See them tumblin' down, Pledgin' their love to the ground . . . Lonely but free I'll be found . . .

Driftin' along with the tumblin' tumbleweeds . . .

Guess where this tumbleweed is driftin'?!

I'm going out to New Mexico to be with my pals for a week:

Well actually, to hang out with my sister and my parents (but I will definitely stop to see Ed Larson, who painted that last one.)

To eat:

at The Rancho de Chimayo (among other spots)

Where I will order:

the Tortilla Compuesta w/the tinga beef (not an actual picture, but who takes pictures of the stuff they order in restaurants? That would be creepy and weird.)

To see:

the Albuquerque balloon fiesta

and the high desert fall foliage.

To drool over stuff like this: (Matt Mitchell)

and this

and this

and this

and to generally have an amazing week in New Mexico doing the things I love to do most.

Latest Albuquerque weather says:

high 81/low 55/sunny
(you can knock about 7 degrees off that for Santa Fe)
In other words, PERFECT.

If you kids are good while I'm gone, I'll bring you a treat from Jackalope.

So I guess this is adios, amigos . . .

Happy Trails to You,
'Til We Meet Again!

(about October 9)


Would you like to swing on a star . . . carry moonbeams home in a jar . . . and be better off than you are . . .

Or would you like to be a fish?

(thanks for the artwork, 1990's Chelsea!)

A fish can't do anything but swim in a brook,
He can't write his name or read a book.
To fool the people is his only thought
And even though he's slippery
He still gets caught!
But then if that sort of life is what you wish,
You may grow up to be a fish!

I do, unfortunately, spend a lot of time wishing I were someone else somewhere else doing something else. It's a character flaw. There are a variety of reasons for this, none of them related to my life being unhappy (which it definitely isn't). More likely it is related to things like post-adolescent acne (which is out of control), MN weather (which has been beautiful lately but often isn't) and an insurmountable to-do list (which I always seem to have). I have never, however, specifically day-dreamed of being a fish. I've just always liked that song.

I have, I must admit (and who hasn't), daydreamed of being Nancy Drew.

That's what I do when I get a little too stressed -- I read Nancy Drew books. I just bought 5 I've never owned from Amazon rare books, and I'm a little disappointed because although they said the books were copyright mid-1950's, they were actually the 1970's re-dos, which are not nearly as good. I don't know why reading Nancy Drew books is comforting to me, but I have loved them ever since I started borrowing them (as many as I could without being a pest) from my neighbor Ann's older sister (sorry -- seems some of mine still say Marybeth on the inside cover . . . would you like them back?) That must have been sometime in the early 1970's. I read as many as my neighbors owned, then I bought as many as I could earn the money for myself. In the 1990's, I read my complete collection (it is quite large -- stolen or purchased as a child, and collected as an adult) to my two younger daughters, who loved them as well.

Last year I re-read them all (getting ready for a wedding and art shows definitely calls for Nancy!) and now I'm skulking around used-book websites trying to buy some anti-stress tonic in the form of previously un-read Nancy Drew.

I have some from the original series, the 1930's editions.

I love these best because the descriptions of the clothing, the social life, and the manners exhibited are just a marvelous study in a bygone era. Wonderful college weekends at Emerson, debutante balls, amateur theatric productions . . .

And 1930's Nancy was truly blazing a trail -- a respected amateur sleuth traveling the countryside in her convertible when all the other girls her age were getting married to their high school sweethearts.

1950's Nancy Drews are the next best thing -- still quaint but peppered with all kinds of 1950's "hip" language and even more girl-power.

Nancy strings Ned Nickerson along with ease and charm; he is always waiting in the wings to save the day. He respects Nancy even though he secretly wishes she would settle down and marry him, I'm sure. Athletic George and pleasingly plump Bess are a wonderful foil for Nancy's intelligence and thirst for adventure. One sometimes wonders what George and Bess would do if they weren't gallivanting around the globe with their friend.

In the 1970's they rewrote the original stories and updated them -- tragic but some of them are still acceptable.

Nancy's hair got longer and was no longer described as "titian," I guess because 1970's girls wouldn't have the slightest idea what "titian" was. Bess was still overweight, but the 1970's books were more likely to make her feel bad about it -- the "pleasingly" was dropped from the "plump".

Now that I've thought about it a little, here are my reasons Nancy Drew relieves stress:

1) Things always turn out in the end. There is no mystery too great, no situation too dire, no villain too sinister for Nancy's remarkable pluck and insatiable curiosity to overcome. Even when death and destruction seem imminent, rescue is sure and just a page away.

2) Nancy has an unlimited supply of resources. Her charge accounts are never-ending, her convertible is always the latest model, full of gas and ready to road-trip, her friends are bountiful and devoted.

3) In addition to being smart and brave, Nancy is fantastically beautiful. And worst of all, she's the kind of beautiful person you just can't hate because she's so gosh-darn nice.

4) Having Carson Drew for a father is like having a get-out-of-jail-free card at her immediate disposal no matter where she goes. Just mention the name Carson Drew and watch the doors open.

5) The police are always willing to drop whatever else they are working on and spring to Nancy's aid in any way she may request (this is because of her amazing reputation as a successful amateur sleuth, which they have tremendous respect for).

6) Athletic George (with her short haircut!) and pleasingly-plump Bess both not only have favorite boyfriends, but are also always able to find dates wherever the girls go. Of course Nancy gets first-pick of the boys, but everyone has a happy and willing dance partner. And Nancy never worries about offending Ned because she knows he will forever wait for her.

7) Handsome boys always come in threes.

8) Although Nancy's mother died tragically when Nancy was 3, kindly Hannah Gruen is everything a girl could ask for in a mother hen. She is just as comfortable fighting off an intruder with a lamp or her handbag as she is baking a scratch lemon meringue pie on a moment's notice for Nancy and her friends. Every home should come equipped with a Hannah Gruen.

9) Nancy is truly at home in the world. She'll travel anywhere, talk to anyone, try anything, and everywhere she goes there is a new friend and a new adventure waiting to greet her.

So I guess it's no wonder I still like to read Nancy Drew. And since it's fall (getting dark) and Christmas is closing in (Chicago show) and then it will be February before I blink (Baltimore) it's no wonder I'm trolling the used-book waters to see if I can get some additional fortification. Now if I could just get a piece
of Hannah's lemon-meringue pie . . .


Look, Ma! No Hands!

The other day Lindsay was having lunch with us and she asked me if I'd like to see her "tricks." What mother can refuse such a request?

I was immediately transported back to this day:

This picture is of Lindsay on her new bike, Christmas Day 1987.

Kind of sad to get a new bike for Christmas in MN,

But at least there was 20 years' less accumulation in the garage then, so she could attempt to ride it.

Lindsay is at heart a 12-year-old boy (in a 25-year-old girl body), so her tricks are always fearless and impressive (I won't say "reckless" or "hair-brained", but there was that broken arm incident awhile back . . . )

Someday she will most certainly be the awesomest mother on any block.

So we went out in front of the house so I could watch Linds on her "ripstik". Too old to know what this is? Go out to your cul-de-sac and watch what the middle school set is doing. The best I can do in the way of a description is tell you that it is a skateboard with free-moving wheels (think casters) that is split in half, each half moving independently of the other. Very cool because you can go uphill by rocking the two halves. Not very cool because you can break your arm with minimal effort. From the ripstik website, I read with amusement the following warning:

Caster board riding can be a hazardous activity. Caster boards can, and are intended to move and it is therefore possible to get into dangerous situations and/or lose control and/or fall off. If such things occur you can be seriously injured or die.

(If you are a twelve year old boy, I'd recommend that you don't teach your mother how to combine the terms "google" and "ripstik.") That may be the most ridiculous disclaimer I've ever personally laid eyes on. It could only elicit one response from someone who grew up in the 1970's, and that is, of course, "no duh."

So I watched the tricks, (at least she wears pads now since the arm thing) which were indeed awesome to say the least. She did not "get into a dangerous situation and/or lose control and/or fall off." All the passing cars were watching, as well, because there's something about Lindsay that's just plain cool. I don't know any other way to say it.

All of this is merely to serve as an introduction to me sharing this with you:

We're (finally!) moving along now at a good clip. I'm going to try to have it done before I leave on vacation next week. But I guess my triumphant yell would be something more like this:

Look, Ma! Only my hands!


During all the long hours 'til daylight is through, There are plenty of things for my two hands to do!

Now that the children are gone*

(*see almost every previous post),

I've been thinking about what to do with the resulting gobs of free time I have on my hands. Actually, the switch to remote control parenting has not been as carefree as one might imagine -- it certainly requires more effort than changing the TV channel, and the results are less reliable.

I'm just feeling at a bit of a crossroads, now that I am no longer required to be home at any particular time of day or night. (Technically one could argue that I should require myself to be in my studio a good portion of every day, but it's the rest of my time I'm talking about.)

I could do some work in the garage (there are probably spiders.) I could catch up on 20 years of filing. I could clean out the linen closet, but I'm afraid to open it.

I suppose I could consider taking up a hobby. I am endlessly fascinated by the things that people are passionate about -- the ways they invest their time, love and money. There are so many options, the possibilities are dizzying. For instance:

Now honestly I'm a pretty creative person, but I would never have thought of that. And let's consider where cobwebs come from . . .

I could begin a collection:

Yes, I too could collect dog-shaped rocks. And even paint them to look like different breeds. But -- Hello, my name is Susan and I'm a (recovering) collector. My husband would ask your support in this recovery, I believe. (It may be related to the problem in the garage and the closets?)

And I certainly don't need to collect anything related to dogs. I spend enough time picking up dog hair.

Now if I really wanted some attention, I could collect rocks that look like religious figures, or maybe Elvis. I remember a certain guest on Johnny Carson who collected potato chips that looked like famous people. That gives me an idea:

If I got a potato chip factory, I could make my own potato chips so that I could make them look like whatever I want! The first one I would do would be Oprah. (I can think of a lot of reasons why potato-chip-Oprah would be funny. Thick-cut or thin-n-crispy, for example.) Or Brad and Angelina's twins -- Russ and I could retire. I'm pretty sure people would pay much more for those than they do for fiber art. (See 300% profit reference above.)

I could dabble in some different mediums -- for instance, sculpture:

The use of Bert's nose would make me technically call this assemblage, which I've already done a lot of. But clay would certainly be new!
(Or I could just watch old-school Sesame Street, which I already spend quite a bit of time doing).

Since I have dabbled in a whole lot of art things on the road to the thing I'm doing now, I couldn't possibly store any additional materials.

I could take up jiu jitsu,
which from reading this
I learn means
"muscle-breaking." My
muscles already feel
broken most of the time.

Or tap dancing, so
I could finally get
invited to parties
(hostesses love it!)
it makes the limbs supple
and gives a "springy" feeling of fitness
to the whole body.
Much better
than broken muscles.

I could raise giant frogs, combining fun and profit.

Is there a Giant Market for canned frog legs where you live? Because I don't think Minnesota jumped on the canned-frog-leg bandwagon. Although "A Fortune in Frogs" has nice alliteration.

I could raise miniature cacti, which I actually plan to do but only in my own front yard in New Mexico. So first I've got to retire with the potato-chip-twin windfall.

I could take up a musical instrument.

We established by about age 10 that I'm no good at piano, and I don't like to play the flute too much because when people think you're pretty good you get asked to play in church quite a bit, whether you're actually good or not. Best to keep the flute thing under wraps. But I could take up this instrument -- no one would have a use for it so I'd be safe:

I could buy women's magazines and try to make some of the stuff in them.

Wait -- I actually made some of the stuff in them, and it's impossible.

(If you've ever attempted something from a women's magazine, you may now feel vindicated.)

This sandcastle, for instance, made from glue, cardboard and sand (they're not lying about that but there are always lies in the instructions) should never be attempted by anyone. There is no occasion for which it would be worth the effort, and even though I remember the sand on the kitchen floor, I don't remember specific details of the craft miracle that accompanied its creation. I've blocked it out.

But the idea of making

wool accents sounds appealing to me. Wait a minute -- that already takes up all my free time.

Oh yes, and here's how the one you're following is coming along:

slowly, but there are four other pieces coming along with it. I've got to work like crazy to be ready, not only for Chicago, but now for Baltimore (I got in! Another craft miracle!)

The biggest miracle will be doing those two shows back to back (insomnia posts in the coming months.) I guess hobbies can actually be a lot of trouble -- well, full of the kind of joy that makes life worthwhile but also trouble -- why would anyone want to replace their children with that?


May I have your attention please . . . attention, please!

Raise your hand if you know why Professor Harold Hill is trying to get our attention.

Raise both hands (and get a gold star) if you know that it's not actually Professor Harold Hill, but instead my father dressed up as Professor Harold Hill that's trying to get our attention.
It's true, my father was a splendid Harold Hill in our church production of "The Music Man" (yes, I grew up in a time where people actually put on theatrics for fun)
-- dead serious here --
so good, in fact, that in my mind it's hard to separate
the two things.

He just sort of is Professor Harold Hill. I can't really explain it.
Growing up with a dad who was also Professor Harold Hill was probably a little like growing up with an alcoholic father, I guess, except that instead of wondering if your dad would come home drunk you wondered if your dad would break into "Trouble Right Here in River City" at inopportune moments.
Which sometimes happened.
Sunday dinner was interesting at my house.

But back to the point -- why Harold/Dad is here today -- is that
I have been closing my eyes to a situation I do not wish to acknowledge.

(Here's where I hope everyone grew up reenacting scenes from The Music Man so that you will be familiar enough with the dialogue that this allusion is resonating for you . . .)

The reason I would like your attention is that today I am
announcing that I have actually started my diet.

Before you click the red "x" and close the blog, let me beg your indulgence because
a little online community support would be nice.
I mean, some people write entire blogs about dieting. I'm only asking you to stick with me for one post.

Anyway, approximately 30 minutes after Chelsea got married last August, I started eating. It's easy to mark the exact time because it was at the dinner we had after the wedding. (I was wearing a stretchy dress and I knew I would be able to take it off soon and would never have to wear it again.) Funny thing is, now I'd actually like to have the option of wearing that dress (or anything else in my closet) again, if the opportunity presented itself, and so now, a year later,

. . . . We've got Trouble Right Here In River City.

Why am I acknowledging the situation now? Because I can no longer close my eyes to the tightness of my pants. "Sure, Susan," you say, "but you've been threatening to do this for 6 months." To that fair skepticism I can only reply that now I have a blog, so I hope to use it to motivate (or publicly humiliate) myself to be a better person.

So today I offer my Top Several Reasons for Dieting,
Starting . . . Now.

#6--I can pretend I'm on a hunger strike until the ridiculousness of this election season is past. As evidence of the direness of our national situation I offer the teaser I saw for Entertainment Tonight that promised "Exclusive footage of Sarah Palin -- AT HOME!!"

Here I was going to paste Sarah Palin's head on this body,

and then I realized that would be childish (funny, but childish) so I'll just let you imagine what that would look like.
(funny, right? but childish.)
But honestly what other kind of footage would Hollywood possibly have to show us of Sarah Palin at home to demand our attention? They certainly can't present anything relevant to the election.

(I haven't watched ET lately, but I seem to recall them being better at things like underwear than at the economy, war, the Bush Doctrine, etc.) So here I'm going to assert that, like chocolate and bacon, Hollywood and Politics need to stay in their separate universes.

However, in all fairness, I have noticed (in my vintage magazine perusals) that Eleanor Roosevelt used to plug movies.

(let us note that she was not
actually in office . . . )

Unfortunately it isn't that big a stretch to imagine this scenario:

There are so many problems on so many levels here, I'll just illustrate with this sketch for an old piece, which was titled, "Who Turned Out the Lights?"

Perhaps if I deny myself of food I can feel a little righteous indignation, because at least I'm taking some kind of action in response to it all.
Wow -- number six took a long time -- let's move a little faster:

#5--You will be more understanding of my cranky and complaining personality. Or you will quit reading. (If that is to be the case, please notify me by email and I will promptly eat something yummy to feel better and, therefore, be happier.)

#4--You will understand when I get so hungry that I start posting recipes like this, because they actually sound good to me.

Creamy Tomato Soup Jello!!!????

#3--I can quit spending so much time on #*%@ exercise machines.

Hannah gave me this card some years ago and I should show you the back as well:

You'll notice I refused to sign. Although I have to admit that exercising is where I indulge in many of my most guilty non-edible pleasures (see prev. post referencing Electric Six) , like this:

#2--I can justify sharing more excellent vintage women's undergarment images with you.

After all, this is "a true story
of modern figure control."

And the number one reason: I can finally post what is perhaps my all-time favorite comic strip, (which used to live on my mirror but has now taken up residence in the studio):

Actually, I think he poses a legitimate question . . . I've done this dieting thing before (too many times) and I believe it would go better if I had an incredibly delicious "farewell meal" of some kind. Or maybe a "farewell weekend?"

You can talk all you want,
but it's different than it was --

No it ain't, no it ain't --
but you gotta'
know the territory!

Let's hope I'm covering this familiar territory for the last time.
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