Posts Tagged ‘on being creative’

The Moving Pen

.art journal pages   This past while I’ve been sketching a lot. Not great sketches. Not horrible ones either. Just sketches of what I’m seeing. The one thing it has taught me, is to really see what I’m looking at. To take a moment or two and notice the shadows. See the angle of the curves, and ask myself how deep are the creases that I see.

An added bonus, because I love to write (okay, babble) is now I can do both. The words I use to fill around or over the sketches remind me of what I was thinking,  smelling, or hearing, as I sketched and colored.

It’s so freaking satisfying!

I’ve accepted that I suck at automobiles, faces and animals but I know I’ll get there one day. Right now I am enjoying the sketching telephone wires, corners of buildings, the backside (as in backs not butts) of people. When I feel good at those I’ll practice on trees, water and the dreaded face. . .

I’ve been gathering bits of art supplies for a while now (translate that into years).  For years I swore by acrylics and pencils. Until I met and understood pens in art. And, within the last year or so I’ve been seduced by watercolors. How they can appear fragile yet be so strong. How they seem to carry their own brilliance inside of themselves.

Watercoloring has allowed me to make mistakes and be okay about it. And best of all, watercolor loves sketch work. And I love my pens!

What a joy!

I adore my aqua brushes. Maybe not so much the bottom three which came as a cheap trio. I’ve lost all three caps because they would not stay on (either end). Peckerheads!



Love this Ninja roll case for my watercolor (such fun to use) pencil crayons. I’ve just discovered Derwent’s Graphitint Watercolor pencils. OMG – are they cool or what? (The answer is YES)



Last Christmas Man-Wonder bought me a tin of watercolor crayons. They are as much fun to use now as wax crayons were when I was young . . .


. . . only I don’t eat them anymore.


And finally I found just the right bag. The ‘Solo’ brand computer bag from Staples works like a hot damn for packing it all in nice and tidy.



This bag works not only for me. Man-Wonder (the fisherman) took a shine to it too—works like a hot damn for him too!

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Does that make us a duo on our Solos?



People’s opinions, travelling books and pissy-hissy fits

First off, I ran across this blog posting and it knocked me back, and continues to knock me back, because I keep re-reading it. Here’s the link

Such wise thinking!

The other thing I’ve been doing is drooling (not from heat sleeping this time). No, this drooling is over the Midori Traveler’s Notebooks.


I want one. I really, really would like to have one. Not that I need one. Or that I could justify the cost of one.

I just want to have one.

So color my creative side excited when I received the latest blog from Debbie-Anne Parent’s Ephemera’s Vintage Garden site and she has put up a video on how to make your own version of the notebook. Not only that but she directs the viewer towards another video with even more detail.

After watching both videos I screwed up the courage to dismantle (carefully rip apart) a cool little leather book full of thin blank pagers which has been sitting on my shelf unused for far too long.

I made three signatures (sections of pages) for my ‘travelling notebook’ ; one of drawing pages, one of writing pages and one of graph pages. Each signature has 48 usable pages. The fourth section I added was a daily planner I found to fit the 6″ x 4″ notebook.

 Behind all the signatures I slipped in a back and front pocket page to hold things like receipts and cards. I also included a pen holder (using wide elastic and double-sided tape for the first time so the verdict is still out on that puppy!). I added an elastic bookmark (with button attached as a nod to my sewing). To keep the book closed I’ve attached a loop of round elastic cord.

 It’s a rough little book inside, but not bad for the first one. And I tried to upload some pictures of my leather baby but my dinkish tool aka my computer, is behaving rather badly at the moment.

  It has decided to not recognize any of my USB devices today. Yesterday  pop-up window were quick to inform me that it couldn’t connect to my printer  as I watched my items print out. And quite often it likes to tell me that its sound devices aren’t working—usually when I’m listening to something.

Do I think my system is heading for a crash? I’d like to help it along at times. I truly would. But maybe it’s time I did the mature, adultish  thing and take it in for a checkup. . . and try to answer their questions without sounding like someone who should never, ever be allowed near a piece of electronics.

Sometimes I hate being a grown up. Throwing a tantrum was so much easier.


Wanting less is a better blessing than having more – Mary Ellen Edmunds. (Is there a better truth anywhere?)

Time to fess up on what I’ve been reading lately (other than the usual two dozen whodunits):

  • This article from Joshua Becker over at  on overcoming consumerism. I’d curl my lip and sneer at those mindless souls mentioned in the article but since I’m still one of them I won’t. I’ll just kindly shake my head in pity instead. In the article he mentions these (and more) interesting facts about North American shopping habits:
    • We are faced with close to 5000 advertisements a day. Corporations spend $50 billion every year on television advertisements. (Can you imagine if that kind of money went into helping those in need instead?)
    • 93% of teenage girls rank shopping as their favorite pastime. (It brings to mind the old saying about lemmings mindlessly following one another over a cliff edge.)
    • Shopping malls outnumber high schools. (Imagine if there was a school every few miles down the road —wouldn’t we all be the wiser for it?)

Comparison is the thief of joy – Theodore Roosevelt. (Switch the word comparison to mindless consumerism—still reads true.)

For me reading Leo Babauta’s words are like spotting the real gems in a basket overflowing with costume jewelry. He is wisdom personified and this piece is about procrastinating and how he overcame it. As usual Leo cuts out much of the mind-clatter and lays the steps out in a simple easy manner to follow.

(I plan to give it a try later.)

  • I’m also rereading a book I wish I could give a copy of to everyone —Wisdom of the Ages by Wayne W. Dyer. It’s one of those ones where you read a little, think a lot, read a little, think a . . .

Good stuff!

  • And then there’s this little book called  Daily Rituals – How Artists work by Mason Currey. Cripes, I’m only five artists into the book and I’m beginning to sense a madness theme.

The artist in my soul loves it!


You can only lose what you cling to—Buddha (another smart cookie)

PB Land versus La-La Land

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I still have lots of PBs arriving almost daily at the library. I’m closing in on the read a hundred books advice. But I don’t think I’ll stop once I hit it. They are simply too much fun to read

And, Eureka! I have finally seen, felt and come to understand the difference between PBs (picture books) and PSBs (picture story books). One lesson learned, six-five gazillion more to go.

Boy, am I on a roll or what?

And, after re-reading the article on how to create a PB/PBS dummy book, I created one; even stitched the thirty-two folded blank pages together like a real (ugly) book.

The funny thing is I made the dummy book about a week ago but couldn’t bring myself to put my words in it. I was afraid to try my story on the pages. What if it didn’t fit? What if it stunk? What if I discovered I’d been wasting my time thinking I could write a PSB?

Yeah, the monkey mind was having a picnic upstairs, and isn’t it funny how one can wander around in la-la land without clueing in? I guess that’s why they call it la-la land eh?

Two days ago, while wasting time playing a game of spider solitaire on the computer my eyes drifted to the cork board behind the monitor and locked onto a small sticky note with the words, How’s it working for ya written on it.

It wasn’t.

DING. LightbulbThumbsUp-article

I suddenly realized what I’d been doing.



And that’s when I took ownership of the ‘suck it up’ mentality and attacked my story with a pair of scissors and cut/paste lust in my heart.

Too, too freaking cool—It actually feels like a real PSB now and not just a story on paper (okay, it still is just a story on paper ) but suddenly I am visualizing the pictures between the sentences and those pictures are showing me where more sparkle is needed and where I need to dim the switch a tad. It’s amazing!

Which leads me to a brand new problem. I know I recently said I was leaving the illustrating to the professionals—but oh my lord—I so want to draw the pictures in my head. I can almost taste them I want to do it so bad.

At least that’s what the right side of my brain is saying. The left side is telling me that I need to get more of my work out again quickly and to forget what the other half is saying.

So who do I believe? Me here or me there?

DUCK—here comes another AHA moment. . .


I picked up a book called The Map by Colette Baron-Reid. So far I’ve made it through the list of contents (catching the interest for sure), a poem called harbour by Nancy Levin (love it, for it speaks the truth), the Forward by Denise Linn (a head-nodder for sure), the preface (amazing how Colette has survived her life—period) and finally, have read the first lines of the Introduction – Your enchanted map (where I zoned out as she requests and where I had one of those aha moments while doing so). And that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.

In those lines Colette asks the question Where are you right now?

Then she tells you to Close your eyes and describe where you feel you are. Colette says this inner landscape bears no resemblance to where you are actually located in time and space.

So okay—I close my eyes and feel it out.

I’m in a waiting room. It’s a gray room. Not a yucky heavy gray; the walls, the chairs, the floor—all different shades of gray. There are many chairs in this waiting room. They are in a U shape and I’m stuck in a chair down at the end. The room feels oddly familiar yet I do feel anxious, impatient. Mostly I’m alone, but sometimes other chairs are filled by shadowy forms. This annoys me. I can’t react to them because they aren’t really there. They’re only sort of there. They irritate me with their strange behaviours yet I can’t do anything. I realize they’re figments of my mind. I want them to take off and leave me alone. Sometimes the waiting room empties out and I breathe a sigh of relief.


Yet that’s not even the aha moment. Of course I feel tied down. Of course I’m stuck in a waiting mode. No big OMG there. That’s the stage of life I’m in right now with Mom’s dementia. The shadowy figures? I think they are the parts of me I don’t like to acknowledge.Sometimes, when I’m tired I act in ways I don’t want to admit are part of me. Sometimes, when my brain is rested they go away and I feel peaceful.  Not too tough to figure out.

No, the aha moment was when I noticed this stage across from me in room of grays. Then I realize the shows playing are snips from my life. Spits and jerks of it. And that’s the AHA reached out and pinged the back of my head.

Most of my life has been spent in that waiting room. Waiting for the next whatever. So focused on what may happen I let what is happening slip by unnoticed. Wishing it away. I’ve been stuck, in that damn chair, in that damn  waiting room instead of living all those moments of my life.


I wonder what the rest of the book is going to bring?

Keeping Things Dry


Water has been on my brain lately. No, I don’t think it’s because of our wet winter. I think it’s more the fact that we survived it and now summer is coming. Which means our water bills will shoot crazy-high again. Which means the coming of some deep discussions between Man-Wonder and myself since he’s King of his Let me get my excessive six-foot watering wand so I can over-water you world, and I’m Queen of my Anyone else wants more water it’s going be off with your pretty little heads world.

Yeah, it can get ugly round here when the sun drops in for summer vacation.

I heard somewhere that Canadians are awful when it comes to water consumption so I went online to find out more. Man, did I come across a boat-load of interesting facts about water usage in North American. Seems we North Americans tend to better resemble water hogs when compared to other populations in the world. People in the US use an average of 575 L (litres) per person per day. Canadians run a close second with our average of  360 L per person per day.

Shame on all of us.

When I read how a five-minute shower uses about 100 L  of water compared to the 50 L used in a bath, and knowing how Man-Wonder and I are shower-heads,  I decided to make showers my starting point for becoming less water-hoggish.

However, knowing how I can’t be trusted to stick to plans I plan, I needed a way to enforce myself and that took some serious thinking. But I did it—I came up with a slightly complicated but do-able plan.

First off, understanding how often old ladies need to pee was a key factor. I knew I’d have to wait till that crucial time mid-morning when Mom has returned from her five hundredth bathroom trip and tea time. With Mom settled in her chair, and with the kettle beginning to heat up, it’s downstairs to fill the washing machine and sort out a load. Once the machine is loaded and in full swish-mode it’s back upstairs to make and deliver the tea to Mom. Now—this leaves me with a delicate window of time between Mom’s next trip down the hall and the washing machine’s water exchanges.

I strip, scrub, rinse, fluff and dress. Less than five minutes, undress-to-redress stage.

Then it’s back downstairs to hang up the laundry, hustle back upstairs again to check out the tea party and . . .

I’m ready for another shower.

I wonder if I went outside and tried to look like a bush in Man-Wonder’s world . . . would he hose me down?

Might be the next step in water conservation.

Now That’s a Character!

I have to face facts – I may never finish my chapter book.

There—I’ve said it out loud.

Oh, I have the story. The problem lies with the characters in my story. They might be a tad over-developed. (And not the hormonal big-stuff either).

No, I mean these characters are so well-rounded they won’t shut up and they will not leave things alone. They keep chucking up new bits of information. Sometimes they take a nice, clean, simple scene and make such a kerfuffle it ends up looking like an unmade bed.

And there really must be a bit of goober in me. Each time I listen to them, every time I’ve finish the rewrite I think – yeah, they were right, it is better. And as I hit that last period all I can think is—thank god it’s done.

Then, BAM, they strike again, and I’m forced to rewrite a scene, or scenes, or the whole stinking chapter again. I know I have some issues with self-control, but man-oh-man, these characters are often major pains-in-the-butt.

I’m not saying I don’t have any choice. There’s always a choice. Create flat characters with personalities similar to grass in winter. Or let your characters grow until they are as realistic as anyone you know; which means you will be listening to them.

Which poses the question — how do I ever finish a story when the characters won’t stop talking and changing things around?

Do I have to resort to threats?

And if I do that,  if I piss my characters off — can they make my head explode?

Shedding the old me

Lately I’ve been wallowing in a truck-full of whodunits (especially those in Kerry Greenwood’s two series). In between I’ve wandered through a herd of non-fictions about other people living their lives, good and not so good.

Reading has always been my preferred method of escapism. Whenever I wake up to the fact that I’m reading till my eyes feel like they are shooting blood, I know I need to look inside the book of me—just for a bit.

And that’s where I’ve been recently.

I learned I’ve been escaping from my life again. Mostly because as Mom’s health and life declines my world grows tighter. And I find I’m resenting the things that don’t fill me with passion. Too often I begin one long-loved craft or another only to realize I’m rushing through it; impatient to be finished.

So — what is the point?

The point is admitting I’ve changed. I no longer want to continue doing what I’ve done for so many years. The very tightness I’m finding so strangling is teaching me about waste. I’m finished with time-wasters. They are going, going. What’s left won’t be much, but it will be important.

It’s been uncomfortable — this emptying of who I figured I was. But, if I’m going to be honest, the hardest part was owning up to how much money I’ve been wasting over hunting for something to distract me. It’s kept me hanging onto way too much and way too long. There there’s admitting to the cost of mentally hanging onto the stuff. After the pain of disconnection came the joy.  As box after box, after box of things left, I found room to breathe. I found relief. And I know for sure what’s important now.

Writing and drawing.

I’m not willing to give them up. Everything else is history.

Even if I never grow to excellence within those fields I will be excellent doing them.

And all it took was shining a light over the dark spots. Huh. Who knew?

The Bull in the Gem Shop story

Let me tell you a story.

One upon a time there was a small shop of gems.  This shop didn’t look like much unless you peered through the window and saw how every counter was spilling over with sparkly gemstones; in every shape, size and variety.

Each day close to midday, the sun would stream through the window to shimmy from stone to stone until the whole shop twinkled like a fractured rainbow.

But for all its beauty the caretakers of this shop were miserable. Fear made themselves sick with worry. They worried about thieves and then Fear made them worry about damage to the stones from the hot sun. Fear sat like large boulders on their shoulders until they came up with a plan. They would carefully enclose each gem in a thin membrane of mud.

It worked. It not only protected the stones from the sun, it made them unappealing to possible thieves. But soon enough they realized it was also keeping good customers away too. This made the caretakers unhappy again.

So they came up with a new plan and made great efforts to convince people that the mud crust made the gems more valuable. They said since it cost more money and took more time to make the membranes, how could the gems be anything but more valuable. Eventually the people came to believe them and the heaviest of the stones became the most valuable.

The caretakers were overjoyed with their ruse. And with nothing to worry about Greed found its way into their heads. Greed told them that more mud upon each stone meant more money. So they piled the mud on and grew wealthier. Eventually they began to leave gems out of some of the mud balls.

And Greed pushed them to sell more so they took to selling their mud-crusted non-gems at a local outdoor market near the edge of town as well as in their shop.

One day Truth, out riding the world on his bull, happened by.  He heard them hawking their mud balls as things of great value and it made him sad to see such silliness. Truth urged his bull past the nonsense and into the  town. Just as they sauntered past the gem shop one lone sliver of sunlight reached through a crack in a mud-crusted gem in the window. It hit the gem  inside and ricocheted a flash of brilliance that all but bounced Truth off his bull.

Within a heartbeat, Truth, being Truth, realized what was being done and why. But, also being Truth, he was appalled at the falsehood and, in a fit of great hissy, sent his bull barreling into the shop.

Bull, in his massive magnificence, wreaked havoc throughout until once more the entire shop sparkled in true beauty from a sea of dazzling gemstones resting over a bed of broken muddy lumps.

Moral of the story – Truth will always find itself through any false pretense and keep the bull where it belongs.

Power Tools and Woodly Goods.

Photo by Phil Lennstrom (big brother)

On our back deck the little chickadees, nuthatches, finches and pine siskins put on a good show with their birdy dances and super-sonic flits round the bird feeder. And because Mom enjoys watching them I set up a feeder outside the living room window, by our front door, so she could sit in comfort and enjoy their antics.

In typical (think low-class) fashion, there was a black garbage bin with a  small green patio table stuffed into the top of it  on which sat a paper plate of bird seed.  Which I must say —worked just fine. Until it rained. It seems the wee birds aren’t fussy about diving into murky rainwater for their meals.

I gave it a week, hoping hubby would offer to build a real feeder before I caved and figured I’d have to do the damn project. With his how-to-make-a-bird-feeder book in hand I headed downstairs to his domain—the basement.

My first step was the wood hunt and I ended up with a goodly pile of woodsy stuff. Boards, many bits of wood, an entire bucket of assorted dowellings and an armful of sticks—what a terrific find!

On top of my wood pile went a drill, screws that looked not-to-big and not-to-small, hammer, Gorilla Glue (my favorite stuff for just about everything) and skill-saw (don’t you just wonder about that name?). I mean, what if someone without any skill uses it. Does it become a stupid-saw?)

I was pleased with my gatherings; at least until I realized I’d lost the book!  After much cursing, followed by explainations for the cursing yelled up the stairs since we don’t have a door at the bottom of the stairs, I decided to just wing it.

I thought I was doing fine but half way through dear hubby worms his nose in; mainly since I was mucking with his power tools which makes him nervous. And of course nothing goes wrong until he tells me what could go wrong and then it’s snap and ouch, damn and ouch, which forces him to take over with one of those smuggy I told you so male faces.

So how did the feeder turn out? Let’s just call it beautifully practical since I wasn’t being too-too cautious with my measurements or gluing or even attempting to match all the difference types of wood. And Randy plans on using the back door until spring. That’s when the feeder won’t be needed and he can burn it out of existence.

Is there a word for male diva?

Excuse me while I go wash the sawdust out of my hair…

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