Sunday Scribble

image by Manu Pombrol


does this sound fair
to present only one side
of a complicated story?

yet all I have to tell
is what I witnessed, things
I heard, my thoughts

true but slanted
light through the slats
my half-opened blind, all this

I can offer and call it
the facts, bits and pieces
of the only truth, I know

no more than what I could see
from where I was sitting
and I could not shift

position, with nowhere to be
but where they put me
there I was


Must be time for The Mag!  
Click over now to find out 
what else was going on 
in that busy little jar...
(and add a tale of your own)


P I Y P.

So I can't believe I missed 
National Poem In Your Pocket Day . . .

(Thanks to Leenie at Side Trips for calling this glaring error to my attention, btw...and you can read her delightful post about it here!)

But just because I've been consumed with all-things-move doesn't mean we shouldn't have a little belated acknowledgement of the day here at Small Works, because there is nothing we love more than that perfect little arrangement of words that, as soon as they bump up next to each other, somehow magically become a poem.

I loved poetry from a very young age.  My father always recited it (still does).  And I have fond memories of my big sister practicing a highly dramatic reading of Alfred Noyes' The Highwayman for her 9th grade English class night after night as I would drift off to sleep in the next room.

That poem had it all in my young opinion -- drama, romance, jealousy, revenge, even a hint of sex! -- and it was my favorite for a long time. I felt it was a terribly sophisticated choice.  Now it always makes me smile.

But I remember being delighted to find it included in this little volume:

This book turned up at my 10th birthday party, the gift of a dear childhood friend.  I loved it then, and I love it even more now, partly as a result of the charming inscription:

(Elizabeth Smart's aunt, by the way -- just an interesting factoid.  
And she looked almost exactly like Elizabeth.)

I thought it was such a cool and thoughtful gift, from one nerdy intellectual 10-year-old to another.  I remember all my other gifts at that party sort of paling in comparison.

The preface of the book says this:

"This is the age of science, of steel -- of speed and the cement road . . . Science and steel demand the medium of prose.  Speed requires only the look -- the gesture.  What need then, for poetry?

Great need!

There are souls, in these noise-tired times, that turn aside into unfrequented lanes . . . here the light, filtering through perfect forms, arranges itself in lovely patterns for those who perceive beauty.

It is the purpose of this little volume to enrich, ennoble, encourage.  And for man, who has learned to love convenience, it is hardly larger than his concealing pocket."

-- Roy J. Cook, Editor

The idea of National Poem In Your Pocket Day is that you select a poem you love and carry it with you to share with whomever you like -- coworkers, friends, family.  You can also share it on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

Poets.org offered these ideas 
for unfolding your pocket poem and sharing it with the world:

  • Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Hand-write some lines on the back of your business cards
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
  • Project a poem on a wall, inside or out
  • Text a poem to friends

  • All good ideas!
    I love the idea of posting small verses in public places.  I know how happy it would make me to come across such a gem on my daily travels.

    Yes, poems are still for those who perceive beauty.  And in the immediacy of our digital age, it couldn't be easier to share the beauty when we find -- or better still! -- create it. 

    Come on . . . do your friends a favor. 
    Text someone a poem and their day just got 
    a whole lot better.  Guaranteed. 
    (I speak from experience, lucky me!)

    Happy Weekend!


    Yes......I mean YOU.

    People are funny --

    and if you haven't figured that out,
    why you just haven't been paying attention!
    That's part of what makes doing shows enjoyable and worthwhile -- having the opportunity to observe -- and sometimes even talk to! -- funny, funny people.

    One of my favorite conversations of the past weekend was with a guy who didn't look like the typical Small Works art appreciator (yes, there's definitely a type -- if you wonder whether you fit the mold, look at me for clues).

    He was immediately drawn to my diminutive stitches and just couldn't stop looking at them.  After a few minutes, he started to ask me questions about my work. I could soon tell that we perhaps shared some common personality traits.

    He asked how my eyes are holding up -- I could see that his glasses were getting as thick as my own -- and whether I use a magnifier.  I told him that I've been holding out, but it's getting expensive to purchase new bi-focals every year and so I've considered trying one. Then he told me his idea for magnifying his own woodcarving work...

    He said he works as a photographer for a local news station, and therefore is always thinking cameras.  He has an idea that (and here it got a bit technical for my limited understanding) he could use a particular kind of lens and by focusing it on his work, he could see the work projected on a computer screen and then carve by looking at the enlarged image on the screen.

    He was the robotic-surgeon-wannabe of wood carvers!  That made me laugh -- talk about people who have a tendency to make things more difficult than they need to be, but it got better...

    I asked him what kinds of things he carved.  He told me that right now he was working on a clothes chute door.

    I wasn't sure I heard right...a clothes chute door?  A laundry chute?

    Yes.  A laundry chute.  He'd been working on it for over a year.


    He explained that his carvings are quite -- ahem -- detailed.

    Now that is something I would truly like to see.  Still life relief with detergent and lint wad? It was one of the most delightful things I've heard in a long long time.

    Some people develop vaccines, some people carve sticks of chalk with a crochet hook.  Ain't life grand?

    It reminded me of this:

    Ah, the woman who paints on cobwebs!  Cobwebs that are in the Smithsonian. Yes, there are things even...umm...sillier than those to which I devote my own time.  Which is always good to know.

    And it reminded Hannah of another of our favorites, the artist who carves beautifully detailed cameos out of......wait for it.......Oreos:

     Oreo cameos by Judith Klausner

    Some people might ask why, 
    but I need no explanation whatsoever. 

    Anyway, there's something about meeting an unlikely-looking candidate who turns out to be a truly kindred spirit that always reaffirms my faith in humanity.

    Keep doing 
    whatever it is 
    you gotta do, 
    funny people.  

    The world needs you.



    Monday means.....The Small Works Show Report!

    ACC St. Paul 2012 Edition --

    Another show has come and gone . . . . *sigh.

    Hannah did a great job hanging my booth -- it never looked better!

    It was particularly bittersweet because it was my last show for the foreseeable future -- I'm not sure when I'll be doing another, and particularly one with the American Craft Council.

    I was planning to do San Francisco this year, but have decided that things are a bit too up in the air for me to commit to that comfortably.  So I will look to next year.

    But what a delightful weekend it was! 
    Although my regular booth staff was busy doing things like taking a business trip to Delaware and then flying to Singapore (makes my weekend look easy), I had the help of the next generation.  And that was a true pleasure.

    Hannah was more than happy to perch in my booth for the weekend and say nice things about me and my work. I am not sure whether she would say the same smiling things in a therapist's office or not, but she was full of glowing tales of growing up on the floor of the studio.  And I couldn't have paid for a nicer report.

    She volunteered to help because she is wondering whether she'd like to take on the show life for herself and wanted a real taste of it -- she helped hang the show, worked the show, and also helped tear down, and handled it like a natural.  Despite being diagnosed with mono the next day....but that's another story!  (If you met her this weekend, you should be fine as long as you didn't kiss her...but I will admit to wanting to do that several times.  Thanks for your kind words and your wonderful support, sweetie!  I will always have fond memories of our weekend.)

    And speaking of help, the rest of the fam jumped in to fill the gap as well -- sons-in-law helped set up and tear down, as well as driving the truck and putting everything away after, and it was accomplished in record time.  I have assured Russ that he is not fired, but I cannot tell a lie -- having a few strapping young men around wasn't half bad.  Thanks, boys! Always deeper in your debt.

    And now:  Overheard at the Show . . . .

    There was a funny piece of paper circulating, and I wish I'd gotten a copy of it.  One of the artists had drawn up an Art Show Bingo game board, the idea being that you would mark off a square when you heard the comment contained in it.

    We've played a similar casual game in my booth for years, but instead of a bingo-board we have a little checklist.  It contains things like:  "if I win the lottery..." and "cute for a kid's room" -- stuff like that.

    Of course, there are also some really nice things on the list, like: "this is my favorite thing at this show" and "this work is just so happy".  

    I must admit that, besides comments, there are also a few other artists on our list:  the fighting couple who seem to barely survive booth set-up and remain married every time, the woman who wears a muscle shirt and does yoga in her booth during lulls, the way-too-old-for-his-ponytail guy in the might-have-been-sexy-once-hip-huggers who travels with a pretty young thing and puts on quite a sales show, the gal who wears that uber-dramatic severe black thingy and looks like she's been wearing it non-stop since perhaps the 1960's...

    And once again, we were able to check off every box!  That bingo board assured me that every artist must share a similar experience.

    But surely every artist does not enjoy the good fortune of having the kind of wonderful people connect with their work that I do! I love watching people's lights go on.  It makes every stitch worthwhile.

    Hannah observed that I definitely come to art as a writer.  She said that she doesn't really care whether people connect with her images or not, as long as she's happy with them.   But after a day in the booth it was her conclusion that the idea is much more important to me than the image is, and when I fail to communicate the idea to the observer, I feel my art has failed.  I think that's why the label "cute" chafes me like no other. I'm the first to admit that some of my images get dangerously close to being cute, but if you take time to engage with my pieces, there's usually something behind the image that goes a little beyond that.  And THAT'S the part I'm interested in.

    That's where my heart lives, 
    and I think that's what has the potential 
    to make my stitches art.

    So to everyone who said "cute," of course I do thank you.  I know you meant well.

    But to those of you who smiled, or sighed, or laughed, or read every word, or felt compelled to tell me your own story, or even told me I had a very strange and twisted sense of humor (yes, I mean you, sir!) I thank you more.

    Because we shared an idea, a little moment of understanding, and that was the whole point of me threading my needle in the first place. 

    And I hope to see you all again soon....
    here, or perhaps there.  Or anywhere.  

    Keep your eye out for me, 
    and I'll be looking for you too.  

    (p.s. Goodnight, Terri!)


    Oh yeah.....I ALMOST FORGOT!!

    You know you may have too much on your plate...

    when you are worried that you might forget a show --

    That's right, it's the  
    this weekend!  

    That means set-up is tonight and tomorrow, followed by the big champagne kick-off party tomorrow night, and show days Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

    Normally, I would be running around like this:

    trying to survive framing week and get things loaded up to go.

    Instead, I am running around like this:

    getting a whole house full of new carpet today.  The truck is already loaded, and has been since Sunday, as my trusty booth-hand now lives in Phoenix but does drop by to help sometimes on weekends....and so I am going to be doing this show solo.....


    Whatever would possess me 
    to agree to something like that?

    Only the desire to participate in what will almost certainly be my last ACC St. Paul Show.  I want to say goodbye to old friends (and new!) and enjoy hob-nobbing with my fellow wizards one last time before I pack up the studio and work on developing some more lasting relationships with cacti.

    Consequently, I have a whole lot of mixed feelings today.....




    an overwhelming desire to go upstairs and turn down
    the carpet-layers' REALLY LOUD country music

    fear of forgetting something --
    like my booth, or my work, or how to talk about art

    If you are in St. Paul this weekend, I sure hope you'll come by Rivercentre (Booth 1103) to say hello/good-bye!  

    And if you aren't, I sure hope you'll come back 
    for the Show Report 
    (sure to be the last one for awhile) 
    when Small Works returns on Monday, April 23.

    Either way,
    hope to see you soon!




    Magpie Monday.

    Red Roofs, Marc Chagall, 1954 


    I don't know quite what
    to say, there is too much
    under the moon
    to tell just one tale, stories
    of street sounds, flowers
    of memory, things seen
    or just imagined, places
    where it all has happened
    and at night everyone slips in
    a doorway of his own, I will cover
    everything along my way
    with one big color, paint
    that beats a pulse, a pattern
    we share, a word to spread
    make us appear whole, each
    on the same path though
    we talk and walk 
    our thousand different roads

    -- smh

    Who can resist a little Marc Chagall on a Monday?  
    Certainly spices up the chore list a bit!  
    Click your way over to The Mag for more . . .



    "If I could only ________________......"


    I got an actual laugh-out-loud -- 

    (which involves making noise, as opposed to an LOL which is really just more of a smile) when I popped in on Facebook this morning to see what was happening in my friends' worlds.

    In my notifications it said that a friend had mentioned me in a comment, so I clicked on it to see what it was about.  She was responding to her own friend's post showing a needle-felting project she had completed.  After complimenting her friend's success, she said, "I know a FAMOUS felt artist . . . Susan M. Hinckley.  Google her.  Seriously."  

    This is a friend I don't know terribly well, but we've had lunch together a number of times.  I certainly know her well enough that she should realize I am NOT a famous felt artist nor anything else.  It just reminded me how funny and flawed our perceptions are of others.

    When I was younger and just starting out on my art journey, I spent countless hours poring over magazines and books.  I used to think, "If I could just get in a magazine, THEN I would be a real artist.  THEN I would have it made."  Well, I first made it into a magazine a good 15 years ago and I can tell you that it hasn't changed a thing.  Sure, it was always cool standing in the check-out line at the supermarket wanting to tell everyone, "Hey!  I'm IN HERE!" And my mom always seemed to get a kick out of buying a few extra copies.  But that's pretty much the extent of the life-changing that occurred as a result.

    "Happiness is the absence 
    of the striving for happiness."

    -- Chang Tzu 


    For as long as I can remember, I've been a member of the

    "If I could only __________, 
    then I would be happy..." 

    school of thinking.

    Right now it's taking the form of, "If I could only sell this house and get this move over with, then I could live my perfect life in the desert that I've always dreamed of.  And be happy."

    Silly me.

    I think Norman Lear had it right when he said:

    "Life is made up of small pleasures.  Happiness is made up of those tiny successes.  The big ones come too infrequently.  And if you don't collect all these tiny successes, the big ones don't really mean anything."

    Tiny successes like finally having white woodwork in my house.  Even if I'm going to sell it to someone else.  Like having my bathroom finally look like the bathroom I always knew it could be.  I get to live in it for a few weeks, anyway.  And it does make me happy every time I walk in the room.

    Tiny successes like having the OPPORTUNITY to participate in the ACC St. Paul Show next week.  Even though it's terribly inconvenient for me. And lately I just haven't been selling at shows the way a FAMOUS felt artist ought to sell.  It's a pretty big success just to be invited to the party.

    And my crab apple trees are in full blossom.  And I've succeeded in being here to see it yet again.  Sure, Russ is living in Phoenix calling me every day to brag about the Mexican food and the sunshine, but then I have to remind myself that he's missing the crab apple trees.

    Life is good. Right now.  Whether you are famous or not.  Probably even better if you're not, come to think of it, but only as long as you bother to notice it.

    Happy Friday!



    I love words.  

    In fact, I would include my love of language on a very short list of my distinguishing characteristics.

    An article I read this week by Jeremiah Whitten posited that, "Twitter is at the forefront of the decline of America's patience for prose."  I am not on Twitter.  I love ideas and the words used to express them too much to reduce them to 140 "characters", subjecting them to a formula in which letters and empty spaces carry equal weight.

    One of our local school superintendents said on the news this week that, "To today's youngsters, a book or magazine is an iPad that doesn't work."  If that is the case, I certainly hope SOMEONE is helping them understand the value of print -- the power of words on a page, ideas committed to paper.  Ideas made more tangible than they can ever feel in the always changing world of "virtual." 

    Not that I am promoting wordiness.  In fact, the quest to say a thing succinctly is one of my passions. The best ideas expressed precisely, using the best words . . . communication perfection.

    That's why I savored the book I just finished 
    more than anything I have read in a long time:

    Short Takes, edited by Judith Kitchen

    In the years since I studied writing in college, they have invented something called the "short".  And the creative non-fiction shorts in this collection were like pieces of delicious candy to me. Some were by well-known writers, such as David Sedaris, Sherman Alexie, Amy Tan and Terry Tempest Williams. Others were by emerging voices.  And each told a story in what seemed to be the best way possible.

    I handed the book to Hannah to read one of my favorite pieces that was just a few paragraphs long.  After she finished, she let out a long sigh.  She said, "Wow. That was amazing. I know everything about that family -- their complete story.  HOW DO SOME WRITERS DO THAT?"

    Simple.  By using the best words.

    The editor explains in the introduction that by dividing their longer pieces into many connected segments, contemporary writers have embraced the short as a means of reaching an audience.  "In the century of the New York minute and the Internet (not to mention Twitter, I add, which was invented since this collection was compiled) the short has come into its own."

    The pieces range from a few paragraphs to 2,000 words and are described on the cover as inviting us to "experience the power of the small to move, persuade, and change us."

    The power of the small....yes. 

    Little things, like words.

    On pages. 

    To which I intend to hold tightly. 



    Why...Hello! Fancy meeting you here again!

    I got up this morning 
    and put on actual clothes . . .

    It was exciting! I've been living in painting-clothes-exile for so long now, I almost forgot how to put on anything that isn't elastic-waist sweatpants.  But more exciting still is the fact that we've painted our last stroke!

    Make no mistake, the house still looks very much like it did in the photos I shared with you before I left...but that's okay.

    Because the great clean-up is about to begin . . .
    And I'm actually looking forward to it!

    Sure, it's a bit like I might actually look forward to asparagus
    if I'd been eating only broccoli for a month.

    After as much painting/caulking as I've done, cleaning sounds downright fun!

    So I took a little walk at the dog park to celebrate before getting down to work.  It's a beautiful morning -- a chilly spring wind but the sun warm on my back -- and everything alive.  It's as if the whole world just stepped out of its egg and is blinking in the sunshine.

    Everything is covered in the most indescribable green....the color of new. Feels like a perfect day to be alive.  And wearing actual clothes.

    Feels like someone has finally moved the pointer to possibilities.  Things to look forward to.  Buds on the verge of their burst. A delicious period of waiting for something even better.

    Mmmmm.  Spring.

    (and now, spring cleaning...on steroids....

    Happy Monday!

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