Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Cup Overfloweth

'Green Girl' by delayne
It's Thanksgiving Day. And I've said this before but I'm saying it again. Today (and every day) I'm so thankful for:
Twenty-four whole hours. I must remember to spend them responsibly and not take them for granted.
Good health, strong limbs, decent mental faculties, and some experience under my belt. I like the age I am! And fifty-eight years are more than many are blessed with.

My imagination and my curiosity. It's always interesting in here! And I am never bored....

A house that shelters me, warms me, cocoons me, welcomes me, and is so full of character that it has its own name.

A guy in my life who defies description. I could write all day about why I'm so thankful for him and my list wouldn't be finished.

My girls all grown-up and uber-responsible, with good men in their lives and children that are dipped in GOLD. (SO thankful to be a gramma!)

Grandbugs that make my world go 'round and my socks go up and down. 

A family that is healthy, happy, and independent, one that can hold each other close and yet let go....

Friends who put up with the stupid stuff I do and still manage to like me. 

Pets past, present, and future. I can't live without creatures in my life. I just can't....

All the wonderful books I've read, music I've heard, and art I've seen that opened my mind and made me think, moved me, or just plain entertained me, and the gifted folks who created them.

Our veterans and active-duty servicemen/women, and others who risk their lives or sacrifice themselves for our health, well-being, safety, or freedom.

The living things that have to die so I can live.

A generous Earth. I give her a seed and she thanks me with a harvest.

A Higher Power that doesn't seem mind that the two of us commune together over a sunrise or under the stars instead of in a church. I even suspect S/He prefers it that way.

And you. Reading this. So dang thankful for YOU. :)


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Happy Thoughts and Happy Thotz

My 2nd copy. I'm hard on this book....

For ages now I've sent out a daily email to a few friends and family members, an email inspired by a book I consider to be a lifesaver.

It all began a long time ago when someone gave me a page-a-day desk calendar for Christmas based on Barbara Ann Kipfer's 14,000 Things to be Happy About. Each page of the calendar featured a selection of five pleasant things meant to inspire my happiness.

And they did.

I kept the calendar on my desk at the office where I worked at the time, and some days most days every dang day those happy thoughts were my lifeline.

First thing every morning I shared the day's calendar page with three people -- my James, a mutual friend of ours, and a fellow co-worker -- by sending them the list of happy suggestions typed up in an email which I began referring to as the 'Happy Thotz.' (Yeah, I thought the misspelling was clever at the time....)

Some days the Calendar would inspire me to change up the list or add my own variations to it. Sometimes it would cause one or more of us to come up with our own things to be happy about and share them with the others. Sometimes it would spark a dialogue or take us on a tangent. And more than once it caused all hell to break loose.

But it always inspired something.

And because of that I looked forward to pushing the 'send' button and then anticipating a response. And I'm not lying when I say that the daily interaction with those particular people was monumental; it got me through one of the most stressful jobs I've ever had. And I owe it all to Ms. Kipfer and her inspirational book.
I no longer work at that office. I work at home for myself. But Barbara Kipfer's book is right next to my desk and I still send out the daily Thotz email. It's since evolved to include a bunch of other stuff in addition to the author's suggestions of things for which to be happy. I'm careful to give her credit, of course, and over the years I like to think I've helped add to her teeming list of fans. But her pleasant suggestions have since become just a small part of the email I send.

And the tradition continues because I'd be lost if it didn't. I write the Thotz to keep in touch with those I care about. I write them to hopefully entertain someone and brighten their day. I write them to learn stuff about myself (BOY, do I learn stuff about myself!). I write them because I just have to. They're like my blog posts, only on the fly. More me than I feel comfortable being here. In that respect, I guess they're still a lifeline....

Today that daily email goes out to a handful of friends and family. I'm told some even go on to share it with others. And -- the whole point of this post (I'm so wordy!) -- this afternoon it may even have gone out to YOU, here at the Not-So-Daily Maily.

That wasn't supposed to happen.

It did because I'm able to write blog posts in my email program and send them here from there, and this blog's address just so happens to be right next to the list of individuals I routinely message. And today I was careless and accidentally included the Maily as one of my recipients....


But I think I caught it in time. Still, if you subscribe to my blog and received a Not-So-Daily Maily post from me in your email today that looks nothing like THIS post, I apologize for sending it to you in error.

If you received it, I kind of hope you read it. And if you read it, I really hope you found it worth your while. But, if nothing else, may my mistake be Ms. Kipfer's gain: Check out her creative and whimsical website HERE, follow her inspirational tweets on Twitter HERE.

May her suggestions make you smile and inspire your happiness.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Catching My Breath

Fest is one big thing I love about my year, but it overlaps everything else I love about it, too. It comes just as my favorite season begins. And by its final weekend, Autumn is close to being spent.

Harvesting the garden, canning tomatoes, planning for Halloween, celebrating my birthday, just appreciating the Fall colors at my leisure -- all the things I long to immerse myself in get shelved or rescheduled or just plain crossed off my list as I deal with post-Fest nonsense: shop flotsam, heaps of costumes, boxes of dusty prints, art order follow-ups, the clearing out and closing up and securing of Mayfaire....

This year was no exception. But it was an unusual post-Fest time for me that involved more on my agenda than ever before, and today feels like my first real day to assess where I am in the grand scheme of my season. I'm upright, which is a good thing; but I can feel the annual bout of respiratory 'fest chest' dancing along the edges of my lungs. It's been there since September and greets me every morning, and so far I've managed to hold it at bay somehow while I deal with more important things that have filled up my days and made time speed by. Ups and downs, highs and lows; a rollercoaster Fall. I've tried holding it together, and I think I've done OK at it, too.

But it's already late October. The trees have peaked and shed their leaves. Mayfaire still needs putting to bed! The gardens do, too. My birthday's back there somewhere, and Halloween is already under way. And I can scratch 'canning' off my list again. I'm so behind....

Every year I imagine my Autumn to be a time of cocooning. A time of retreating and re-assessing, moving slow, going within. I look forward to battening down the hatches while outside the seasons change and eventually snow me in with my thoughts and blank paper. That 'nothingness' is the only thing that fills my well, and right now my well is so done.

But one doesn't need a full well to rake leaves, right? Or strip milkweed pods. Or put gardens to bed. There's a 'nothingness' in those tasks that can be fulfilling.


Best get to them then. This well is bone dry.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Be Sure to Bring Your Appetite -- :)

ALREADY it's the last weekend of Fest, and I've got so much to tell you that I'm not sure where to start. At the beginning, I guess. And it's in there somewhere, in the filled-to-the-brim kettle of tasty Fest fare that I'm eager to share with you....

But before I dish us both up, I should probably focus all my attention on this final huzzah, right?

So it's back to work for me! Sooooo much to do before this final 3-day weekend (which includes Festival Friday -- one of the best showdays to visit me if you've left Fest until the last minute). And if I see you, my friend, be prepared for a hug! PLEASE don't forget to introduce yourself (or re-introduce yourself; I'm old and forgetful now) because I don't want you to walk away without one, OK? I'm that grateful for you.

And I promise: Now that my thoughts and impressions of this Fest season have simmered, I'll serve them up to you soon so we can both sit down at our leisure and savor the story of Mayfaire's 29th year. I think it's lifechanging! But I think a good cup of coffee is lifechanging. :)

It's all in what you make it, right?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Magickal Moments

Life is overwhelming right now, and there's little time to write. But I can at least direct you to some magick that occurred earlier today, right here in my kitchen. I love these little pauses in my busy day. They give me hope. :)

This first little video is of one of my monarch caterpillars finishing up the process of molting. It includes a first-time event for me (even after all these decades of caterpillar raising):

And the second video shows a monarch caterpillar making its chrysalis. Such a wonder!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Brainstorming with Butterflies

I've got some news.

The kind that came into my head just a second ago, it seems.

And it's still so fresh that I really shouldn't be saying anything about it, probably, until I've thought it through....

But when my head explodes with an idea, it helps me to write about it. And when I write, it helps me to write to YOU. Because you help me think straight....

This idea exploded in my head over the weekend, and since then all the dry tinder in my brain has caught fire. And after talking to you about it here I was originally going to ask for your opinion and support, but y'know what? Although you're welcome to weigh in (and I'll be monumentally appreciative if you do), in the end it's not going to matter one way or the other. Because I still want to explore this and see where I can take it....

That being said, here we go:

Generation 1 of this year's monarch herd here at Tumbledown has fledged, and we're already up to our necks in Generation 2.

Last year seemed to start late for us. If I remember correctly, Tumbledown saw nary an egg, caterpillar, or butterfly until late June or early July (don't know where my records are at the moment, so I could be wrong, although that seems accurate), and our final fledgling count was only in the 30-somethings....

A far cry from the nearly 300 that we'd raised just a short couple years prior!

But this season has so far exceeded my expectations. We've already surpassed last year's 30-something with Generation 1. And now there's twice that in my kitchen as Generation 2 gets underway.

Granted, I've gone above-and-beyond this year (in my opinion) to make sure we at least beat last year's numbers. I've haunted all dang sorts of swampy locales and lone milkweed patches in the search for eggs and larvae, and I've got the mosquito bites to prove it! I even frantically ran ahead of the City's municipal mowers recently as they prepared to coif the verges of my area's little walking path, the one that goes by Postage Stamp Pond at the end of my neighborhood. I've gotten GOOD at spotting caterpillar 'eatage' from three yards away, even without my specs!, and I returned home with another collection of eggs and hatchlings. Rescued from the blades of death! I felt proud of myself. :)

Individually feeding 60+ caterpillars takes time. For one person it's like a part-time job. I grumble about it, especially when I stumble out of bed in the morning and fumble for the kettle only to see an army of plastic beer cups full of caterpillars and caterpillar poop, and not a milkweed crumb in sight. In my head I imagine them raised up on their back halves, pointing to their gaping maws like Simon's Cat.... And then the kettle's forgotten as I step outside in my jammies to pick leaves and get to work.

I'm passionate about my monarchs. I always have been. And even more so now that their population is dwindling and they're in danger of future extinction.... I keep thinking I can do more!

And then over the weekend it hit me.

I can do LOTS more.

I can give them not only my time and my attention and the bulk of my kitchen. I can give them my ideas and my imagination and my art skills as well.

And I can start NOW.

Fest is just a few short weeks away, and I might not be prepared with everything that I've been brainstorming since the weekend's slap upside the head. But if you could only see what I'm imagining! -- products and artwork and seed packets, oh my; the sales of which will benefit the butterflies! The potential is EPIC.

And even if I eventually do a typical 'delayne' -- that thing of dipping my wings in the water before seeing the next big shiny Idea and moving on -- THIS is burning in my heart right now. And I need something burning in my heart again, dammit....

So that's it. My big idea. My news. It feels right. And I'm excited to explore it!

And I think I've got this guy's vote. :)


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Still Here

I've been far from the keyboard lately, up to my neck in the busy-ness that is summer here at Tumbledown.

There have been big blissful grandbug moments and hot sunny days plucked from a Calvin-and-Hobbes strip. And, of course, I'm still trying to digest my recent Trip of a Lifetime, put my impressions in order, make wonderful magickal sense of it all.

It's butterfly season, too, and all is in full swing here. Stacks of caterpillar-filled plastic beer cups line my kitchen countertops right now -- a MUCH better season this year than in the recent past. My days start and end with milkweed as I try to save the world one monarch butterfly at a time. It's not much in the grand scheme of things, I know, but I like to think I'm making a difference somehow.

Plus, the Renaissance Festival is just a few short weeks away. So much to do and prepare for, set up and consider! I see it in my head and feel both anxious and eager.

So much on my plate right now. And then there's YOU-- in my thoughts every day.

The last time I wrote was a while ago, wasn't it? A whole month has passed without a post.... I was in a mood then. And after pressing the 'publish' button I backed away from the keyboard and had a hard time returning to it.


As you know, the post was all about 'losing friends and negatively influencing people,' and I was feeling somewhat unloved....

But as one awesome Facebook friend would later put it, "...if some people come and go, be grateful for those who will always stay!" So I know now that my focus was in the wrong place, on the wrong people. There are folks here who are devoted, constant, steadfast, willing to take my bad with my good (bless you!; I'm so grateful that you're here that I want to go there and give you a big hug), and they're the ones I should be focusing on.

Wonderful people.

Like you.

I heart you, my friend; I hope you know that.... And plan to hear from me again soon, OK? Because lots has happened. And I have lots to tell you.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Doing the 'Unfriend' Fandago

Know what's funny? I always draw myself as a kid. What's up with that??
You know who's good at losing two Facebook fans for every single fan she gains? This girl.

Each time I think I'm hitting my stride, I go and share something that bugs a few folks and they leave me.

Most of the time I find it hilarious. Unless I'm in one of those frames of mind -- you know the kind; the low-esteem, full-of-self-doubt kind -- and then I worry. Why did they 'unfriend' me? What did I do to make them decide not to be a fan any longer? Did I sound too honest? Did I sound dishonest?

And yeah, I'm making it seem as though they run away in spades when really it's only a few at most. But, dang it, they do it all at once and I panic when that happens.

It seems like I begin losing fans when I post something that sounds 'less than perfect.' Like maybe about struggling with a creative block or doubting my artistic abilities. I get that posts like those aren't fun to read. But they're Me being Honest.

And I think honesty's important. There's nothing worse than reading an artist's blog that seems too good to be true. It makes me wonder what's wrong with me that my creative life isn't that perfect. And eventually I begin to dislike the blogger, as if they're responsible for making me feel bad about myself....

But do I continue to follow them? Of course! Even if it's not 100% true, their life still seems to be pure MAGIC. Every thing they do works out, looks great, sells immediately, gets rave reviews. Creative blocks? Never!

And I want that.

However, now I'm also on the lookout for that chink in their armor. And when I find it, there's that "A-hah, I knew it!" victory rush inside and I'm suddenly able to cut myself some slack. "Hey, we can be friends again because they're flawed, too, just like me!" Only I admit it -- up, down, and sideways....

I'm always admitting it.

It's one of the first things I tell people about myself, actually.

And maybe that's my problem....?


Anyway -- (*gives self a good shake*) -- in the case of my own blogging, time passes. I pick myself up. I tell myself that it's OK to feel what I feel, it's OK to have doubts, it's OK to express them. I don't have to apologize for what's going on in my head. It's a struggle in here! Some days are creative gold; I think I'm making progress, learning big carved-in-stone things about myself, finding my definitive voice. And then moments later I question it all.

I can't be the only human bean on this rock who rediscovers herself anew each day and wonders just who the heck she was the day before. My layers-upon-layers are painful to peel sometimes, but it's fascinating to see what each uncovers. Some things stay the same (sort of) and just get more antiqued and beautified (or just more weathered and less sharp and pokey). Other things just gradually wear away. I'm never the same, never 100% the bean I was yesterday, not yet the interesting one I'll be tomorrow.

That pleases me. I like my layers! And I guess those 'unfriends' are gonna miss all the fun of the future.

Bummer for them. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Adrift in the Space Between

Photo: Grandiloquent Word of the Day: Hiraeth
-A Welsh word that has no direct English translation. The University of Wales, Lampeter attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, and the earnest desire for the past.

Hiraeth bears considerable similarities with the Portuguese concept of saudade (a key theme in Fado music), Galician morriƱa and Romanian dor.

Used in a sentence:
"Every time I drive down the street where I grew up, I am overcome with hiraeth..."
Courtesy of Grandiloquent Word of the Day

I caught the clock switch itself to 11:11 today and I made my wish.

I wished that I'd get my groove back....

Since my return, I've repeatedly sat down to paper and pencil, and -- nothing.


Zip, zero, zilch....

Not a doodle. Not even a word....


It's not that England wasn't supremely inspirational. (Holy hedgehogs, was it inspirational!) And it's not like I've really had time to draw since touching down again in Minnesota. But time is critical now. Fest is just minutes away and I've got art to create! LOTS of it.

But if shutting down and immersing myself in my memories is so important, can't I do both?

Apparently not.... I've tried....

My big plan was to bring art supplies with me to the UK. Sketch on the plane, do a drawing-a-day, photograph my quickly scribbled impressions and share them with you via social media. Didn't happen. There was no TIME, for one thing. Paper and pencil felt foreign to me, too, like trying to draw with a rock on the water.

And you saw how well I kept in touch.... Even if technology had cooperated, nothing I did -- write, draw, even photograph -- made sense to me. It was all so feeble and disappointing and not a bit like the amazing extraordinariness that I was trying to capture! It was as though some strange force field was scrambling my skills and preventing me from expressing my experience. And since my return I've yet to figure out how to shut the damn thing down....

I've had creative blocks before, and I've worked them out. But this still feels different. Foreign. Like more than just a block. A wall, maybe. Something BIG. Something not-see-overable....

This morning I opened an email from My Inner Pilot Light (go here, sign up, do it!, you'll thank me). It mentions the magickal place it calls The Space Between:
"...between where you were last and where you are going. It’s important to stop here to get crystal clear on some specifics before you can continue on."
I doubt that my creative block is what it's referring to, exactly, but the poke I felt as I read it seemed important....

And then just moments later I was gifted the word 'hiraeth' -- it came at me from multiple sources at once. Friends used it in a sentence, shared it in a comment, and then it came up in my Facebook feed. The site Grandiloquent Word of the Day (follow the blog HERE, 'like' the Facebook page HERE, do it!, you'll thank me again) gives this definition:
"A Welsh word that has no direct English translation. The University of Wales, Lampeter attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, and the earnest desire for the past."
And that's when an a-ha moment began somewhere in my very busy head. I've yet to sort it out and make sense of it, but it's getting clearer as I write about it now. I am still processing, obviously. And missing the magickal heck out of my English visit.

But I can't just recall it fondly while otherwise forcing myself to get back to Minnesota Normal -- frantically cleaning, weeding, unpacking, grandbugsitting, fill-in-the-blanking, all while trying to force myself to be creative, too. Time to seriously unplug and immerse myself. Time to imagine floating on a still and glassy sea, adrift in the gently rocking boat of the Space Between -- where nothing can happen, really, until the tide comes in again.

Makes sense. Plus just imagining it now feels safe and comforting and right, like it's all part of the plan.

And if it helps, who's to say that's not the case?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Gathering the Ingredients

Been home nearly a week already and every day has been full-to-overflowing. There are pets to reconnect with, gardens to weed, grandbugs to wrangle, Mayfaire biz to take care of, suitcases to unpack (still), and big thoughts to think....

The list is LONG and I can only address one thing at a time (because I've forgotten how to multi-task, apparently), and the more that queues up for my attention, the fainter my England trip grows.

I've become the kind of human bean that experiences even the simplest of events with every sense available (and I'm not kidding, I think I grew some extra ones over the years; it might be my mutant X-Men power....). And afterwards I almost have to shut down, go far into my head, mix the ingredients of my experience, bake them, taste them, savor them, and enjoy their leftovers x 100 in order to feel like I've Been There, Done That.

But that hasn't happened yet with my Trip Of A Lifetime, and my memories of England are growing a little stale....

My body has ways of dealing with stress -- it waits for the first sign of a lull and then pulls the plug -- and this morning I woke with a Mucinex® commercial playing out in my lungs. It was a phlegm Frat Party down there! And verbally evicting the celebrants was out of the question as I'd even lost my voice. :(

However, today began with rain and shadows. It's the American twin of Derbyshire out there. No lawn work for me today. So my plan is to unplug even further and go within. Mix the heavy ingredients of my English recipe and steam them. Baptize the results with a sip of spirits so they stay moist and tasty forever. Then indulge at my leisure.

And share in little bits, of course. Even the smallest of servings is rich beyond measure.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Feet On The Ground Again

I'm back....

This is both a happy and a sad thing, as I didn't realize how much I was going to miss England until I had to fly away from it. (Nor how much I'd missed Minnesota until I returned to it....)

My original intention was to take you with me: get off the plane in Manchester and stay connected by updating my posts often, blogging at least daily, and otherwise filling you in on every moment as it was happening. But seriously, my mind was boggled! And wi-fi opportunities were spotty at best. Things just didn't work out the way I'd hoped.

And it was a good thing they hadn't. I see that now. Because right from Square One I realized how monumental this trip was for me and how lifechanging it would be, and I began to tuck it in my heart and protect it.

It all felt so singular and holy, for one thing; like it was meant for my eyes only. How was I going to share that, I wondered?, and not make it sound like just any other Trip To England....

Since my return, I've hit the ground running and have been kept way too busy to really process my experience. I immediately got sick, of course. (I knew this would happen, but thankfully the whole fibro flare nonsense stayed at bay until I at least touched down again here at home.) As a result, I have yet to unpack, flesh out my notes, or even look at my photo cards.

But I'm hoping now that being back at my computer keyboard once more will help. Writing is a comfort. And I'm desperate to wrap my head around this trip and nail down what is already beginning to feel like a dream....

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Epic Dream-Come-True Adventure

England was on my Bucket List before I even knew what a Bucket List was. 

It started with the Beatles (I was six when Ed Sullivan hosted them on his show; I'd never even heard of England....), and then just grew from there. I fell in love with 'Sherlock Holmes', read 'National Velvet until my copy fell apart, learned to like hot tea. I dreamed of riding a pony in full English kit. I swooned over Mr. Darcy. I stalked Prince Charles from afar.... I read about quaint villages, thatch-roofed cottages, church fetes, and steeplechases. I used 'gymkhana' in sentences. I asked Santa for jodhpurs.

In high school, my Poetry teacher and I discovered we shared a love of All Things England, and she and I became close friends. Gretchen encouraged my English interests, and over tea we often talked together about our individual dreams of going there someday. She shared with me a story about her best friend from college and how the two of them planned to visit England together, but then their youthful travel plans were shelved as the two enjoyed careers, got married, raised families. Still, they continued to dream together about their trip of a lifetime. Until her friend died unexpectedly....

It broke my heart when I heard Gretchen's story, but I told myself that would never happen to me. I was young! I had YEARS to make my travel dream happen! But after graduation those years barreled along. I got married, worked a bunch of jobs, and started a family, and during that time I began a correspondence with a woman in Derbyshire by the name of Maureen. At the time that we became 'pen pals' we were both young mothers with two small children, and the two of us had a lot of common interests. I looked forward to her letters, and over the years she and her loved ones became like Family to me. She was my connection to England.

Time passed and our friendship deepened. Maureen and I exchanged long detailed letters as well as cassette tapes on which I heard her voice and the voices of her children. Then e-mail became our mode of correspondence, followed by Facebook. I think all that somehow worked to mollify me, to make me think that through the miracle of ever-fancier technology I was somehow fulfilling my dream of meeting my friend.

I never forgot Gretchen's story and she never let me forget it either, often ending our visits by reminding me NOT to follow her example and put my trip off until it was too late. I kept insisting to myself that I was going to be smarter! I was going to make the dream happen! But in reality I was afraid to. I was afraid to travel alone, yet I didn't want to do the trip any other way! And it's one thing to write to someone over the years -- editing and honing and choreographing my words until those paper 'visits' were Just Right -- and another to spend a week in their company. Plain and simple, I was afraid I'd get to England and Maureen wouldn't like me....

Our kids grew up. Our lives changed. I got divorced. My nest became empty. Money was tight for me, so foreign travel was out of the question and never seemed to be IN the question. Still, every year Maureen wrote asking, "Do you ever think you'll visit England?" and every year I'd answer, "Maybe this year, who knows??"

Well, this year I know. I know. And when she asked me again for the umpteenth time and I told her, "Yes!," I think we were both so surprised that neither believed it at first.

I'm not sure what, exactly, prompted me to finally make it happen. I do know that being 'unwell' not long ago got me thinking Big Time. It was a serious and dramatic kind of unwell (at least to me), one that I'm sure was just the flu, the kind a person should annually get vaccinated for (I hadn't, but I've never missed an opportunity since). I've never experienced anything quite like it. It made me fear for my life.

As I suffered in the throes of that flu, drifting in and out of fever dreams, I thought about what all I’d regret if I somehow didn't recover from it. What were the Important Things? What was I doing or not doing with the remainder of my one wild life (that felt like it was hanging in the balance)? What were my regrets?.... As it turns out, there were LOTS. And one was having never met Maureen proper when meeting her was (and still is) so dang do-able.

So, not long afterwards I went online and booked my own tickets, to hell with the expense. And I'll be leaving soon! Like SOON soon. My big wish is to keep you abreast of this Dream Come True experience by posting photos and snippets here, but I have yet to figure out how to do that exactly from so far away. If I do, you'll be along for the ride! And if I don't, I'll tell you all about it once I return, 'k?

Wish me luck. I'm a big Travel Baby! But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't over-the-moon excited about stepping out of my comfort zone and taking myself on this Epic Adventure.

(P.S.: And if I can do it.... Well, just imagine what YOU can do.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Making Magick

It's perfect today -- sunny, breezy, kite-flying weather! -- so I took a break from my yardwork's spring-cleanup schedule to take a leisurely stroll. It's one of my favorite things to do, even when my walk consistently takes the same route. Things change from moment to moment -- the angle of the sun, the growth of the grass, you name it. There's always something new to see, some bit of wonderment to encounter....

For instance, today I happened upon a blue Micron pen dropped neatly at the curb (what will it draw?, must open it and find out!), waves of blue Scilla blooming in a friend's front yard, and an open egg at the base of a tree. Not just any open egg, either. This one was robin's-egg blue, a leftover from the holiday, perhaps something gone undiscovered at an Easter Egg Hunt. It was so perfect, posing there at the base of the tree, that I half-imagined it to be proof of an extraordinary hatching, and I pondered what sort of ethereal creature could have muscled its way out of it.

Clearly, 'blue' was the word of the day and the Universe was encouraging me to draw. :)

As I walked along, far away in my head, I passed a house just as its garage door opener engaged, and out walked two elderly ladies hauling between them a cat carrier inside of which was a huge orange tom, clearly disgruntled at the thought of embarking on an Adventure. We women waved to each other and I called, "Just a checkup, I hope?" to which one replied, "Poor baby has a bad heart. The vet is putting him on a monitor to see what can be done...." I said I'd keep my fingers crossed. And suddenly thoughts of magickal eggs hatching magickal creatures were no longer in my head....

It's funny what ideas come to a person when they're outside, letting their thoughts play and fly free. My head was all over the place. All around me was sunshine and springtime, all within me was once about flowers and fairies. But now I was focused on those women and their concerns for their curmudgeonly cat. 

As soon as I got back to messy, crazy Tumbledown, I hauled out the art paper and wrote the ladies an anonymous note of encouragement. And I'd meant to draw a pretty flower fairy on the front of it, too, one hatching from an Easter egg and wearing a blue Scilla bonnet (and I still intend to draw this; the Universe demands it), but I changed my mind and instead affixed a pic to the card of my Moustache Cat, looking all debonair and bow-tied and gentlemanly. It just seemed right. More uplifting, somehow. 

And as I sealed it up I couldn't help but smile; if nothing else, this spontaneous gesture has uplifted me. And my hope is that those good feelings have been sealed within the envelope, to work their magick upon release.

So mote it be.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day!

The folks at Punchbowl (who provide my blog widget) tell us that today is Earth Day. Here in Minne-snow-tah -- where just last week, it seems, there was more snow here than we knew what to do with -- we natives are celebrating what finally feels like spring. We can come up with no END of things to do to celebrate this fabulous day! But if you're at a loss, hopefully these suggestions off the top of my head will get you started:
  •  Grab that pail of sidewalk chalk and draw a big, smileyface Earth at the end of your driveway. Add a verse or just a word balloon that says "Happy Earth Day!" Live in a condo or apartment? Draw something cheery on an empty parking space or shared sidewalk. Someone will appreciate it when they return home tonight. :)
  • Roll up your sleeves, catch some UVs, take a stroll around the block and smile and wave at everyone you meet.
  • Kneel down and look (really LOOK) at those teensy green bits that are already reaching out for the sun. Pull back a handful of matted leaves and notice that all sorts of living, crawling things are busy celebrating today, too.
  • Sun tea. You don't need anything fancy; just a jar and some tea bags. Fill the jar with water, lower a bunch of tea bags into it, screw on the lid, and set it in the sun. Don't like tea? Grab a coffee filter, add some ground coffee, tie the filter closed, and follow the above directions.
  • Hammock up, if you've got one. Pull it into the sun, relax, and watch clouds. No hammock? Throw a quilt on the ground, pull up a lawn chair, or claim a park bench. No clouds? Check out the heavens. You'll be surprised once your eye adjusts to the distance. There are eagles soaring around way up there!
  • Salute the sun IN the sun. Go slow. Hold each yoga pose. Feel worshipful.
  • Dedicate a little gardeny bit to the fairies. Pour them a tiny dish of cream, serve them a strawberry or a chocolate chip, share something sparkly. Write them a note! Here at Tumbledown, they sometimes even write back.
  • Make some noise. Everything is made of music and all will respond to your vibration. Want to get started? Take something simple, like a tune from childhood, and just change the words. Voila! Now even though it sounds like 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat' it's really a song prayer. A hymn.
  • Open that bottle of dandelion wine from last year. Toast the earth. Share your glassful by pouring a bit of it on the ground. Yum! The earth gave you weeds and you give her wine. The eternal return.
  • And the usual drill: Hug a tree, visit a nature center, get your fingernails dirty, feed the ducks, wish on a star, plant a seed, wear something green, fill-in-the-blank. And check out the Earth Day site ( for more info.
Now you got it!

But you don't need ME for ideas, do you?, you creative kindred spirit, you. SO:
"Enjoy your wonder-filled day
Your own special way,
And then tell me all about it, 'k?"
(Shutting up now. Promise!)


Friday, April 11, 2014

Celebrate Your Sweeties

Hug'm, feed'm, luv'm, need'm,
Look into their eyes and greet'm,
Walk'm, pet'm, play 'Go-Get-'Em,'
Never let yourself forget'm.
None to luv? Adopt a stray --
'Cause it's National Pet Day!

The folks who provide my blog widget (yay, Punchbowl!; check it out, over there in the right margin) tell us that today is National Pet Day.

Here at Tumbledown, this is a BIG AFFAIR. There are many little friends here to hug on!

Do you have a pet? Are you like me and surround yourself with critters? Want to talk about them here? :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Poem for a Piranha Bird

Either this is Thurston's sad face or his relieved face
 Where there were two there

is now only one: Thurston,

mourning his Lovey.

Poor boy....

When I woke yesterday to discover Lovey's body, dead on her nest, I was surprised and shocked at first. But then not so much. Especially when I thought of all the frantic nesting she'd been doing, and how afraid I was that 'no eggs' meant she could be eggbound. (Although I can't be sure, I think it's why she died....)

James claims all was well when he checked on them before going to work early that morning, but I can recall hearing Thurston in my half-sleep, his volume disturbing my dreams. I thought he was just singing up the sun! But maybe he was calling for help. Or keening his sorrow.

The grandbugs were due any second so there was little time for me to mourn let alone arm myself with leather gloves and heavy sleeves before reaching into the cage. But Thurston let me do what I had to do, bare arms and all. And he was still and quiet all the while I did so, watching intently as I took Lovey away....

Later that afternoon I cleaned his cage thoroughly, and he stood by and watched me as I hung toys from the overhead bars, not once trying to sabotage me and skin me alive. It made me think: Is he just too sad to kill me? Was Lovey such a bully that anything she'd do he had to do, too? Did he feel he had to protect her from me? It seems like all he did day-in-and-day-out was feed her, hand her nesting material, preen her feathers, answer her beck and call, take her abuse, warn me away, and be romanced into frequent birdy sex. Is he just too exhausted now from all that to attack me? Is he just enjoying his first-ever BREAK from all that responsibility??

Today he seems like an altogether different bird. Nothing but non-stop nattering and playing with his toys. He somersaults from his new swing and hangs upside-down from his plastic chain. He sings rounds with Miss Lily. There are mirrors in his cage now and he mutters to his reflection as he nods off for a well-earned nap. And he's much more interested in a quick nibble of my fingers as I thread the lock onto his cage door. 

Perhaps his grief was short-lived. Perhaps he was as abused by his bitchy love as the rest of us were. Perhaps he's enjoying being a widower (at least until he realizes that his frequent-birdy-sex days are over....). Perhaps this is the beginning of a brand new Thurston. I hope so. It's been the pits trying to forge a relationship with these adoptees while Lovey's beak has called the shots. Maybe now things will be different.... 

I'm down to one Piranha Bird. Sad.... But I suspect Thurston and I will be just fine.

Friday, April 4, 2014


The wedding-cake world
Of a Minnesota spring.
Winter's parting gift.

Tumbledown looked just like this last year, only two weeks later than today.

I whined about it then; a lot of natives did. We're not too happy about this snowstorm either, but we're dealing with it like we've been dealing now for months. It's Minne-snow-ta. It's what happens here. We're used to it.

And seriously? You can't step outside on a day like today and not be flippin' awed....

I'll be eating those words in a moment when I try to dig my driveway out of this heavy, heart-attack snow. But it's do-able in little bits. And during those moments of rest I'll look around myself with wonder.

These are the last breaths of this dying season. What a gift they are!

Thank you, Winter.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Haiku. Do You?

Five broken pencils
Discovered on my walk.
In search of their witch.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April is Poetry Month

Happy robin trills
Outside my bedroom window
A song to the sun.


(...Your turn. GO!....)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lesson One

After Monday's post about stepping sideways off the pathway I've been keeping my eyes peeled. Paying attention....

And on today's walk I watched for clues. Messages from the Universe about what it is exactly that I'm supposed to be learning.

I kept my mind open. Loose. I engaged my senses....

I noticed robins in the rowan tree.

And snowdrifts etched by the wind into the diamond skyscrapers of miniature ice cities.

I heard the over-wintered leaves of an oak tree applauding my progress, the tinkle of a windchime caught up in the breeze, the 'cheeseburger!' call of chickadees, the trickle of snowmelt as it collected at the curb and laughed its way to the storm drain.

I smelled woodsmoke, perfumed dryer sheets, someone's barbecue, spring.

I felt moisture on my cheek and tasted road salt on the air.

And I discovered these on my path: a fancy paperclip and a silk maple leaf from someone's autumnal arrangement.

The message (as I interpret it):
"Lost your place? You'll find it in Nature."
Let the learning begin.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stepping Sideways Off the Path

I sense that foggy, cotton-wool feeling. The shadows on my periphery.

I expect to find my routine suddenly shaken, my mind on walkabout, the door to the rabbit hole ajar, and me about to slip inside and pull it closed over my head....

Maybe you're feeling like this, too?

At these times it helps me to write, but not necessarily to share (although I'll try to; perhaps if I do I'll even discover like-minded kindred souls Out There who can maybe identify....).

Facebook is out of the question. Facebook just annoys me when I'm like this, when I'm contemplating the rabbit hole.... It reminds me that there are folks in my world who aren't feeling lost and out of sync, folks like everyone else who are going about their normal lives watching cat videos and taking 'Which Jersey Shore Character Are You?' quizzes and posting pictures of their lunch.

Plus, I feel too exposed or something on Facebook.

But blogging might just work. I need to type; feel my fingers move. I'm safe here. It feels like a one-way connection. Like me just talking aloud to myself. And that's OK.

But, just to be on the safe side: if YOU'RE here, IF you're here, if you're reading this, please think kind thoughts, 'k? Tolerant, sensitive, open-minded thoughts. I don't mean to sound all woo-woo kookyheaded I'm-losing-my-mind (and I hope you're not taking it that way); I just need to open all three of my eyes, step sideways into the unknown, allow myself to be fairy-led, take notes, see what happens. I sense that I'm supposed to be learning something.... Something important....

And I can't do that if I'm spending all my time trying so hard to -- do what, exactly?? -- appear 'normal?' Act like a generic human bean? Not sure. All I know is that today my weird energies have reached some sort of zenith. (Could it have something to do with the Equinox?) Even my dreams have been out-there exotic, so there's no 'sleeping it off' for me.... I have to pay attention.

So, just bear with me while I do this. Or leave me, because that's OK and I'll understand.

But you just might learn something, too. In which case, we can hold hands and learn something

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Leprechaun Tale

A couple days ago I mailed each of the beloved grandbuglets a handwritten note.

The note explained how 'Grampa James discovered a leprechaun hiding in his sock drawer and how he'd agree to free it if it gave him a gold coin for each of the grandbugs, and so it DID, but the next day when he checked on the 'gold' in his pocket, it wasn't gold any longer.' And enclosed with the note was proof: a fat plastic coin with a shamrock stamped on it.

On Saturday James and I FaceTimed with our local 'buglets, and the first thing the 4-almost-5-year-old did was muscle her little brother out of the way in order to hog the camera and demand, "Grampa, did you REALLY see a leprechaun? How big was he? Was he the size of a crayon? Did he have a little green vest? Did he look like this?" And she held a grocery store ad with a Lucky Charms character on it up to the camera lens....

I'd made up the story, but now poor Grampa had to confirm it (oops). To his credit, he winged it beautifully, describing in grand detail how he'd bargained with the leprechaun, and how it begged for its freedom, and how surprised Grampa was to discover the next day that what he thought was gold wasn't gold after all.

All the while he talked, she listened intently with eyes wide, eyebrows high, mouth turned down at the corners. Very intense. And there was a long pause afterward while we sensed the gears turning. Then, in a stage whisper: "Grampa?.... Did you fall for a leprechaun TRICK?"

(We were so delighted by her response that James and I roared with laughter; I hope we didn't embarrass her....)

I suggested we could all set a trap for the sneaky thing, but how would we do that?? And she flew off on a Rube Goldberg tangent: "We could hang a cage from the ceiling and run a wire from it over to the wall and then run the wire across the floor and then when he walked by he'd trip on the wire and the cage would come down and catch him and then I'd grab him and say, 'Give me TWO GOLD COINS -- one for Grampa, one for Gramma, one for Miss Lily, one for Boo, and one for those cute little birds that always try to snackle your fingers off.'"

(SO generous. And to those horrid piranha birds, too, bless her!)

And there you have it: a tale about my brush with the gold at the end of the rainbow and the magick it made one Saturday night. And now I hope some of it's rubbed off on you.

May all your Erin Go Bragh-ing go well today, my friend. And may 'snackle' forever be a word in your lexicon.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Ring and I

Art by J.R.R. Tolkien (LOVE this....)
I almost hate to say this but as far as hobbits, and Tolkien, and lords, and rings, and Lords of Rings are concerned, I am lost. Completely clueless.

(Aaaaaaaaad there goes my 'friends' list.... Bummer....)

Until quite recently the only thing Tolkien-ish that I was even almost marginally vaguely fairly sort of confident about was that hobbits had something to do with hairy feet. And I took a silly Facebook quiz meant to reveal to me just what Tolkien character I'm meant to be, too -- as if that would magickally reveal all -- and I'll have you know that when I got 'Hobbit' I was a little put out about it. Hairy feet? No way. Hairy toes, maybe. (Although not anymore. And forget I even said that....)

Waaaaaay back in my high school days I tried reading Lord of the Rings per a friend's suggestion and I got as far as I-don't-know-how-many-chapters-into-it-exactly and I just caved. Couldn't go on. Couldn't read another word.... I thought I'd lost the friendship, too, when I admitted my failure. But then the friend said, "Everyone gives up at that point. You just have to burn through it until it starts getting good."

Really?? Gah....

I don't often give books second chances let alone multiple chances. But as it turns out, I've revisited Lord of the Rings often over my lifetime. And I've still managed to give up at the same point every dang time. Occasionally revealing this hasn't been the wisest thing I've ever done, either, seeing as how my Renaissance Festival credentials put me in a somewhat Tolkien-knowledgeable circle. I want to be part of the group, but this isn't helping....

Figuring I'd bypass the books by seeing the films sounded like a good idea at first. But little sad-faced Elijah Wood in suspenders and short pants immediately made me think of 'Pa Ingalls' and the whole thing just fell apart at that point. Maybe I just didn't have the Right Stuff....

But then came Martin Freeman.

I heart Martin Freeman. I like his performance style. So casting him as 'Bilbo Baggins' was THE best way to get me to revisit the whole shebang and stay awake for it this time, at least for this prelude-y, this-is-how-it-all-begins bit. And when I learned somewhere (unless I dreamt it) that Mr. Freeman was originally as unfamiliar with Tolkien's works as I, it seemed dipped-in-gold somehow. Special. Serendipitous. I imagined us both on a quest to discover Tolkien together; two of the only people left on the planet who had never heard of Middle Earth. And if awesome Martin Freeman could admit to being out of the hobbit-y loop -- at least until being cast as one -- then I didn't feel so bad. I was in wonderful company.

A while back, James and I saw the first 'Hobbit' film installment in IMAX-3D, and on a whim we chose the high frame rate version. (I know HFR makes a lot of folks crabby, but not this girl; it reminds me of the way programs on 'Masterpiece Theatre' used to feel back-in-the-day, as if they were being broadcast 'live.') It was magickal, although I'll admit I paid way more attention to the details than I did the plot. I watched it again recently in preparation for 'The Desolation of Smaug' and was a little dismayed to discover how much I'd forgotten, or perhaps just missed, as everything about it was a sensational smorgasbord for my eyes.

Revisiting Martin Freeman's 'Bilbo', however, was a delight. Here was a character I could identify with -- someone fearful of Adventure, someone reluctant to leave his comfy cottage and his books, someone who panicked upon discovering he'd forgotten a handkerchief.... Bilbo Baggins was so me.

'The Desolation of Smaug' did not disappoint me. Again, I called around to find it in HFR and was sooooo happy I had. And I left the theater with a lot of questions that my geeky James (himself not much of a Tolkien reader either, having attempted Lord of the Rings as well and given up at exactly the same point) was unable to answer.

Which brings me to last New Year's Eve and my suggestion to James that we finally stream The Trilogy, all in one go. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), he agreed. We made a party out of it and settled in for the long haul. The story was infinitely more do-able this time around. And yet....


Disappointingly, it was still a torturous weekend full of endless Orc battles and impossible-to-pronounce names and boatloads of odd facts that the filmmakers assumed I already knew but didn't. I was left with so many questions!....

By the dawn of January 2nd I really DID feel like I'd been on a quest. (My butt did, too.) I asked James how he felt about us dedicating our New Year's to the Trilogy instead of to our usual Twilight Zone marathon, knowing as I did how reluctant he was to it all originally. He admitted that it was enjoyable, but he was glad to have it behind him now, and he didn't think he'd ever need to see it again. I thought that was fair and I'm kind of in agreement, although part of me wonders how seeing it with a Tolkien fan wouldn't simply answer all my questions once and for all. (Weren't wizards powerful? Couldn't Gandalf just magick all the bad guys away? And what was up with that ending?)

I still know nothing about hobbits and rings and lords of rings. And I may never gain admission to the geeky planet I orbit. But I'll have you know that since Mr. Freeman's delightful performance I have purchased some baggy trousers and a tweedy vest, some totally Old School suspenders and a velveteen jacket. I've worn them, too. I've now got the 'Bilbo Baggins' LEGO character on my fridge. I've ordered more than once off the limited-time shire menu at Denny's! I've searched for 'hairy feet slippers' on and I wear my Tree of Gondor sweatshirt proudly and I've wondered way too often how I'd look with pointy ears (better than you'd think, actually). I've purchased a copy of The Hobbit -- on purpose! -- and it's in my stack of To Reads, because what better way to tackle the Trilogy once and for all than via its prelude?

And in future, when my friend Tony calls me a hobbit, I'll think, "I guess that does kind of describe me, doesn't it? Safely reading about Adventure here in my cozy house with my pot of tea and my shelves of books and my tweedy vest with a handkerchief in its pocket." And I'll consider it a compliment. And for that I'll thank Martin Freeman.


There may just be hope for me. :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Everything Studio

Don't be fooled. These are mostly empty....
On the neat little calendar of my imagination, January is for organizing the studio. And in my head the process is more of a cheery, relaxing lark than the Herculean task it really is.

I imagine opening the door on a spacious, sun-filled room with space to MOVE; full of cute shelves and neat cubbies and color-coordinated baskets. Like more of a Mary Engelbreit studio than what it's currently become: a dreary, dusty, catch-all room filled with unrelated crap stuffed into boxes. A place where things go when Fest (and then Halloween and then Christmas) is over and I just want my life back again.... 

So weeks ago when I realized that January was nearly over and My Mess was still there and not going anywhere, I decided to get off my butt already and get to it.

It sounded so do-able. But soon the contents of that little room were all over the house. In piles. BIG piles. Piles that were blocking the exits, the windows, the TV. Just looking at them made me want to poke my eyes out with a sharp stick.... What was I thinking??

There was the drawing pile, the resin pile, the jewelry-making pile, the polymer clay pile. There was the science pile and the collage-making pile, the painting pile and the writing pile. There were grocery bags full of sewing patterns, boxes full of colored pencils, stacks of drawing paper, a heap of canvases, and about a million little bags of crimp beads and head pins and toggles and charms....

Oh. My.

*Sigh*.... But you already know this because I've talked about it here. And early on in the process, when a friend responded to one of my many comments about this neverending overhaul with a terse "So DO it already!", I felt like I should apologize to you for all my woe-is-me-I'm-such-a-mess ravings.

I know that organizing that one tiny room would be so much easier if there was a single theme. But how do you organize an Everything Studio?.... Back when drawing was my Big Thing (I was a little boring then, but definitely neater) what I referred to as my 'studio' was nothing more than my dad's old drawing table pushed into a corner, with maybe a pile of art magazines on the side. It was all pretty portable then. And when I eventually took over an upstairs attic space, I was able to add a comfy reading chair and some bookshelves.

Then I took possession of a fabulous find -- an antique drawing table with cast-iron legs and some industrial bells and whistles. Huge, sturdy, and heavy as hell. There was room on it for multiple drawings at a time (as well as a cup of coffee, which turned out to be more of a problem than anything else....). The old thing took up the majority of any room I put it into, but I loved it! Yet, Dad's old wooden table had to come along as well, of course. It was like the 'bike I learned to ride on,' and occasionally I'd pull it out for old time's sake.

So, bottom line, drawing is what I do. It's what I've always done. And it's what I go back to over and over again. My studio has to be set up, first and foremost, for drawing. Sounds simple enough, right?

But apparently not, as over the years I've met dashing new mediums, sensed their potential, and let them run away with me for shameless, passionate flings.

I'm so dang fickle. Every new medium feels like The One until I've lost interest for the moment and have moved on to the next. And afterward all that STUFF needs STUFFING. Somewhere. And there's where the little snowball is made, all ready to roll down the hill and bury me in the avalanche.

I'll admit that one day into the current overhaul I wanted nothing more than to shovel everything into a dumpster and set it aflame. I didn't know where to start! It made me CRY.

In response to all my Overwhelm a friend wrote: "Two words: Ray Bradbury. If you ever watched his TV series and saw his "study" you have to realize you're in good company. An imagination without creative fuel is just madness." (Ray Bradbury! I can't imagine better company.)

Another friend commented: "Perhaps the gathering of materials is simply so you will create for the rest of your life. You do not see the world the way an accountant or an actuary does (thank the STARS!) and so, you live in an outward example of the creativity within. Potential is everywhere in the pencils and paints and bits of found things ... all waiting to be brought into being by your artistic brilliance. Artists with sparse surroundings kind of scare me." (Me too, actually. More brilliant thoughts to consider....)

So I've been soldiering on. What began a handful of weeks ago is still underway. It's not going as fast as I'd like, but it IS inching forward in little bits. The piles that were once filling my living room have been whittled down enough to go back into the studio from which they came. The room's not and never will be a page out of Where Women Create (gawd, I WISH!). Nor will the overhaul ever be finished (I realize this now). But the room is better than it's been in ages, and I can be proud of myself for that.

And I go in that room now and putter the day away, sorting bits-and-bobs, doodads and flotsam. Only now long hours go by and I discover I've spent them sorting less and playing more, as that almost-empty drawing table and those bouquets of colorful pencils and markers have a way of distracting me. (They have voices, did you know? Like children on a playground....)

And that's not SO bad, is it?