Thursday already? Time flies...

First, an update on my little bird friends --

All 4 babies successfully made it off the ledge, eventually.
And I was lucky enough to get to see 3 of them take the leap!

It was amazing!  

But then Russ asked me how I am going to entertain myself now that my "science project" has come to an end....and he makes a valid point.  The dining room suddenly seems a lot more boring than it has for the past several weeks.

I immediately looked in the refrigerator to see if I had any accidental science projects started that I could use to replace my baby robin adventure.  But unfortunately (and in a rare turn of events) there's no current candidate for a mold-farm there, since these days I have to keep my refrigerator ever ready for inspection.

Perhaps I should make a tiny "for sale" sign for the nest, in hopes that another family will take up residence?  Hopefully it would get more action than the one in my front yard seems to be generating... 

Which reminds me -- I found this while cleaning out my purse this morning:

Who knows how long it has been there?  But I have a long-standing rule that any fortune cookie fortune freshly re-discovered is just as valid as one that tumbles directly from the cookie onto your plate.  I immediately thanked Ms. Fate for reaching out to give me a pat -- a little "there, there" from the universe to indicate that I'm completely justified in my crankiness at the approaching 4th of July holiday for which I find myself....STILL HERE.

Oh well -- not much rush by any sane person to get to Phoenix in July anyway, now is there? 

But think how smart I will seem when I am FINALLY moving there next February!


Tough love.

Today I am painfully aware . . . 

of the reason baby robins should not be raised in the dining room.  It is because the people living in the house may not have the stomach for it.

As you may recall, several weeks ago 2 robins built a nest on my dining room window ledge.  Then there were 4 perfectly blue eggs.  Then 4 perfectly ugly featherless things.  Fast forward a few weeks, and now there are 4 absolutely perfect miniature robins, fluffing their feathers and pretty much looking for handouts full-time with 4 constantly gaping beaks.

It's been a fairly dramatic illustration of the parent-child relationship.  Russ pretty much laughed every time he walked past them over the weekend.  Guess he's getting tired of paying for kids' car insurance.

But suddenly, today is graduation day! 

Time for the fledglings to . . . fledge!  For several days now, the babies have looked just about as ridiculous trying to fit in that nest as a bunch of 30-somethings would look living in their parents'  basement.  This morning, they were quite literally taking turns standing on top of one another, because there was no longer enough room for them to be side by side.

I was excited!  
They've made it this far!  BUT --

How to get them to leave?  A tricky question, and obviously one best left to the experts, of which I am not one.

The parents, who have been feeding the birds tag-team and non-stop for nearly two weeks, have stopped feeding them today.  I've seen the father plunk himself down somewhat disgustedly several times near the nest and on the ground under it, but so far he is turning a deaf ear to his babies' cries of hunger.  AND IT IS KILLING ME.

Personally, I would like to set the dining room table with some delicious fruit, nuts, and yes, if I have to, worms -- and invite them in for tea before they leave.

He'd like them to just get on with the business of becoming robins.

This afternoon, one has made its way out onto the ledge and is standing there looking wistful and like it truly regrets its first life decision.  It would like nothing more than to climb back in.  (I don't know if it is male or female, but I am calling it Hannah.)

The others seem to be watching to see what will happen next before they do anything rash.  For one thing, with the first one out, the nest is a little roomier than it was.  But surely they are all getting very, very hungry.

One problem is that they are shaded from the world by a curtain of ivy, so to them it looks much easier to step in through my window than to find a way out through the leaves.  They keep pressing themselves up against the glass, looking at me hopefully for signs of something to eat.

I've been mesmerized all day.  Can't stand to watch, can't bear to look away for fear I might miss the leap.  If I can't feed them myself, then flicking them off the ledge with my finger seems like the second best option.  Or just telling the parents to please EXPLAIN the situation to them a bit more clearly.  Help them understand that this is really in their best interest. Take the edge off their fear.  And maybe mine.

Perhaps if I were sure that SOMEONE knew what they were doing, I'd feel a bit more at ease about the whole thing.



A Cautionary Tale.

Today's story is of a more...ahem....personal nature than is our usual fare,

including intimate details, and may be uncomfortable or not well-suited to the more sensitive among us....so proceed with caution, Dear Reader.

Still with me?

Okay, here we go...

I went into the bathroom
-- now, if you can't get past the opening line, here's your chance to bail out -- 

for a routine visit -- just doing the kind of thing girls sometimes do in the bathroom (if you are a boy, use your imagination) without a care in the world. Thinking about how I needed to do some deadheading on the potted flowers on the front porch, actually....

When suddenly, and as a matter of course, I happened to glance down.

Now boys, let me stop here and explain that girls are accustomed to the ins and outs of dealing with foreign objects in personal areas, and think nothing of finding, for instance, a string hanging there, because they probably placed it there themselves with good reason and are in fact in the bathroom performing a managerial task related to it in some way...but I digress...

Anyway, in this instance I glanced down and, adjacent to the expected string....a thread...



The scene got a little noisy and dramatic at that point, especially for a routine bathroom visit, so I will spare you any further details, but if you have been a Small Works reader for any time at all you probably know how I feel about spiders.  Just about the last thing I'd want....dangling from my...whatever.

A twisted nightmare version of Little Miss Muffet in which the spider has somehow taken up permanent residence in her tuffet AND believes he is entitled to have unlimited access to her curds and whey...

It raises several questions, of course -- I wanted to know:

a) how it got there
b) how long it had been there, and
c) whether it was actually making any kind of future plans whatsoever....I shudder to think.

Hannah suggested the new Swiffer 360 duster, which she says they claim can fit just about anywhere.

It all reminded me of the Dr. House episode in which they finally figure out that a tick has crawled into a girl's thingamajig and bitten her and as a result she is dying from an array of bizarre and horrifying symptoms.  (So will someone please keep an eye on me . . . ?)

I don't know what the moral of the story is, 
I only know I wish it didn't involve ME. 

And I guess it's now become painfully obvious that I've been living alone for too long -- actually DEVELOPING COBWEBS and not just in a metaphorical sense.

We're talking about actual cobwebs, people.  With tenants.

Someone buy my house, please.


All wet.

Plans, plans, plans.... 

say what you want about them.  They are usually pretty useless.  The act of planning has value, but the plans themselves?  Often of much less importance in the end.  Because when it comes to most things, we're just not really in charge.

For instance, Minnesotans were planning on a hot, dry summer. The weather people thought so -- all signs pointed to it.  And yet late spring has broken all kinds of rain records.  In fact, a zoo up north got so much rain overnight, the seals and a polar bear planned their escape and swam away.

True story (and actually a sad one -- 11 animals died).  Anyway, our much talked-about plans for coping with the sure and dreaded drought?  All wet.

Right now my own life is also failing miserably to conform to my plans.  I am supposed to be dealing with moving vans and whatnot....instead, I am what?  Not.

I am twiddling.  My thumbs, my toes, my brain, anything that can be twiddled.
Spinning my wheels,
cooling my heels --
would be watching paint dry, but the paint dried about 6 weeks ago, so even the entertainment value of that exercise has now evaporated.

At least we now have a definitive answer to the question of home vs. off-site studio.  Off-site wins!  If you want to keep working while Ms. Fate is throwing water on your plans and having a good chuckle about it.  So I'm making note of that, for future reference.

One good thing that my current lack-of-a-life is affording me, however, is time to do things like read, and see movies! 

I've always been a huge fan of YA -- never stopped reading books for Y after I became an A, actually.  It's a guilty pleasure, only I don't always feel guilty about it because thank goodness there's a whole lot of very worthwhile literature for young people, and it seems to be on the increase.

Two of my recent favorites:

Both sophisticated, quirky and interesting.  Both spunky, charming and romantic.  Both written by men, which I found to be particularly intriguing --

teenage love stories written by men?
Fascinating and a breath of fresh air.

About time, I say.

One is obviously (and heavily!) illustrated by Maira Kalman -- a definite plus!

I'd highly recommend both, if you're looking for breezy summer reading that will make you laugh and smile and sigh a bit.

And speaking of smiling and sighing...

Another kiddie love story by a man --
a movie that I am completely smitten with:

Even if you're not busy raising time-wasting to an art form (as I am) you should take a little time out to see this magical movie!  Take the kids!  Or better yet, leave them home!  It is pure delight.  And yes, I admit I love Wes Anderson so I was biased from the moment I bought the ticket.  But still . . . Were you ever a kid?  If so, see the movie.

And I'd love to know what you're reading!  Please share! Because I have a feeling I'm going to have a little more time to kill, before all is said and done...

Yikes! June 20 already?!
Well then . . . Happy Summer!


Sunday Scribble.

Puddle, 1952, M. C. Escher

Wish You Were Here

it rained that day, we woke
to find morning dark gray
sky rumpled as the bed
windows slick-streaked
but okay since we were here
together, not much to do just
be, the rain tapping its toes
to our forever song, punctuation
marking memories -- now
there are footprints, reminders
tracked across my thoughts
my mind a puddle, our picture
a rippled postcard sent to show
exactly where we were 
and how, that day it rained 

-- smh

Thanks to M. C. Escher, 
and Tess at
for the prompt -- 

click over for a few good reads
and then leave an idea of your own . . .


When we try 
to pick out anything by itself, 
we find it hitched 
to everything else in the universe.

-- John Muir

Chelsea turned me on to this quote while we were having lunch today, and I just loved it! 

It offers plenty of food for thought . . . 
so many idea paths to pursue, 
from physics to spirituality to ecology 
and on and on.  

What would be nice to know is, are the things I'm doing today impacting everyone and everything else to which I am hitched?  And if so, how?

Sort of the ultimate good question!  

And an interesting one to consider, especially at a time when I am existing in a life fermata of sorts:  occupied daily by the mindless, big-picture insignificance of things like keeping my house clean for showings, but also considering many options for reinventing my course when my journey resumes.

I should take it as a welcome pause.  They don't come often in life.  And I'll be forced to leap soon enough. But I do so love it when I hear something or read something or see something that gets my attention and causes me to look around at where I am and see it in a new light.

Thanks, Chelsea and John Muir, for the bit of Wednesday wisdom.  Please feel free to come up with something good for Thursday as well!  Because I can use all the help I can get.


And now, a brief moment in which we brag...and also catch our breath.

Well, I did it. 

And it was just about as much fun as taking a dose of medicine every day -- the kind you have to plug your nose to swallow.  

Although I would have preferred Ovaltine, 
unfortunately my doctor prescribed hard work.  Ick.

But when things are really hard, that's when we can assume they must be good for us, right? And I think it was.  (Especially now that it's in the rear-view mirror.)

When I set out to do a drawing every day 
(you can see them all here) . . .

I thought that surely by the end of the year, I would no longer be terrified of drawing.  Because, for one thing, I thought I would get better at it.  Not so.  I don't really think any progress was made in either of those areas.  Still a draw-o-phobe, still drawing-impaired.  Hmmmm.

Where I did make progress is in my inking skills.  And I learned a few things about my own ability/inability to draw.  For one thing, I can almost always improve a drawing by inking it.  Because when I can see where the line shouldn't go (the one I drew 13 times with the pencil that still looks wonky) I can, for some reason, often fix it in one swoop with the pen.

And I am really just an illustrator of ideas.  Observational drawing holds no interest at all for me.  I know . . . I should probably be sentenced to an additional year.

Maira Kalman's job is pretty safe for now.  I have learned that my dreams of creating a blog like hers would still involve far too much drawing for me.  But self-knowledge is valuable, right?

Several people have asked me what I'm going to do for my next challenge.  Right now I'm pretty busy being glad I don't have to smack my forehead at 10:30 every night and say, "DANG IT.  I STILL HAVE TO DO A DRAWING."  Soon I'm sure this phase will pass, and I'll be thinking about that question myself.  And I'm pretty sure it's going to involve writing.  But we'll see.
Mostly, I hope that next time 
a few of you will come along!  

I'd love to hear about YOUR 365 Creativity Challenge.  Having just successfully completed my second, I'm pretty sold on the value of setting your mind to do something that requires you to flip that switch, if only for a moment every day.  Even when it's REALLY, REALLY HARD AND YOU JUST DON'T WANT TO DO IT.

(...and I don't have to today!  Because I'm done!  At least for a minute! Yahoo.)  

Totally worth it, btw.  
In case you're confused about that.

(Small Works will return next Wednesday, June 13 -- going to take another little jaunt this weekend through Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah en-route to Phoenix in order to get a vehicle out there.  Jealous?  Yeah, I know.)


Yup. She's still here.

It's a big house for just one little person.

I didn't think I would be living here alone for very long, but the way things are looking, I may well be lighting my sparklers in Minnesota.  I only hope I don't see the kiddies going back to school here too!  And let's not even talk about the possibility of raking the same leaves as last year . . .

In addition to being too big, it's pretty boring here, too.

White bread indeed.

Is boredom anything less 
than the sense of one's faculties slowly dying?

-- Arthur Helps

My own fault, of course.

Although being without the freedom to make a mess is a bit of an inhibitor.  Yesterday my realtor hosted a broker's open house and the only improvement suggested (by another agent) was that we might "thin out the hobby room downstairs." 

There are so many things I hated about that sentence, it's hard to choose just one.


To cope, today I had lunch with my copy of American Craft Magazine, just to reassure myself that someone, somewhere was doing something worthwhile.  And I found a quote I loved from a 93 year old enamel artist.  She said this:

With a limited time to live, 
there's a decision to make every day -- 
what to spend it on, what to create.

-- June Schwarcz

Aha!  The trick is to not wait until one is 93 to come to that important realization!  After all, we all have a limited time to live.  EVEN WHEN IT SEEMS WE MIGHT BE HERE IN THIS HOUSE FOREVER....but I digress.

So here's a word of advice from 
everyone's good friend, Shel Silverstein . . . 


Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.

Thanks, Uncle Shel! And I'm going to try to save my ebbing faculties by doing just that...if I can think of something I can do without messing up my desk.  Maybe that dancing in the kitchen thing......?

Happy what's-left-of-Wednesday!


A tale of two.......birdies.

I've been spending some time on airplanes lately,
and therefore flying through my summer reading list at an alarming rate.  This past weekend I read a book I've been wanting to read for several months, by one of my all-time favorite authors, Anne Lamott.

There's something about Anne's brand of spirituality that hits the mark for me.  She feels familiar.  She thinks my thoughts and commits them to paper so I can read them, nod my head and say, "that's it!"  And feel a little less wacky, or out-in-left-field, or like a crazy person.

This book was no exception.  If it's your first foray into Anne's world, it isn't where I would start, but for someone who has already found herself at home among her words, it's a wonderful new room through which to wander.

One little aside in the book addressed a question I have wondered myself about Anne's work (and my own):   

What is it about me and birds? 

She said she often gets asked this question by interviewers, and the thing I liked most about her reply was that I didn't feel like she really had a perfectly pat answer (me too).  She said this:

"There are birds throughout every book I've written.  My father was an avid bird-watcher.  He did not believe in God or read the Bible, but he believed in birds and read all of Audubon.  I grew up believing that birds were of supreme value and beauty.  That if you studied and observed them, you could learn a great deal about life.

I said in another book that if birdsong were the only proof of a bigger, invisible reality, that would be enough for me.

What's so great about birds, besides their beauty, is that they are very different from us - we are so earthbound and they are so free -- and yet so similar, especially to our children in their vulnerability.  The small ones you might crush, and the big ones soar like little gods, pelicans skimming the surf, eagles and hawks as high in the sky as stars.  Big ones might peck your eyes out or dive-bomb you.  They're such alien creatures, so pretty, yet they spring from dinosaurs.  And you can never look a bird in the eyes -- their eyes are on either side of their heads, and they are so quizzical.  They have to be -- they are prey, and yet so hungry, like teenagers; like us."

Yeah.  What she said.

What it is about me and birds today specifically, is this: 

 When I returned from my trip last week, it was immediately apparent that a bird had been busy building a nest on the ledge outside my dining room window -- dangerously low to the ground, but perfectly shaded by a curtain of ivy.  It was almost as if she put herself under glass specifically for my observation and appreciation.

She was not very appreciative of my coming home, however, nor of my constant vacuuming.  She was gone the next morning, and did not come back all day.  I feared I had driven her away.  Then magically, the next day an egg appeared in the nest.  Although still no bird.  It was quite cold, and I thought surely she had given up or been a victim of foul play.

And then the next day, there she was -- sitting as if she'd been there all along and staring me down with one eye every time I went past the window.  And then there were two....no, three....no, make that FOUR perfectly lovely blue eggs in the nest with her.

All I can do is sigh.  And apologize for the noisy vacuum.  And be glad Cooper is on an extended vacation, because that windowsill is his favorite chin-prop for watching the world go by.  And hope she has followed her motherly instincts to a good place, and is going to have a little success to show for her ever vigilant eye, her patient sitting, her perfect nest-building.

All that gathering, and arranging, and rearranging, and fluffing until it was just right...made me tired to watch. And felt a little familiar.

Bird tale number two, however, 
had not such a happy ending . . .

While bird number one was busy creating a little bit of heaven outside my dining room, bird number two was becoming a victim of FOWL PLAY outside my kitchen window.  I found her lying dead on the deck, in a pool of feathers and blood, and all I can imagine is that my window got in the way of her communion with the glorious morning and she went down hard. Broke her neck and her beak, and who knows what else.  I actually shed a little tear -- partly because I'm kind of mentally unbalanced right now, but also because I've been so positively rapt in my enjoyment of momma bird.  It seemed like a terrible and tragic waste on a sunny morning in early June.

And I DID NOT WANT TO BE THE ONE TO HAVE TO PROVIDE A BURIAL.  I'm a little squeamish about dead things.  My realtor actually offered to come do it for me, which made me realize how completely ridiculous that would be, and instead I took a deep breath and did it myself.  There's still a small dark spot on the deck, however, and until a good rainstorm comes to take it, I'm going to see it and remember. And all I can do is sigh.

So I guess that's all I would add to Anne's words about what it is with her and birds.  That for some reason, birds make me want to sigh.  And smile. And sometimes shed a tear. And listen. And watch. And always, always wonder.

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