked.

I've been surprising myself a lot lately.... :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's Happydance Time!

Shake your booty!
Friday -- my absolute favorite day of all! There could be a DOZEN Fridays in my week and there wouldn't be enough....

And Friday at 5 p.m. is so close to perfect that it gives me chills to think about. It's as though an unlimited weekend looms at the edge of the day, full of amazing possibilities.

In reality, there are errands to run and chores to be done, gardens to weed; the usual, of course. All pins in the bubble of my Weekend Eve.

But as Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson said, "Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless." And I agree. Fridays at 5 p.m. all I can see in my head are endless weekend hours spent in a hammock with some comics. Or a whodunit. Or a sketchbook....

And Sundays don't count. Sundays smell of Mondays. Which is why I wish I could make time stand still every Friday at 5 p.m.

So that's my wish for you: May your Weekend Eve begin on a high note -- with an old favorite book and a margarita, perhaps -- and may Time stall until you're full to overflowing with relaxation and wonder.

Kick your shoes off and chill, 'k? It's a magickal world out there. :)