Fear of NOT flying.

Let's face it -- that's what we should call it.

Because I have no problem as long as we keep flying.
It's a scenario in which we suddenly stop flying that I worry about.

I've always been a flying chicken, which is a little ironic for the longtime wife of an airline executive. I do it, but I have to fully reconcile myself to my own demise every time I get on a plane . . . which is both ridiculous and exhausting.

But I fly --
because I'm basically an intelligent and reasonable person.
And it gets me where I want to go.

I know, I know . . . air travel is perfectly safe.

An unpleasant ordeal for a claustrophobic such as myself WHO CAN ABSOLUTELY NEVER SEEM TO GET AN AISLE SEAT, but perfectly safe.

I understand the basic principles of physics involved
and I'm familiar with the statistics.

I understand it . . . I just don't BELIEVE it.

There has to be magic at work somewhere because I can hardly lift my own suitcase, let alone the enormous man in the seat next to me. And yet the plane just picks us all up and deposits us wherever we want to go.

And does no one else find it unsettling

that the place you catch your plane is called a TERMINAL??!!

But next week I really want to go to Phoenix for some desert fun with my sister (which is usually accomplished in malls, restaurants, and movie theaters)


We have a little project we've been mulling over, so I may actually make something worthwhile while I'm there, in addition to the extra fat I make and have to carry home with me.

I also hope to meet a blog friend for guacamole
(green icing on my prickly cactus cake of fun!)

And speaking of flying,
look what built a nest in my studio trees this week:

I'm having lots of fun with these little birdies.
I just hope they haven't left so many
"holes in the sky"
with their music

that my airplane falls into one of them.

I'm not even going to tell you when I'll return
because it will be in SEPTEMBER
and I can't bear to say the "S" word . . .

well, since I've already said it,

Small Works will return September 8.

(No worries -- I'll be back.)


Cosmopolitan, adj. . . . sophisticated, very open to different ideas and ways of doing things; not provincial

I never read Cosmopolitan, except of course in the grocery check-out line where (like everyone else) I scan the teasers on the cover and think, "honestly, how many more amazing sex secrets can there be?"

I did devour Seventeen when I was a kid, however, as well as Mademoiselle -- (a fact that one of my daughters noted with some indignation when remembering recently that I never let her read Seventeen).

And I always planned my
back-to-school wardrobe accordingly.


In fact, I fully intended to go to fashion design school, although you'd never know it now.

In high school, one of my favorite clothing purchases ever was a pair of high-heeled boots that had sort of "cowboy-boot" styling. They were really rockin', and best of all was how amazing they looked with my pencil-leg jeans.

(Note: skinny jeans were both new and incredibly cool.
In fact, in
Seventeen I learned how to convert all my bell-bottoms
into skinny jeans and I got busy on my sewing machine immediately!
Unfortunately, Utah was quite behind in fashion and therefore I was
immediately un-cool at my school until they caught up. Good thing I
was completely used to being un-cool.)

But my mother was less than enthusiastic
about my new boots.

She told me that "only hard girls wear boots and jeans."

This has become a much-quoted line in our family.
Things that "only hard girls do."

And so I suppose I've always assumed that
"only hard girls read Cosmo."

But I have a feeling Aunt Lillie might have read Cosmo.
She did have a penchant for questionable romance magazines

staying up late into the night in her men's pajamas,
devouring another from her stack of "True Love."

Aunt Lillie also, to her credit, instantly recognized the awesomeness of my new boots, immediately inquiring as to their price.
When I told her she said,

"Oooooh, they skinned you alive!"

But they were totally worth it -- we both understood that.

I think Aunt Lillie must have been a bit of a fashionista in her day --

some of the pictures I have suggest it --

and she did, after all, work in a ladies' dress shop

until she opened her own shop selling children's clothes.

So when a friend recently presented me with
one of the most awesome gifts

I couldn't help but think of Lillie.

Although she was definitely not a "hard girl," I could absolutely imagine her sneaking a late night peak at some of the racier stories.

Because, in case you're wondering,
even in 1938 only "hard girls" read Cosmo.

That's pretty obvious -- they're rife with stories of scandalous divorces, of women with careers, of "reefer parties" and swing musicians . . . truly daring stuff.

But no explicit sex secrets.
I guess the parameters for being a "hard girl" continue to evolve.

In fact, I doubt that my mom
would even raise an eyebrow at those boots now.

Come to think of it, I wish I had them back . .

How do you think they'd look with my
"46-year-old-mom" jeans?


Windy City Whirlwind . . .


We're back . . .

from a weekend

in the Windy City,

and we had a wonderful time.

A "last hurrah" for Hannah before school resumes . . . and BTW, thanks for taking the pics!

We went to do several things, but most important
on my list was the delivery of this piece:

"Group," 2009, signed, sealed AND delivered! (and with my usual flash -- sorry)

(Sunday Brunch at the Mill Rose was also important, of course, and that's not to take anything away from Saturday lunch at Gino's East. Oh yes . . . and the Art Institute -- let's not forget feeding the eyes and soul!)

But today I'm feeling that somehow summer has s-p-e-d by

and it will be just a blink until we're off
to Chicago again for showtime.


(would someone please show me how to release the brake?)


Can Friday mean Show-and-Tell? Sure!

"If a poem can be improved
by its author's explanations,
it never should have been published."

Archibald MacLeish, American poet

And therein lies the basis of my love affair with poetry --

it says more with less words.

But I find the same principle to be the hardest thing in my artwork.
Where to stop?

There's so much to be said for simple.

There are several games on The Price is Right (all my best analogies are found there) based on the idea I'm talking about. The contestant is presented with a long row of numbers, and has to "frame" the price by moving the frame along until it contains only the correct few.

Those games always seem really hard to me.

In the series 876594, for instance, how am I supposed to determine whether the hot tub is $7659.00 or $6594.00, not to mention the possibility that it's an exceptionally nice hot tub and is actually $8765.00?

It's the same with making -- I just keep moving the frame along until I feel like it contains the right elements. A bit too far, or not far enough, and it just won't say EXACTLY what I want it to. Sometimes I miss the mark. I have an easier time paring down words than I do images.

But sometimes
things turn out
than I hoped.

When I first read Georgia O'Keefe's line,

"I want real things --
music that makes holes in the sky,"

I thought, "now THAT'S poetry."

And I wanted to create some visual poetry to go with it.

But I knew I might have to step outside my regular style to do it. I wanted to keep the usual ingredients, but "frame" them in the sparest way possible -- I wanted to say more with less.

As you may remember, here's where I started:

And here's where I stopped:

It's the first in my
"Music That Makes Holes in the Sky"
and I really love it.

It has just the right "realness" to it -- hand stitching, my own and someone else's -- and the old quilt brings texture and history to complement the piece of New Mexico sky in the wool . . .

Oops! Too much explanation?

Okay, I'll stop.


You CAN, and in fact WILL, take it with you.

No, not your money -- but your memory,
or memories, of course.

They are one of the few things in the world that belong uniquely to you. Even if you go through the same experience with someone else, your memory of it will be completely your own.

A fingerprint on your brain.

I was thinking of this for a couple of reasons. One of our daughters was talking about something recently that made Russ and I both raise an eyebrow and grin at each other -- it was a skewed memory, at best, perhaps even a fabricated one.

Which is not the same thing as a "fabrication" (read: lie), but is some kind of tricky amalgam of events and perceptions and time.
We all make them.

"You Don't Say," L.K. Hanson

Chelsea and I were at the store the other day and had a little disagreement. It was actually a failure to communicate about this:

It did not involve whether or not to purchase the package of candy (we were already in agreement on that, of course) but we were looking for the best package -- the one containing a good ratio of flavors we both like. Chelsea kept telling me she really liked the blue ones; I didn't see any packages with blue. After a few puzzling minutes I realized that Chelsea calls the purple suckers the blue suckers. So while her mouth is watering for delicious blue tootsie pops, mine is getting itself ready for purple grape-y goodness.

One man's blue is another man's purple, I guess.

"F Minus," Tony Carrillo

Last week my father sent me a history of his mother that he had just written, at the request of some cousins who were putting together histories for a family reunion. It was fascinating -- some of the stories I had heard before, some validated or explained personality traits I remember in her.

There was even a big moment where I
recognized something in myself and said,
that's where that came from!"
Fun to still be figuring things like that out.

And it got me
thinking how
I would love
to be able
to read her version
of the same story.

Put the two up side by side and enjoy the story that emerges between the lines.

But alas she left us all too soon,
and took her memories with her.

In the packet were some pictures I had never seen before.

In this picture, for instance,

judging by her facial expression I think we can safely assume that my dad's memories of the day might differ slightly from his mother's.

Which I'm finding, as my kids get older, is often the case. I only wish they remembered things better than they actually were more often.

Note to self:
Space is increasingly at a premium.
Try to concentrate on storing
the best parts.


We are experiencing technical difficulties . . . Please stand by.

Some pieces go together relatively easily.
Some require a little swearing.

Luckily I do most of it

a) in my head

b) at myself

Like when I was mounting words on my l-o-n-g piece and dropped a letter "U" glue side down on the matboard.

In the wrong-wrongity-wrong place!

Ever tried to clean glue off the wrong place on a very expensive double matboard that your piece is already mounted on?

Like I said -- there was swearing.

But I have yet to find a word so bad that it magically removes glue. If any of you know of such a word, please send it to me.

My work is full of unfortunate mishaps. Sometimes they make it better. Sometimes they are the only thing I can see on the piece no matter how well it turns out.

Once I complained to my art school daughter that the reason I hate drawing is that nothing ever comes out the way it looks in my mind.

No matter how hard I try, the lines on the paper are not the same lines I see in my head.

She, as usual, had a great answer, assuring me that:

"Nothing any artist ever makes looks the same way it does in their mind. If it did, they would quit trying to make it. Which means they would quit making art. Because all artists are basically just trying over and over again to make something actually look the way they see it."

Such comfort!

It made me wonder what the artist who came up with this magazine craft in 1951 intended it to look like . . .

The Old Woman Who Lived in the Squash (with garlic breasts)

Because I've made some clunkers in my time, but seriously. These would be very cute (and you might actually send a picture to Grandma!) if your six-year-old made them.
But a two page spread in a magazine?
Do you know how hard I had to work for that?

Scary Veggie-Clown Guy

Don't try this at home.

Okay, Tricky Cowboy tugs at my heartstrings a little

No matter how much extra zucchini you have.

Creepy Couple, smoking at the Farmer's Market

Anyway, it wasn't the only time Lindsay's come to my aid with a bit of sage advice or a wonder product they only tell you about when you get the $100,000.00 degree.

She once brought me a secret art school eraser that has one abrasive end which works like magic on things like matboard. For instance, one memorably bad day, I flung 3 big blobs of brown paint (%#&@!!) on the mat of a just-mounted piece two days before a show . . .

(not a good day to be hanging around my studio, BTW.)

AND THE MAGIC ABRASIVE ERASER GOT IT OFF! Hardly noticeable at all, except by me (I held my breath until the piece sold . . . but come to think of it, I pretty much do that on every piece for one reason or another.)

I thought the magic eraser was going to come to my aid today, but unfortunately, it couldn't undo this boo-boo.

But luckily I was in the magazine business for 8 years regularly performing feats of impossible and ridiculous craft magic in a deadline pressure cooker! So it only took me 4 hours of tap dancing in my studio to come up with a workable solution.

Let the breath holding begin . . .


Small Works' Science Friday . . . and some advice about feet.

"A man is a poet if the difficulties inherent in his art
provide him with ideas . . ." Paul Valery

I'm not sure whether this qualifies me or kicks me out. Depends on the day. I certainly find plenty of difficulties inherent in my art -- in fact, next time will someone please remind me that pieces which are over 28" long,

while being great fun to look at on the wall, are absolutely beastly to wrangle in the final stages of the process?

But I do find it to be true that while I'm working on stuff
I don't want to be doing
I'm often consumed by ideas for things
I DO want to be making.

It's a little like thinking about baked goods
while you're eating your broccoli.
Of course it only yields results if you do something about it.

Working : Getting Ideas

Eating Donuts : Getting Fat

When I'm not working,
my idea machine seems to stall for some reason.

Which is really rude, because when I am working, I don't have time to act on the great ideas I have. Just a little Friday complaint for whoever is in charge of such things in the Universe.

I actually saw a story on the news last night which reported that "Eating a high fat diet can make you stupid and lazy."

More specifically, that 10 days on a high fat diet decreases your brain function and makes you feel less like exercising.

Seriously? Did someone pay for that study?
They should have just called me.

I could have told them some things about 46 years on a high fat diet.

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure they've got their science exactly right. Because in my own research I have discovered that going
to Santa Fe for a few days

sopaipillas + guacamole = fat

is a great way to jump start my idea generator. This time it was about the third day, in the shower, when the ideas started pouring down with the water and I had to grab a pen and paper to keep up.

One of them is already underway, and springs in part from the lovely Georgia O'Keefe quote I shared with you last week about
"music that makes holes in the sky."

Here's what it looked like in the beginning:

It's progressed a little now, and I'll show it to you again
as it comes along.

A new little song. . .
something to keep me exploring and engaged.

It's such a comforting feeling
when the ol' brain
starts working again.

Because sometimes when I'm slogging away watching Hoss eat pancakes and Little Joe chase girls on my 800th Bonanza rerun (yes, I watch Bonanza while I'm working -- surely that's another post) I fear that I may never have another good idea -- or time to act on one, if it did occur -- as long as I live.

Which causes me to not only stop thinking about future work, but also to stop basking in the love of process that makes me want to make things to begin with.

I guess I need to turn off the TV and remind myself
to "be where my needle is" sometimes.

All week long in Hinckleyville, we've been saying,"last week at this time we were in Santa Fe doing (blank)." Which is dangerous, because we've missed a full week of precious MN summer thinking about why last week was better.

If I were a cartoonist, (bear in mind that my cartoons would be goofy and simple because of my lack of drawing skills) today's would probably look something like this:

Enjoy your weekend,
wherever your feet may be standing.

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