I'm as corny as Small Works in August . . . isn't there a song about that?

Something big is happening this weekend.  A day many Minnesotans dread.  And with good reason, because as the weather man said dejectedly on the 10:00 news the other night, "Once it's August, it's the State Fair.  And as soon as the Fair ends, it snows."  

Yes, we're a bit fatalistic about summer's  approaching demise in Minnesota.  The dread starts sometime near the end of spring and nags at the backs of our minds from the day we plant our annuals to the day we see our first big black cricket . . . dark harbinger of summer's end. 

But there is good news as well, my friends!  For now we are in the high holy days of sweet corn in the Midwest.  We've passed "knee high by the fourth of July" and have made the jump to "as high as an elephant's eye" and you just can't beat sweet corn eaten right out of the field.

Here in Hinckleyville, we go to the "corn drive-thru" down the street at Pahl's farm market -- HONK FOR CORN!  You pull up, honk your horn and they hand you a brown paper bag just bursting with the stuff.  We've already had our family "Corn Fest" this year, an event at which Russ attempts to kill himself by eating corn on the cob (and has darn near succeeded on several occasions.)

Don't try to get between Russ and his corn.

But we're a corn loving family in all four seasons.  And being the Twin Peaks freaks-n-geeks that we are (Lindsay went to the Twin Peaks festival out in Washington for her high school graduation trip -- it's that bad), we of course had to come up with a good recipe for creamed corn.

And it has become a beloved staple at family gatherings!  

I was raised on the canned stuff and liked it as much as you can like any canned vegetable, but I wanted to come up with something much better than that.

So I married my love of New Mexico with an amalgam of several creamed corn recipes and landed on something that is SO WONDERFUL, it will definitely enhance any Hooray-it's-August Fiesta you may be planning this weekend.

Here's the recipe:

(I use frozen corn,
but you could of course
cut some right off the cob
if you have that kind of 
dog-days-of-summer energy)

Hinckley Creamed Corn
(brought to you via Snoqualmie Falls, WA and Santa Fe, NM)

20 oz. frozen corn
1 pint half-n-half
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 lg. can (7 oz.) chopped green chiles, drained
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

In a skillet, combine corn, 1 cup half-n-half, salt, sugar, pepper, green chiles, and butter.  Cook until butter is melted. Whisk together remaining half-n-half and flour and stir into corn.  Cook over medium heat until thickened, and corn is cooked through.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan until melted.  Serve hot. 

(I usually make it, dump it in a casserole and put it in a warm oven until we're ready to serve.) 

By now you should know that this is as close
  to a food photo as you're going to get on Small Works.

Happy-Husking Weekend!



Poetry appreciation . . . or "one great idea deserves another."


Actually, to be fair, we should probably let William 
speak for himself at this juncture:

"The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her; and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place  . . ." 
Wm. Wordsworth

Now that's just lovely, isn't it?

I've been having a wonderful time getting my poetry groove on again after a too-long hiatus, and the experience has been made even better by the invention of the internet while I was on break, because I can share my work and enjoy others' with such minimal effort!

No more pounding them out on my manual typewriter, making photocopies, and having to pay university tuition (although it was admittedly MUCH cheaper then) to get someone to read my poems.

And I am just delighted to find that there are so many other closet poets in the world.  It  makes you wonder what other amazing things your neighbors are capable of that you might never suspect.

What goes on inside this house?  Anything else we should know about?

Reading people's poetry feels, to me, 
just like "leaning my ear in many a secret place . . ."

One of the poets whose work I've come 
to enjoy most over at Magpie Tales 

The poet creates "found" poems using words from vintage books in the old fashioned cut-and-paste method.  Each poem is found within a single book.  I find her imagery to be just beautiful, and of course I'm naturally drawn to anyone who cuts up old texts to use in their work.

(Her needlework is very cool as well, btw -- icing on the cake! -- 
and you can check it out at her etsy shop.)

I wish I'd thought of creating my poems this way first . . . how could I have overlooked such a splendid and, for me, OBVIOUS idea?  I guess I'm just not as smart as I think I am.

It reminded me of this Small Works Wednesday Rerun  book review  (that I hope you'll enjoy again) -- if you remember the review but haven't picked up the book, do so now!

So from November 2008, here's . . .  

a revelation that has come too late. 

Did you know someone had written an entire novel by cutting and pasting old women's magazines from the 1950's-1960's? First of all, I didn't know anyone but me was still "doing" actual cutting and pasting anymore (I tried explaining what it was to a kid working at Kinko's the other day and I can't even describe the vacant expression I got in return) and secondly, surely no one has spent more time devouring old women's magazines than I have and if someone were going to publish a novel as a result of that hobby, surely it should be a wannabe writer like myself.

But Graham Rawle thought of it first. And what's the point of building the Watts Towers if they've already been built? Some things you just have to be the first to think of. And I didn't.

Anyway, it's an awesome book and a true labor of love. He took 5 years crafting it -- he describes the process in some detail at the end of the book. He first wrote the story, then went through and replaced every single word with a word he snipped. Some descriptions he altered to use old ad copy, resulting in wonderfully quirky images that are just amazing to read.

He had his mother help him by clipping and filing words (I thought that was quite endearing -- she probably read the same magazines the first time around) so he could fill them in later. Every page number (over 400!) was also clipped, and that may be the most miraculous thing of all because finding numbers isn't that easy. All I can say is, I know how long it takes me to find the words I want sometimes, and I truly am in awe of the love required to spend 5 years finding 400 pages of them. Graham Rawle, I salute you!

Woman's World is a fantastic read, and I believe it's now out in paperback (although I got my hardback copy on Amazon used books for under $3.00! Highway robbery! And I'm really sorry, Graham, because I would have been willing to pay much more . . . the price I paid in no way reflects my admiration for you. But what a deal!)

I should probably warn my more sensitive readers that there is cross-dressing involved. It is highly justifiable cross-dressing, but it is cross-dressing nonetheless.

If anyone else reads it, please let me know what you think.
We can have blog-book-club! (say that fast three times)

I just hope to have an idea that good 
once in my life. Just once!

Anybody got any really great ideas 
they want to get rid of?



Magpie Monday 3.0



I'll leave the bed unmade

until you return --

undone with waiting, softly

rumpled with welcome

the crumbs of my worry

brushed away, a place where we

can fall together again

my foot looped over your bent knee

the lamp light a moon

in our night sky -- perhaps

it would be best if we both make it

pulling the sheet up tightly

tucking the wrinkles, corners smoothed

so we can leave together

but for now it will wait with me 

unmade and ready 


For more Magpie Tales, please visit the link
or better yet . . . write your own!

C'mon -- we can mix needlework with poetry,
rhythm in stitch and words in the fibers we work with --
It's all in the telling.  Speak up.

Happy Back-at-it-Monday!


Quelle Surprise.

Here's a (bad) picture of something that's NOT 
getting finished before San Francisco: 

(That mess on the floor in the background?  Not getting cleaned up, either.)

Yes, I came to that realization
at 4:35am yesterday while I was
lying awake with a toothache
and humming Freddie Mercury's "Don't Stop Me Now."

The inimitable Freddie Mercury

Freddie had more energy at that particular moment than I did (bear in mind that Freddie is, sadly, no longer with us), and I decided that it was a good time to reevaluate my To-Dos and come up with a more reasonable list.

I find that most projects are best canceled 
while lying in bed.

A team of top scientists study the merits of the mattress as a tool for responsible decision making.

(It causes one to see things in a completely realistic light.)

But that doesn't mean that 
NOTHING is getting done! 

And I'm pretty happy with what's going on down in the ol' studio (not the centipede invasion caused by our wet summer, the WORK!) so I'm excited to paint frames and then take some mediocre photos for a little


I'm havin' such a good time,
havin' a ball!

If you wanna' have a good time,
just give me a call!

(By which I mean we could do a little needlework together 
and perhaps enjoy lunch, of course.)

Happy day-before-Friday!



If it's Tuesday, it's PAST time . . .

 Has anyone heard from Susan?


 No?!  Well, she's probably either: 
a) at the dentist
b) at the endodontist
c) at the endodontist again
d) making an appointment to come back 
for another appointment since she prefers her dental work 
to be as SLOW and DIFFICULT as possible
e) creating art (in her spare time)

My preferred answer would, of course, be (e), but when an "all of the above" option is given, it's probably best to go with that.

So I suppose we'll have to peruse the archives for something worthwhile today in hopes that Susan comes up with an idea that doesn't involve dentistry or any related field for her next post.
Hmmm . . . Here's something:


Tuesday's Itty Bitty Food for Thought: 

Take a commonplace, clean and polish it, light it so that it produces the same effect of youth and freshness and spontaneity as it did originally, and you have done a poet's job.
-Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) French writer/filmmaker

It doesn't have to be a spectacular idea, but you should follow at least one 
notion every day to see where it leads.


Could be just a train of thought 
bound for an unfamiliar destination,


a doodle destined only 
to be hidden under the paperweight on your desk,


or a seed from a packet bearing 
no particular picture or description.

I -- If

D -- Denied

E -- Eventually

A -- Atrophy

S -- Strikes

Flip the switch and allow your brain 
to shine a little every day.


(It was a good idea the first time, and it's still golden!)

(even if you just read it for the second time. . .)



Saturday Surprise . . .

Gee!  I wish we had a REAL horse to ride.

Me too.

This is BORING.

Hey --

do you hear what I hear?!

Boy Howdy!!

(hope your weekend's chock full of "yeehaw!")



Hump Day Ho-Hum.

 It being a mid-July Wednesday on which you are all undoubtedly engaged in a summer bask of one kind or another, 

I thought it would be entirely appropriate if we hurdled the week's hump together with a Small Works Wednesday Re-run from last year at this time.  If you caught it the first time, please forgive me for phoning it in today; if you didn't have a chance to check it out then, hopefully you'll enjoy it now . . . 

 "An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one."

A man named Charles Horton Cooley said that.

I have no idea what Charles Horton Cooley looked like, so New Neighbor No. 8 will have to stand in. I hope Charles won't mind.

My mother once said:

"You're famous to me!"

Although it was a sweet, mother-like thing to say, somehow it didn't necessarily make me feel more successful.

F Minus, Tony Carrillo

Occasionally I'm forced to do something as an artist that makes me really nervous. This week it was submit a sketch with a proposal. Drawing is my artistic Achilles' Heel, and nothing makes me more afraid that someday I'll be kicked out of the club.

Well, drawing AND talking about art. I think because I don't have an art degree, I haven't learned to converse with the proper amount of artsy B.S.

But take heart, would-be and wannabe artists everywhere, because today I have some

Friday (well . . . Wednesday) Fun for Everyone!

It's PIXMAVEN, a little gem that will generate all manner of artistic baloney for you to say when you need to sound educated in the art criticism arena.

All you do is submit a 5 digit number, and the site strings together some phrases from a bunch of numbered nonsense that can be applied in any art situation to virtually guarantee success.

By inserting my childhood zip code, for instance, I was able to come up with this:

"It's difficult to enter into this work because of how the reductive quality of the sexual signifier verges on codifying the remarkable handling of light."

How many times have I wished I'd said that?

And my old Seattle zip code yielded this:

"As an advocate of the Big Mac Aesthetic, I feel that the mechanical mark-making of the biomorphic forms brings within the realm of discourse the eloquence of these pieces."

When's my next gallery opening?
Or is it time for a new artist statement?

Or maybe I should have generated a smart-sounding explanation of my dumb-looking sketch before I sent it in . . .

All I know is,
success may finally be
within my grasp!

Pearls Before Swine, Stephan Pastis



Magpie Monday Redux.

Summer Love

perfectly ripe, round

and ready to be plucked

it will be every bit as delicious

as this anticipation

from the first kiss

to the fleshy bite--

juice running, thick with seeds

lusty with scent and hungry

to lick up spice and sun

together we'll burst

tomatoes stewing in a pot

skins split, red

simmering and sweet


My tomatoes 
aren't ripe yet, 
so I'll just 
hop on over to  
for my summertime 
flavor fix. 

Hope you'll do the same . . . and

Happy Monday!


If I'm dieting, is it still Friday?

Not in the traditional sense, obviously. 

No Food = No Fun.  

I realize that these are the types of views that have led to the tightness of my summer wardrobe, but I can't help but be a little sad that there's no one taking me out to dinner tonight . . .

But aren't there other ways we can make Friday fun?

Sure . . . I'm thinking . . . I know!

If you're looking for something to do, 
why not check out TAFA, The Textile and Fiber Art List. 

There's plenty to keep you busy there all weekend long.  You can search artists by name, by type of work, by geographic location.  There's plenty of great eye-candy and kindred spirits to boot, no matter what path your stitching takes!  Do yourself a favor and check it out.  It might help you stop thinking about Five Guys with their delicious burgers and fries. (Or was I the only one thinking about those?)

While we're at it, I think we should engage in 
some Friday Rerun Fun.

So here's a tasty Itty Blog Bit for you from last summer, on a topic that's always timely.

Enjoy . . . and Happy Weekend! 

Here at Small Works, 
we're bringing the biggest ideas down
to a more manageable size.

And the question to consider today is:

What is Art?

It's a big concept, but it's no match
for my handy dandy

which explains it like this:

See? Perfectly simple.

It's just so easy to over-think these things.

F minus, Tony Carrillo

So in case you've been wondering whether that project you're slogging away on is ever going to be considered "Art," I think we've found the answer.

Once and for all.

Any other questions while I have the book out?

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