Out like an entire flock of lambs.

small changes
subtle as dripping water
inch forward . . .
magic March.

Much is said about "March Madness," but I don't hear a lot about March Magic, which is infinitely more exciting for some of us.

It's the fleetingness of early spring that makes it so extra-delicious.  Soon enough we'll stop noticing the tiniest bump on every branch, eager to mark any progress that may have occurred since we last checked.

There are only a few such days per year, perched high atop the hill at the start of the summer roller coaster -- a vantage point from which we can survey the entire park and revel in the thought that we will stay until closing, eating nothing but treats and riding our favorites again and again.   

This being Minnesota, we'll probably see snow once more.  Because April is the cruelest month.

But that's okay.
Seventy degrees will never feel like such a gift as it does today.

Ask the birds -- 
they're all talking about it.


And now it's time for the continuing saga . . . of Cooper.

Way back when we were still in school, Russ did an internship and we spent the summer living next door to sort of a strange family.  Actually, the family was nice enough -- it was the father that had something a little off about him. 

For one thing, he hardly ever had to work, which is not conducive to normalcy in a 30-something male in my experience. So he had a lot of free time which he spent around the house and in the yard, engaging in loud activities. He was one of those "look at me" types.

Lindsay was just a baby then, so I toted her over to their house and did babysitting for them -- until the day I was dismissed for feeding their children cinnamon toast for breakfast (which their children suggested and fixed for themselves, btw, being well-practiced in the technique.  Fishy.) What did they expect for breakfast . . . steamed broccoli?

Anyway, our most vivid memory of this family is the time the youngest boy broke his leg in a somewhat spectacular fashion and had the most enormous cast I've ever seen on a 3-year-old boy.  So the father did what any normal dad would do -- he put the little boy in a wagon and pulled him around the neighborhood, loudly wailing (the dad, not the kid) "POOOOOOR FRANKLIN!   POOOOOOR FRANKLIN!"  Oh boy.

But I've been thinking about that memory . . . and I've started looking for a wagon.  The problem is, it needs to be a REALLY BIG wagon because of what I need to pull around the block:

Cooper endured his second knee surgery last week, and although he is now begging to jump and run and play, my checkbook is less eager to rebound.  I'm not sure whether I should wail, "POOOOOOR COOOOPER" or "POOOOOR RUSS AND SUSAN" because so far, this dog has set back our retirement just about as much as our youngest child's college education.  (But that's another post.)

Flying McCoys, Glenn and Gary McCoy

Cooper hates nothing more than wearing a big plastic cone on his head, but he seems to be completely unaffected by pain.  They did, after all, slice off his knee, twist the bones around a lot, and reattach everything less than a week ago, but that hasn't really discouraged him from BOUNDING to the door when it opens or to the cookie jar when he sees me enter the target zone.

The nice lady who cared for him at the vet's office commented that, while he has an amazing capacity for pain, he also has quite an endearing capacity for self-pity, and she was right. Cooper is well practiced in the art of "puppy dog eyes." 

Since coming home, however, he's moved more into the "stoic endurance" phase of his recuperation.

He just sighs a lot and hopes someone remembers to reach in the cone and stroke his ear now and then (which I do . . . but it's getting a little icky inside that cone . . . and still a week to go!)

Our biggest problem is keeping him from running and jumping, or from trying to barrel up and down the stairs every time he senses movement on another floor. We'll be fighting those impulses for the next 12 weeks.

Special Agent Cooper, from Lindsay's Dog Comics, 2008

Wouldn't that be a wonderful problem to have?  
Can you imagine if your biggest problem 
was trying to keep  from being too enthusiastic and/or too active?

Me neither.

And on another note . . . if you haven't popped in to visit Small Works' Happy Thought yet, please do!  It's still a little lonely over there, but since I embarked on this little adventure I've taken to jotting  ideas on  every scrap of paper I can get my hands on -- and that includes at the car wash, in the shower, at the grocery store . . .

and I just love when that happens!  

Come to think of it, sometimes my biggest problem is trying to keep my BRAIN from getting over-excited and wanting to run and jump and bound up and down stairs.

Maybe I should put it in a plastic cone?

 On second thought, I'll just keep scribbling down the ideas 
and be grateful I'm not a dog.


Happy Thought . . . in addition to the thought that "It's Friday!" . . . which is indeed happy.

I've always loved Robert Lewis Stevenson's little verse:

Ethel Franklin Betts

The world IS so full of things, and many of them are just grand.
(despite the din being made in Washington and elsewhere)

The world can feel especially wonderful on a sunny Minnesota day in March.  We're about to wind up the first March IN HISTORY with no snow.  March is usually our 2nd snowiest month, and we won't have seen a single flake.  Which is a little scary from a climate change perspective, but just wonderful from a having-to-walk-the-dog perspective.

The red-wing blackbirds are back in town 
and trilling from every treetop, 

and on such an early spring day it feels just like a song to be alive.

It somehow helps you notice the good things.

Which reminds me -- we received something mysterious in our mailbox this week.  It came in a plain white envelope, sealed but completely unmarked, and was tucked amongst our mail and newspaper when I brought them in.

Inside the card was this handwritten note:

I have no idea who it came from, nor even for whom it was intended.  But it was a nice reminder that there are good surprises in the world, along with the bad ones that often get so much more attention. 

Did Oprah issue a mysterious note writing challenge to do-gooders everywhere?

Did someone mistake our mailbox for our neighbor's?

Did one of us possibly actually do something to warrant such a kindness from an anonymous friend?

I don't think we'll ever know.  But it was a little like getting a fortune cookie in the mail, and you know how I love fortune cookies!  (Now if I could just get someone to leave orange chicken and veggie lo-mein in the mailbox . . . )

In response to my quote extravaganza on Wednesday, I received a quote from my niece which she credits to her smart (smart-aleck, actually, and it takes one to know one!) husband which I just loved:

"The world is full of stupid people.  
Try not to be one of them."

Words to live by!  

But what I didn't expect is the tremendous wave of ideas that swept over me in the shower after I had read those words.

Don't ask me why, but for some reason the construction of that sentiment got me thinking and I haven't been able to stop since.
So I've done the only thing I could possibly do when faced with something that truly tickled my fancy, and that is

Yes, Small Works is opening a satellite location here, which will be home to a daily "Happy Thought" with an accompanying illustration.

One fiber artist.  One happy idea.  
Once daily.  For one year.

What a wonderful creative exercise it will be for me!
And yet another opportunity to combine words and images, the act that feeds my soul just like sunshine.

I hope you'll come over and check out my new project (there's a new link on the sidebar, and the address is theworldissofull.blogspot.com.) You don't have to stay long -- that's the point!

Daily happiness in an itty-blog-bit format that I can't wait to embrace. 

See you there!

(weekends too . . . and have a good one.)


Small Works is brought to you today by the three words you've been hoping we could talk about:

Health Care Reform.

Because you haven't heard enough about it, right?

Actually, it is an ongoing exercise in self restraint that here at Small Works we strive to keep our site politically neutral and full of sunshine and love for all of God's creatures whether they lean left or right (or even topple over altogether because their leanings are so ridiculous in one direction or another . . .)

But anyone who really knows me knows that I'm a political/news junkie who will happily engage the checker in the grocery store in a little political banter about the issues of the day if I can just ferret out where they stand through my observation of how they wear their nametag or scan my groceries.

In fact, I keep threatening to start a new blog and not tell anyone about it -- a magical wonderland where I can spout my political views freely and generally fly my freak-flag with reckless abandon.  (If you'd like an invitation to that site when it opens, please see me after class.)

So in the interest of political neutrality, but because I can't possibly keep my mouth forever shut in a world where even the census (the census!) has become a political football -- and because I just filled out my census form while eating a tangerine for breakfast this morning and am therefore feeling a touch of patriotism --

I decided that today I'll serenade you with the words of OTHER people that I find to be somehow applicable to the political climate and the events du jour, while simultaneously providing you with census-reminiscent or politics-related works of American Folk Art.  

Folk Art and Politics!  
In one post!  
Be still my heart!

Lincoln and Washington, Stephen L. Iwasko, probably Midwest, c. 1930, relief carving in wood

"To say nothing, especially when speaking, 
is half the art of diplomacy."  
Will Durant

"Quit worrying about your health.  
It'll go away."  
Robert Orben

 Saturday Night, Clementine Hunter, c. 1968, Melrose Plantation, Natchitoches, LA, acrylic on board

"The trouble with America is that there are far too many wide-open spaces surrounded by teeth."  
Charles Luckman

"THINK, men . . ."
Professor Harold Hill

"If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten."  
George Carlin

Washington Crossing the Delaware, Variation on a Theme #3, Justin McCarthy, ca. 1963, oil on board

"People hardly ever make use of the freedom they have, for example, freedom of thought; instead they demand freedom of speech as compensation."  
Soren Kierkegaard

"Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other."  
Oscar Ameringer

Blue House with People, Bill Traylor, n.d.

"This free will business is a bit terrifying anyway.  It's almost pleasanter to obey, and make the most of it."
  Ugo Betti

"Every man . . . should periodically be compelled to listen to opinions which are infuriating to him. To hear nothing but what is pleasing to one is to make a pillow of the mind.  
St. John Ervine

"It's almost impossible to overestimate the unimportance of most things."  
John Logue

View from Maggie's Window, Laura Lynch

"A great many people mistake opinions for thoughts."  
Herbert Victor Prochnow

"Too bad that all the people who know how to run this country are busy driving taxis and cutting hair."  
George Burns

Lady Liberty of 1953 to 1962?, "Peter Charlie" Boshegan, ca. 1962  A chained, peasant dressed version of Lady Liberty blasts across a blue void.  A headlamp guides her on her mission.  He may have been inspired by events such as the death of Salin in 1953, the Cubin missile crisis, or John Glenn's orbit of the earth in 1962.

"In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten secondhand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at secondhand from other nonexaminers, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing."  
Mark Twain

"I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress."  
Ronald Reagan

  African-Americans Living in New York City, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, 1992

"Everyone's entitled to my opinion."  

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."  
William James

 Delta Painting, Reverend Howard Finster, 1983, Summerville, GA, enamel on wood panel, frame molding.  It says, "Anough (sic) people in the world to hold things togethher if they would only pull together."

"The American political system is like fast food -- mushy, insipid, made out of disgusting parts of things and everybody wants some."  
P.J. O'Rourke

"The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously."  
Hubert H. Humphrey

America 1963, Pauline Shapiro, needlepoint

"People do not like to think.  If one thinks, one must reach conclusions.  Conclusions are not always pleasant."  
Helen Keller

"There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths.  It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil."  
A.N. Whitehead

Peace in the Valley, O.W. "Pappy" Kitchens, 1977

"You can't possibly be dumb enough to think that . . . but can we still be friends?"  
Susan M. Hinckley

Hmmm . . .  
So I guess I'm no better than 
the rest of the intolerant political loud-mouths?  Rats.


Monday. Was there a weekend in there somewhere?

What makes Susan think she can 
go for days without posting on her blog?

Does she think that if she puts 
George Clooney on there now and then 
that will be enough to keep people interested?

Well, I hear she's been quite busy . . .

Maybe we should call her?


Why yes, I've been busy working on my new studio space, and if you think Small Works is the only thing that's been neglected, you should see my kitchen!

Just wrestling the awful hardware off the cabinets took the better part of one morning.

They looked like severed birds' feet, and for some reason they weren't going down without a fight!  How I put up with them for 9 years is beyond me . . .   I guess because they're downstairs, and I haven't spent a lot of time there.

I've accomplished quite a bit, actually!

All the painting is done (we painted everything white, white, white to shed some light on the subject!) and I've just managed to get the new hardware on the cabinets.

The new studio bathroom

But now that the painting is done, 
the real work will have to begin.

Me installing a new floor while wearing a dress?!

First, carpet cleaning.  
Then, MOVING. . .

But how wonderful it's going to be when it's all finished!

Yes, I'll invite you all over for a tour as soon as things are a little more s-i-t-u-a-t-e-d.  
Until then, I'll try to be a better blog friend. 
And here's something to entertain you in the meantime:

Tee hee . . . Couldn't resist.

Brad, Hugh, thanks for stopping by . . . 
but we should at least stay appropriate 
to Small Works' usual illustration style, 
shouldn't we?

Ah . . . Cary. That's more like it.
(Last one, I promise.)


EEEEEKKKKK!!!! It's almost Friday?

Yes, I'm sorry it's been a neglected blog week -- I've been busy with a big painting project in what will soon be my new studio space.  I've been changing the cabinets from a nasty brown-red glopped with dark stain to an eye-popping

(okay, it's actually a little eye-searing -- not EXACTLY the color I thought I picked)

TURQUOISE which will be so cheerful I can hardly stand it.

It's an awful lot of cheer in that enclosed space, but I can only imagine it will do me a world of good some gloomy November afternoon when I'm trying to grab an elusive creative thought.  Anyway, pictures to follow when the project is finished .  .  . but for now, something completely different:

My sister-in-law had an idea on her blog the other day that I thought was brilliant.

She said that next time she's expecting, she's going to get a shirt that says:

"I'm so crafty, I make people."

She could probably sell about a million of those shirts, so I hope she'll make them.

But the idea got me thinking about making things (including people) and I could only conclude that making people is a lot easier than making art . . .  in some ways.

All I had to do was toss my cookies a few times, eat some extra food, sleep a lot and gain about 45 pounds and the "making" part of people seemed to take care of itself.  (Of course, all of us who have children know that it's the 20 years of work after they're born that bites you. . . )

As with art, some folks are naturally better at making people than others.

George Clooney's parents, for instance, are probably quite pleased with themselves. 

And some people seem to have a knack for getting "more bang for their buck", so to speak.

The Dionne Quintuplets

But I had to pop mine out one at a time.

That's why it seemed so positively delightful to me when I received a picture the other day from LuAnne over at Invisible Woman (thanks, LuAnne!) showing me how she had framed one of my printed pieces.

She may have one of my pieces hanging in her house right now.  
And all I had to do is press "print" . . . sinfully easy!  

Not quite as good as the real thing, of course, but then I didn't have to throw up or go through labor and delivery to get it to her, and sometimes making the real thing seems about that hard to me.  

(Well, not quite THAT hard because I can enjoy the Price is Right, Bonanza and a 32 oz. Diet Coke while I'm doing it, none of which was allowed in the hospital delivery room.  But still hard.)

I guess sometimes technology is my friend after all!
(when it's behaving, which come to think of it is also eerily similar to children . . . But in my experience, for the most part my children have been much more well-behaved than my technology.)

Oh well, in this case at least, everything turned out well and I'm feeling just about as pleased as . . . as . . . . well I guess I'm just about as pleased as George Clooney's mother! 

(except that instead of George I came up with a polka-dot chicken.  We all have different talents.)


Monday Medical Malarky . . .

I don't know many people who would say that the quality of their TV viewing experience has been enhanced by the addition of prescription drug advertising.  
In fact, I don't think I know of any.

Note:  If you happen to be the person who invented Cialis and are reading this, I apologize.  But I feel I have to be truthful in this area. You're annoying us, and I don't think that's the kind of "mood" you were hoping for. 

And while we're on the subject, 

 F Minus, Tony Carrillo

what's up with those bizarre outdoor bathtubs you seem to think are such a turn-on? 

But a couple of my best laughs recently have been medication-related, so I guess they are not completely without merit. One occurred the other day when I was watching TV with one of my daughters and there was an ad for a medication.

As the dire list of possible side effects droned on and on, my daughter finally said, "That medication sounds like a real winner.  Who would even want to take that?"

Then a few seconds later, she blurted,

We laughed until we almost fell off the bed.

(It's good to have a sense of humor, even about dire side effects, right?)

Unfortunately, we've been subjected to silly medical ads since advertising was invented.
Who can forget "the heartbreak of psoriasis?"

But the fears of legal liability seem to have raised everything medicine-related to a new level of ridiculousness.

I usually don't pay too much attention to the veritable book of possible side effects that seems to accompany every remedy, but for some reason when I returned from the pharmacy today I casually pulled out the one that came with my bottle of pills and started to read.

It's a medication that I've taken on and off since I was about 13 years old, so imagine my horror at seeing number one listed under the heading  "Common Side Effects Include:" 



Egad.  Surely that's worse than the mild skin condition I'm trying to control.

I'm probably not going to be writing for a few days. . . .
I'm going to be busy looking in the mirror.  A lot.

I guess I should have asked my pharmacist a question: 

When it's my tongue, 
do you recommend I shave or pluck?
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