Thursday Tale . . .



He was the keeper of her secrets --
all the bright and dark
spots she had buried deepest
he found with ease
his arms long, his fingers
in everything, nimble
and good with knots
his words carefully shaped, a ring
of old keys working their way
through rusted locks like magic

-- smh

This poem is a Magpie Tale . . . 
And who can't find a tale in this image?


So write your own 
and share it here . . .



Wednesday explores "what if" . . .

I love today's Small Words quote:

Imagination is everything.  
It is the preview of life's coming attractions.

-- Albert Einstein

Hopefully everything I've imagined wasn't an actual preview, per se, because I imagine plenty of things that I don't ever want to see come to pass, but it does make one think about the power of imagination --

It's dabbling in possibility, with no assurance 
as to where the journey of possibility might end.

Which reminds me of sitting in 6th grade science class, 

watching Walt Disney's "Our Friend the Atom" film . . .

. . . of course at that time plenty had already come to pass as a result of our dabbling in all things atomic, and yet watching the news this morning it remained clear that the story continues to unfold.  Which got me thinking.

When I was watching "The Social Network", I kept wondering whether those smarty-pants kids had any idea what they were unleashing when they invented Facebook on a drunken whim --

Of course there was no way they could have.   But for good and bad, their world-changing force continues to sweep through lives around the globe, forming unlikely connections, strengthening old relationships, and throwing off enough energy to transform nations.

For good and bad -- end result open . . .

Because the imagination provides no satisfaction guarantees.

It's all a powerful tribute to the possible -- 

Even though the possible's outside dimensions lie well beyond the small confines of even our most far-reaching imaginations --
we can never know until we go.

Imagination is the voice of daring.  If there is anything God-like about God it is that.  He dared to imagine everything.

-- Henry Miller

And I don't know about you, but I value my imagination well above any past accomplishments.  Because my imagination provides always open doors and a beckoning finger . . . 

The most living of living things.

Live out of your imagination, 
not your history.

-- Stephen Covey

Well said, Gentlemen . . . well said.



Know Thyself, indeed.

If the measure of a weekend is 
how tight your pants are on Monday morning, 
then this past weekend was simply splendid . . .

If it's how much 
you accomplished 
on your lengthy to-do list, 
not so much.

But I was able to cross off one item:

Vocabulary Lesson No. 26, Susan M. Hinckley, 2011, 10.5"x6.5"

One of the great things about being me is that if you suddenly find yourself in need of a toy-sized vintage silver fork, you can find one in your closet.  That's also one of the bad things about being me.

We once set the all-time box count record for our movers.  Due in part, I'm sure, to my habit of acquiring things like toy-sized vintage silver forks with no particular purpose in mind (for the record, I had three to choose from).

The problem is, every now and then I need something like that and when I can put my hands on it with very little effort, it does nothing but reinforce my natural pack-rat tendencies.

Couple that with the fact that I'm obviously 
going to be dieting my way back into my black pants 
(YET AGAIN) for the St. Paul show, 
and I'd say it's a pretty clear indication
that I'm not going to become a better person 
anytime soon.



ps.  Here's a link to something spectacular 
that just might make your Monday . . . it did mine!



To knock on silence . . . with a pencil.

One of the great things 
about having kids away at college  . . .

is that you can go in their rooms whenever you want and borrow their things without permission.  This is more gratifying in some cases than in others -- in Hannah's case, it's nothing short of magnificent PAYBACK.

In fact, she has already warned me that I may be a bit . . . surprised. . . when we pick her up after graduation and I see everything of mine that has somehow made it to Virginia during the three years she's been there . . .

Actually, I won't be surprised at all.
I've known her for 22 years . . .
and I've been looking for my good scissors
for at least that long.

But the point of this 
somewhat lengthy introduction is really this: 

 The Blank Canvas -- Inviting the Muse, by Anna Held Audette

While watering Hannah's plants the other day, 

my eye wandered across her bookcase and I spied this little volume I didn't recognize, and snatched it immediately.  It's been living on my desk in the studio ever since.

I'm a sucker for anything related to exploring the creative process (as you probably know) and this book is a lovely little contribution in that area. 

One of the first things I came across in the introduction, 
"To 'Knock on Silence'", was these three quotes:

I have not worked at all . . . . 
Nothing seems worth putting down -- 
I seem to have nothing to say -- 
It appalls me but that is the way it is.

-- Georgia O'Keefe

Just dash something down if you see a blank canvas staring at you with a certain imbecility.  You do not know how paralyzing it is, that staring of a blank canvas which says to the painter:  You don't know anything. . . .

-- Vincent Van Gogh

. . . and I thought, enough of this, I'm not an abstract painter, what the hell am I going to do?  Should I get a job in a shoe store, sell real estate, or what?  I was really depressed by the whole thing, because I felt like a painter, yet I couldn't make paintings.

-- Ralph Goings

If you can't relate to at least one of those, you've probably never tried to create art.  As the author explains, "Between your inability to make anything and your doubts about whether you've got 'the right stuff,' you're caught in a vicious circle."

So if you currently find yourself in a bit of a creative March Malaise -- a pre-Easter Ennui, so to speak -- I'd highly recommend this dandy little book as an antidote.  It is indeed (as Wayne Thiebaud suggests on the back cover):

"A book of aid and comfort against the enemy of the ominous blank surfaces."

Ahhh -- the ominous blank surfaces.  

How we love them, 
and how we hate them.  

But how to cover them?

One of the blank surfaces  I'm currently facing is a new year -- not the calendar one, of course, but the creative one -- because tomorrow my current creativity challenge is going to end.

3/26 -- Small Works' Happy Thought Turns One!  

And then, sadly, expires . . .

I'm pleased to report that I didn't miss a single day of the year, and I've truly enjoyed the constant companionship of my beloved vintage illustrations and the ongoing word game of trying to caption them effectively and within the framework I established.  And I've got quite a volume (stuffed in a binder) to show for my efforts! 

I hope some of you have enjoyed looking at them throughout the year, and I plan to leave them up for awhile so you (and I) can visit them now and then.


It's an important question, and not to be taken lightly because now I know first-hand that a 365 day creativity challenge is valuable, but nothing to be sneezed at.  It's just that:  A CHALLENGE.

Actually, I think I've decided what I'm going to do.  Several years ago (when I started this blog) I threw out the idea of creating a drawing every day.  Unfortunately, I was too daunted by the specter of blankness of the hypothetical blank pages, armed with only a pencil, and couldn't commit to doing it.

I believe I'm ready now. 

I'm not sure what has changed in the two years,
but I think I'll just give it a shot.

I'm not starting tomorrow, nor even the next day . . . not yet.  But soon.

If I forget, please remind me.  Actually, not much chance of that since, until I begin, I'll be staring at the blank ceiling every night with my palms sweating. I'd feel roughly as confident if I'd decided to tackle some calculus every morning before breakfast.

To those of you who find calculus and/or drawing to be . . . *yawn . . . EASY, I say, good for you!  (So find your own challenge.)

I'm going to buy myself some swell drawing materials, to start with  . . . perhaps a lovely little moleskine, some new pencils and pens . . . because spending money is one of the best ways I know of committing myself.  (Why do you think I own PILES of running shoes?)

Know thyself . . . 
and then do the hard thing anyway.  

That's what I always say. 
And that's what I'm going to try to do.

I'll keep you posted.  

Happy Weekend!

(Yes, it's a self-portrait.  Yes, it looks like a third-grader drew it.  You see what I'm up against . . .)



It's baaaaaack . . . . .

Say it ain't so. 

Seem too dramatic?
A bit of an overreaction?!

Please don't judge me.  It's been a long winter.  
But you know that -- after all, you've heard about it ad nauseum, right?

Oh no.  
I only want to make it go.
We thought that Spring was nearly here,
But we've been fooled again, I fear.
And probably will be once more
Before we're done with this for sure.
I'd like to see the sun instead --
I really want to stay in bed!
But I am certain we'll survive
(If only hope can stay alive . . .)

 Susan's breakfast view from the kitchen . . . 
somehow just made her want 30 pancakes.  With syrup.

Wait . . . what's that?

(*Translation:  It. Can't. Last.)

Clap your hands if you believe . . .



Reading the smoke signals.


If you popped into my house 
for a little visit today,
you might wonder what the Hinckleys 
were up to over the weekend . . .


It smells EXACTLY like we had a whole troop of cub scouts 
practicing building campfires.

In the living room.

The towel I used for my shower this morning?  

Smelled like I wrapped myself in it and sat around a bonfire on the beach singing songs 
until 10 minutes before I had to use it to dry off from my shower . . .

(and my shower was all the way UPSTAIRS)!

A result of my own stupidity, of course.

When I attempted to make Aunt Lillie's scalloped potatoes for Sunday dinner, I should have paid attention to the part that said "put a cookie sheet under the casserole" before putting it in the oven.  Instead I surveyed the situation and decided it wasn't necessary.  WRONG.

Then I got busy doing a Jillian Michaels workout and couldn't be bothered to stop and figure out why it smelled like the house was on fire. 

Probably not the only advice of Aunt Lillie's 
that I should have heeded but didn't.

Besides that, the potatoes were a gluey, sticky gray mess.  I made the recipe many times as a young bride, but hadn't bothered with them for about 25 years.  Then I got a hankering yesterday when we stuck a good old-fashioned roast in the oven.  I thought I made them the same way I used to, but ICK.

And with the smoke smell on top of it?  DOUBLE ICK.

Now we have TRIPLE ICK, because I went to the store to get some kind of air freshener so I could stand to live here and couldn't find anything that was unscented.  So I chose Febreze "Linen & Sky."  Cooper slunk from room to room giving me a death-glare as I followed him spewing the sickeningly sweet solution.

I don't know what "Linen & Sky" smells like.  It seems like linen would smell like fabric of some kind (which I should like) -- and sky . . . I have no idea whatsoever, but I don't think sky smells like this.

Now the house smells a little like Aunt Lillie got  too close to the campfire while wearing a whole bottle of exceptionally flowery old-lady perfume and unwittingly participated in a burnt-flower chemistry experiment of some sort . . .

Or like someone is smoking surreptitiously in the next stall in a public restroom that uses a REALLY-UNFORTUNATE-SMELLING deodorizer.

I think you should wait a day or two 
before coming to visit.

I'll let you know when it's safe.  And I'll even bake you something.

But not those potatoes.  It may be 25 years before I make those again, and of course in 25 years I will have forgotten that I need to do the cookie sheet thing, and then I'll survey the situation and decide I'm smarter than Aunt Lillie and pop the casserole in the oven . . . . but surely I won't be doing a Jillian Michaels workout in 25 years, so I'll smell the problem immediately and fix it before it becomes critical . . . right?






 Don't let his conservative attire fool you . . .

this cat's ready to swing.

(Hope yours is swell.)



"Green how I want you green. Green wind. Green branches" . . . Frederico Garcia Lorca

Today's Small Words quote
(which I'm going to repeat now because it will disappear tomorrow . . .)

Like a piece of ice on a hot stove 
the poem must ride on its own melting.

-- Robert Frost

is a perfect description of the poem that is our first 50 degree day in Minnesota.

The state is (along with the spirits of its residents)  
riding high on its own melting today, folks.  

And looking out the studio window, 
I actually have a glimpse of *gasp* -- GROUND.

Hello, ground!  How I've missed you! 
(I'm not sure I even realized how much.)

I had to live in the desert before 
I could understand 
the full value of grass in a green ditch.

-- Ella Maillart

Or in March terms . . .
I had to live in a snowglobe before I could understand the full value of a world not tossed in white with every passing wind, painted endlessly with a brush devoid of color, smothered under a blanket which no amount of wishing could peel back . . .

And so now, there you are . . . ground. 

And some day, there will be grass in a green ditch, as well.  But we shan't get greedy today.

Just seeing you, your wink of promise from under the retreating snow, is enough.

Somehow it just got easier to wait.



Feeling better, Susan? Why yes. Yes I am. Thank you for asking.

Hooray for Monday!  
Such a welcome change from the weekend!

Because it's laundry day?  No.   
Because I did nothing but feel cranky over the weekend.

1)  Still winter. 
2)  No vacations planned.

In fact, as I thought about it, I realized my past two "vacations" have been to shows, and as anyone who has ever worked a show can tell you, it's FAR from a vacation!

So it was a sanity saver -- 
when my friend fantastic stitcher Flannery Dolan
stopped by the studio today

for a long overdue lunch/catch-up/show-and-tell.

And imagine my delight when she unveiled this piece 
from her carefully wrapped bag of treasures:

Pity Party, Flannery Dolan, 2011


Ms. Fate must have known I was in a funk and sent me a good-natured little kick in the pants to remind me to get over myself.  Did it work?  Have I stopped wishing I were somewhere else and just embraced the icy/windy/slow-slog-toward-spring that is March in MN?

But nothing cheers me up 
like time spent with:


I've said it before and I'll say it again:  

Creativity Saves Lives.

(Okay . . . vacations work well, too! But when you drag your husband all over the country schlepping your work to shows, you have to realize that some people have real jobs and you may have already selfishly eaten all their vacation time . . . Oops! Sorry, Sweetie!  Pity party over.)


ps.(4 hours later) 
Okay, okay . . . now I've REALLY been shown the error of my cranky and self-absorbed ways . . . just in time for an afternoon snack, this showed up at my door courtesy of another friend:

Enough to bust my return-to-diet-Monday, don't you think?  But I've learned my lesson, Ms. Fate!

Now I'll happily stop complaining and just spend a chocolatey minute being thankful for good friends and a sunny (I didn't say warm!) afternoon. Thank you!




Happy is good, if you can be it.
Sunshine is lovely, when you see it.
Some people limp, while others can dance -
It seems there's a lot left up to chance.
But whether a clear or cloudy sky,
The one thing you can control is "try".
(I know -- that's easier said than done,
But you'd get bored if it ALL was fun.)

-- smh

(Try to have a great weekend!)

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