What If…

What If

Those are the words of imagination. Of exploration, of conquering new worlds. Of trying a new style of clothing, car, or food.

What If

I suffer from a lot of What If. None of it destructive, mind you, although it does hit me when I’m driving to and from work a lot (it’s on an empty back road so don’t worry…I still pay attention..). What if I drove into the middle of that cornfield? What if I turned around and drove straight to the airport and bought a ticket to San Antonio? What if I looked up into the evening sky and saw a dragon flying across the horizon?

What If can be fun. They can be dangerous. 

But they also can be illuminating.

What If takes you out of your comfort zone. Out of your self-conscious ego and self-damaging thoughts. It takes you to worlds where hobbits talk with faeries and American spies get thrown into Russian prisons. It makes apples purple and skin scarlet.  

What If makes you think and daydream without getting hurt. What if there really was a zombie apocalypse? I mean what if zombies were trashing the city, town, closest to you? What would you do? Where would you go? What happens if zombies are everywhere? And you’re stuck in your house? How long would it take you to run out of food? Would you sacrifice your dog or cat so they would go away?

Or what if you were walking through the park on a summer evening and a gnome walked out of the bushes and stopped and looked at you on your path? Or if a faerie landed on your shoulder? I mean, really! What would you do? How would you react?

What If can obviously take you in dark places. What If you and your friend drove off the cliff like in Thelma and Louise? What if you drank a soda that turned out to be poison? What if you fell down the stairs and you weren’t near a phone and lived alone and no one ever came to visit you?

What Ifs are a creative person’s best friend. You can take funny, scary, wonderful thoughts and turn them into make believe. Like a painting. A painting of walking down the street of 1890’s Paris is all make believe. The painter never walked those streets, saw those streetlights, or said good evening to people walking past in hats and long dresses and suits.

But they did say…What If I were walking down the streets in 1890 Paris? What would I see? How would they be dressed? What would the stores look like? 

I  wrote two novels about What If. What If by some accident you woke up in 1880? You knew nothing about the times, the manners, the ambitions of the people you encounter. What would you do?

Keep those What Ifs going. Write them down, paint them, grow them. Let your imagination take you on a magic carpet ride.

Which leads to…what if there really was a magic carpet and you could sit and ride on it? Where would you go? Would it be windy? Could you fall off? Would you fly into birds and bugs and….

The Last Full Moon

Tonight is autumn’s final dance. The temperature here in Wisconsin is a balmy 55, the night is cloudy, the wind is making my windchimes dance the tarantella. It is a night for dreams, for wishes. The last full moon was rising at 5:48 p.m. It was to be a spectacular ending to an enchanting night. It was cloudy, but I was going to go to the back fence and watch it rise.

But I didn’t.

I hate when I don’t follow through on what I dream about. There were excuses, of course. It was very dark. It was very overcast. And I had to walk through this little path through my back woods. My property is half woods, half open fields. It’s all actually “fenced in”, but the fences are so far spaced it seems like its all free around me.

I can brush off most of the excuses as lame. The moonrise may be bright enough to burn through the clouds. I could use my phone as a flashlight. The one excuse I could not get over was walking through the woods. At night. In the dark.

I’ve written blogs before about this (some say irrational) fear of walking through the woods at night. My husband and boys are hunters and walk through strange woods all the time. And besides — this is my property! Not in the middle of nowhere — there are families on either side, barbed wire in the distance.

I know mother nature is with me. Faeries protect me. Elves watch over me.

Blah Blah Blah.

It’s still dark, you can’t see three feet in front of you, and I’m a short, wimpy granny. I’m not a match for deer, dog, or demon, or a wayward creep hiding by the back gate. My imagination takes me all over the place. You can imagine where it takes me when I’m by myself.

If I can imagine creepy crawlies and djinns and spirits in my stories, you can imagine what awaits in my own backyard. I envy those free spirits that walk the fields and valleys and watersides all alone, one with the Earth, the stars and the mysteries of life. I have to do all of that looking off the deck.

So I pass on the things that creep me out, especially when I’m all alone. I’ll wait until spring when the sun sets at 7 or 8 to watch the moon in all her glory. I will continue to read and write and use my imagination to its fullest.

For now it will be from my livingroom sofa.

PS  The moon’s not out. And it’s raining. I voiced all this angst for nothing.

Something Is Out There

20161210_215909I was watching TV the other evening. A horror flick. Or SF. Or both. No matter.

Predator. You know — the Sci Fi movie with Arnold and a bunch of special forces macho men. You know the story line — the alien who comes to Earth to hunt humans for sport.  Well, there was one scene closer to the beginning of the movie that made me pull out a camera and take a picture of the TV screen — a scene that flashed the words blog topic into my brain.

The men are walking through the jungle, in and out of clearings, when one of the soldiers stops. Just stops and looks ahead. At the trees, at the jungle. Silence. When asked what was up, Billy said there was something out there watching them. Something you couldn’t see.

That kind of terror gets to me much more than blood and guts.

The fear of the unknown.

Some people can sense something’s not right way before it hits you like a pie in the face. We all have intuition, but some just live with it turned on high, while others barely crack the surface.

Do you ever sense things that are — unnatural? Nebulous? Out of our sphere of reality?

I don’t care for the scientific explanations. I understand them, I agree with them. But that doesn’t stop me from wondering — what if something was watching us? Something invisible, fifth dimension-ish and all that?

I’ve seen dogs avoid places in the wild; some would rather pee on themselves than check out some particular place. I’ve heard stories of birds avoiding certain trees and wild animals refusing to walk through certain areas.

It’s like seeing something out of the corner of your eye. If you turn and focus, the thing is gone. But for that fleeting moment you swear there is someone there. It is hearing songs on the wind when everyone else hears a lawn mower. Or seeing a glow in the woods that everyone else says are lightning bugs.

I know that none of these abnormalities exist — at least not on a scientific level. The guy I dated 40 years ago dashed a lot of my airy faerie ideas out of my head when he insisted science is much more fascinating than imagination.

But through the years I’ve regained some of my fascination with the “unknown.” I love to entertain the impossible. The improbable. The ridiculous. For within those worlds lies even more remarkable truths. At least for the person experiencing them.

I have never seen the clear, wavy distortions of a Predator before they become visible. I’ve never seen a unicorn drinking from a stream or a faerie dancing through the night.

Or have I?

We all see things that aren’t there. As we get older and memories fade, what we think we remember isn’t necessarily what happened. The conversations change, the situations change — we rework the past to fit our current psyche. So what I thought my father said before he died might not have been what he really said. The punchline of an old movie might not be the quote I spout out to friends and family.

To be honest, I am spooked by things I don’t understand. I don’t like walking through the woods in the dark, or driving down unfamiliar deserted roads at night, or playing Mary Worth in the mirror. Whether it’s an overactive imagination or the true sensing of something beyond reality, I prefer to deal with the unknown my own way.

Avoidance.

I figure don’t tempt the gods.

Quotes About Dreams

stock-photo_george-redhawkOctober is for Dreams

 

With the growth of social media, people are throwing out inspirational and tell-tale quotes left and right. So in honor of October, the month of Dreams, I have gathered some wonderful ditties you can post away whenever you are in need of something deep, warm, and mystical to say.

 

Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. ~ Oscar Wilde

I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now? ~John Lennon

It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream. ~ Edgar Alan Poe

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. ~ T.E.  Lawrence

A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars. ~ Victor Hugo

I’ve dreamed a lot. I’m tired now from dreaming but not tired of dreaming. No one tires of dreaming, because to dream is to forget, and forgetting does not weigh on us, it is a dreamless sleep throughout which we remain awake. In dreams I have achieved everything. ~ Fernando Pessoa

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together. ~ Jack Kerouac

The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don’t know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened. ~ James Arthur Baldwin

All men whilst they are awake are in one common world: but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own. ~ Plutarch

Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy. ~ Sigmund Freud

Deaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare. ~ H.F. Hedge

Dreams are more real than reality itself, they’re closer to the self. ~ Gao Xingjian

In sleep, fantasy takes the form of dreams. But in waking life, too, we continue to dream beneath the threshold of consciousness, especially when under the influence of repressed or other unconscious complexes. ~ Carl Jung

Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you. ~ Marsha Norman

A dream is a microscope through which we look at the hidden occurrences in our soul. ~ Erich Fromm

Dreams are the most curious asides and soliloquies of the soul. When a man recollects his dream, it is like meeting the ghost of himself. Dreams often surprise us into the strangest self-knowledge…. Dreaming is the truest confessional, and often the sharpest penance. ~ Alexander Smith

The answer is dreams. Dreaming on and on. Entering the world of dreams and never coming out. Living in dreams for the rest of time.” ~ Haruki Murakami

You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting. ~ J.M. Barrie

 

 I was born to catch dragons in their dens

And pick flowers

To tell tales and laugh away the morning

To drift and dream like a lazy stream

And walk barefoot across sunshine days. ~ James Kavanaugh

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Full Circle

A few weeks ago I fell in love with the atmosphere, art, and the Biltmore I found in North Carolina.

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My visit gave me a greater appreciation of the world of individuality, art, and wealth.

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Last weekend I wandered through the competition barn of a small county fair.

When I came upon the Art Show, I knew I had come full circle.

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I realized that this is where it all starts.

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This is where Jackson Pollock and John Singer Sargent began.

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Where Dali dabbled and Wiggans wandered.

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This is where Richard Morris Hunt found architecture and Katsushika Hokusai played with ink drawings.

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Where either because of a parent’s encouragement or despite lack of it, a creativity seed found fertility and grew.

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This is the uncharted land of creativity, of space and design and imagination.

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This…is Art.

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Pictures courtesy of Vilas County Fair, 2016

and CJA, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Magic

chinese-dragonI have a confession to make.

Sometimes in the evening, all by myself except the dogs and cats, doing a little research (not real writing), I’ve found myself checking into Netflix for background entertainment. Not so bad, really…

Except I’ve been watching these really strange, weird, truly localized movies from China and Japan. Period pieces especially, but fantasy ones too. Mojin: The Lost Legend. Journey to the West: The Legend of the Monkey King. Fearless. Seven Samarai.

And I have to tell you, it’s strange fun.

As one might expect, although there are universal themes that run through every movie, every culture has its own take on how to present those themes. Chinese and Japanese cinematography is every bit as amazing and imaginative as its partners in other countries. There may be a bit more martial arts  (at least there are in the movies I’ve chosen), and their approach to the walking dead and magic and monsters is unique to their audience. The music might sometimes be off (Jazz in Mojin?), but that might be to contrast modernism with ancient worlds. They do a lot of swearing in these movies, too, but since I don’t understand a word of it, I’m not offended.

There is something wonderfully mysterious about ancient Chinese and Japanese culture. To many who are born and raised in the United States in general and the Midwest in particular, these countries are as far away as the Andromeda Galaxy. The language, the traditions, are so different that you can’t help but be wrapped up in their heady perfume. Even if the genres are fantasy, you can learn a lot about a culture from the way they interact with each other. The things they say. The things they don’t say.

I am finding this true in art, too. I feel like I’ve lived so long with blinders on that I never knew there was art outside of Monet and Renoir. That a painting, a sculpture, a movie, can speak thousands of words about a person’s heritage, beliefs, and history. That the art of the Netherlands is just as mysterious and beautiful as that of Harlem. That there is a place in history for shoguns as well as scullions.

And all the fields of Creativity are speaking to us.

Of course, the main reason I don’t get much writing done is that I have to read the subtitles on the screen. (That’s how I know about the swearing.) And you really have to concentrate, because each movie has different inferences. Like the one I just watched was big into Mao’s Cultural Revolution. The one the other night was big into Buddha. And Fearless was about the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation. Important conversations and innuendoes that you would miss if you were merely listening to the movie while, say, doing the dishes.

The Han Dynasty. The 18th Dynasty of  Tutankhamun. The Age of the Vikings  from 8th century to mid 11th century A.D. The Middle Ages. Genghis Khan, Emperor of the Mongol Empire in 1206. Worlds we can only imagine. Worlds only writers and historians can imagine. I just can’t resist books and documentaries and movies that put only a toe into those oceans of the past. Time travel of the most extraordinary kind.

Maybe that’s why these exotic Chinese movies interest me so much. Even if made in modern times, they reflect ancient traditions. Ancient worlds. Places I will never experience except in my mind.

But Ho! I’ve learned something too —  who knew they had the same swear words in Ancient China as they do today?

Pardon My French

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Bon jour!

Dear me — I’m transforming — again. I have been bitten by the Paris bug.

 I have wandered down many a reincarnation in my short 62-year life. As I have said in other blogs, I went through a Renaissance period in my 30s; shields and maiden dresses and unicorn tapestries. There was a cool working-downtown-Chicago phase when I was really young; I was never cool nor chic enough to keep up with the bubbles downtown, but it was fun pretending while it lasted.

Now I’m on the French train.

I am thinking of changing my writing name to either Claudette or Colette or Jacqui; my short term/long term memory is shot, so I can’t really learn French, but I know enough to eat (who doesn’t know Coq au vin or baguettes or Éclairs?) I have watched Midnight in Paris a hundred times, ordered Hemmingway’s Moveable Feast, and Colette’s Gigi; and signed up for a couple of French  accounts (Haven in Paris on Twitter, Tongue in Cheek in email).

My BoHo Chic wardrobe-in-progress will fit splendidly on my pretend-jaunts through the French countryside, along with the pretend-designer purses I pick up at Good Will for my jaunts into Paris Proper. I have glanced at what basics a French Madame needs (flats, cars, cardigan, boots). Well, still working on that.

What is it twith this L’influence française?

It must be my never-ending desire to role play. To know who I am and who I can pretend to be. Who cares? I never did much dress up as a kid; my body was never conducive to mini skirts or leggings or stilettos. But my imagination has always played the boundaries. And the older I get, the more I can’t help but push.

This newly found love of Paris in the rain and wine tasting at La Cloche des Halles and spending the day at Versailles are all pipe dreams I’ll never really live. Kids, grandkids, work, car repairs, second mortgages, school loans, all take a toll on my very small pocket-book.

But then again, I probably will never wander through the lavender fields in England or the Moors in Scotland or the castles in Germany. But through adult-style role playing, I can write and draw and cook and pretend any time I want.

We all grow up too fast. Watching my 5-year-old grandson pretend to be Ironman or a farmer, he finds all the pleasure without the consciousness of pain and labor and broken dreams. They are happy in their own world, happy that you’re in it, too. That’s the state of mind I want to get back to.

People are so cynical these days. Creativity Creates Chaos. If you don’t look and act your age and status, you’re an easy target for rdicule and repremands.

Well, I say — lighten up.

Am I going to raise children through adverse poverty like in Les Miserables? Am I going to drive around aimlessly in the pouring rain singing La Vie En Rose? Am I going to spend an entire paycheck on some overpriced French perfume?

I think not.

Maybe I love getting lost in someone/someplace else because I have an idea for a story about two people who meet at a French bistro one evening and, for one night, find their soulmate. Or maybe I want to write a poem about the remarkable River Seine. Or maybe I want to sketch an op art picture of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile.

I once wrote a story about a girl who ate lunch at an outdoor cafe, and drifted off to an encounter with a guitarrista in Mexico. I wrote another about a time out of time, a touch of midieval. One of my novels takes place in a displaced Eturia (Rome). I dove into each of those worlds with both feet. I researched ancient Roman cultures, Mexican hideaways, and King Arthur’s realm. And I think it helped make my worlds real.

I want to play with my characters. Feel what they feel. Live in their world. I want to tell their story. And if I get lost in a little pot au feu or astralology or Romans in space, so what?

Use your imagination to be whomever you want to be. You know where your core is — you’ll never get lost. You can come home to your warm bed and IPad and cable TV any time you want.

But in the meantime…(clears throat…)

 

Quand il me prend dans ses bras    

Il me parle tout bas

Je vois la vie en rose…..

 

I’m Coming to Get You…

scaryWhat does it take to scare you? Rather, what does it take in a movie to scare you?

Things have certainly changed since Boris Karloff chugged along as Frankenstein. These days readers and movie goers have seen just about everything there is to see in the blood and guts world. I mean, most of what is considered “horror” is really more “disgust.” How much you can do to the human body and still let them live. Even when the story is clever, there’s nothing about losing limbs and buckets of blood that make those little hairs on your head stand up.

Writing horror isn’t easy. It’s not easy to twist plots and rattle windows and whisper in someone’s ear and have them be truly frightened. Portraying that same creepy feeling on film is not easy, either. I get it. But the more we grow spiritiually, emotionally, and psychologically, the more it takes to catch us off guard.

My son gets Netflix, so I decided to take a ride down the horror road and see what I could see. Half of the movies I’ve seen, half I have no interest in. Maybe it’s being older, but just because someone has pins in his head doesn’t make someone scary. Yet, the way Hellraiser talked, the way he held himself, the way he slowly pried his way into the lives of the unsuspecting — now that was pretty creepy. It turned pretty bloody/gutsy, but the earlier ones threatened more and showed less. I tried one from France: some kids climbing over a locked gate and mountain climbing into the horror pit where some hillbilly wacko lived. (Teenagers are always so dumb.)

I’ve tried old ones (The Scream series), I’ve tried new ones (The Walking Dead). I’ve tried ghosts, monsters, psychos, and snakes. Some make it to kinda creepy, others are just d-u-m-b. The Saw series is nothing but bloody psychological terror, one fingernail at a time. But it’s not horror.

Back in the day, movies like Psycho and Halloween  brought “real life” horror into the realm of the everyday. The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead put normal people in abnormal — and often deadly — situations. Alien and The Thing took those same situations and put them in outer space or in the future.  Devil possession, zombies, psychos in masks — how can you deal with those?

But as the years passed, what was once novelty became remakes, each one more technically savvy but emotionally empty. By the time Halloween VI or Alien Resurrection came along, nothing was new. We’d been there, done that. Only the stars had changed. And the ability to frighten us.

So what kind of movies twinkle my creepy twinkie?

It’s obvious that humankind wants to be frightened now and then. Controlled frightened. Like frightened for the length of  a movie only.  The Grudge was pretty scary, with dead bodies scurring across the ceiling and up the stairs. The first couple Aliens were pretty scary, even though by the second one we knew the formula (pick off people one by one). Even though my husband and kids disagree by miles, I loved Cabin in the Woods, because it brought all possible endings and villians to the end. I’m hooked on The Walking Dead — I mean, sheriff driving around, looking at overturned trucks and abandoned cars, wondering what’s up, and the next thing you know — Armageddeon! How can you not be creeped out by that?

I loved the old “The Haunting“, and pffffted the remake. I wasn’t scared by windows turning into eyes and canopy beds coming down to squish the heroine — I loved the old black and white because you couldn’t see the adversary. Who can forget the lion’s head doorknob turning evvver-soooo-slooowly? Or the banging and breathing of the bedroom door? You never once saw a bloody hand or face or someone’s entrails spilled on the floor. It was your imagination that frightened you.

And that, I think, is the heart of anything scary. The victims on the screen have to be you, but not you. To be tortured would be cruel beyond imagination. To have a child see dead people everywhere — that’s another story. To be able to capture your imagination and be three steps ahead of it is the true heart of a scary story. To not be able to tell what is real and what isn’t — that’s the stuff nightmares are made of. Movie or not.

So tell me — have you seen any good scary movies lately?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Rob Gonsalves

 

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it, we go nowhere.

Carl Sagan, Astronomer

 

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Rob Gonsalves (1959-) is a Canadian painter of magic realism with a unique perspective and style.

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During his childhood,  Gonsalves developed an interest in drawing from imagination using various media. By the age of twelve, his awareness of architecture grew as he learned perspective techniques and he began to create his first paintings and renderings of imagined buildings.

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You can see influences of Dali and Escher, realistic and surrealistic, yet a style that is all his own.

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Rob Gonsalves’ work differs from the “surrealistic” category because the images are deliberately planned and result from conscious thought. His work is an attempt to represent our desire to believe in the impossible.

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His ideas are largely generated by the external world and involve recognizable human activities, using carefully planned illusionist devices. A touch of magic, perhaps.

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It is like he takes what we know, and turns the canvas just enough to make us wonder exactly what it is we are looking at.

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Maybe the term “Magic Realism” describes his work accurately. But then again, why label anything so magical?

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His fantastic work can be found all across the Internet such as http://www.paragonfineart.com/artists/rob-gonsalves.html and Rob Gonsalves.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Doors

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Open the door and you shall see

The most wondrous things from land to sea.

Your dreams await on the other side

Imagination beckons far and wide

What do you think awaits you there?

Come! Let us venture without a care

A chance to explore worlds never seen

Magic and reality and all inbetween

Open the door and you shall see

The most wondrous things from land to sea.

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The Twilight Zone

200There was a Twilight Zone marathon on television over the New Year’s holiday. It was a delight in its black-and-white originality. Like the original Star Trek, the episodes are pretty dated; stiff acting and unrealistic props make the episodes occasionally uneasy to watch.  But if you get past the technical blips of 50 years ago, you will see the beginning of real science fiction.

In 1955, Rod Serling branched out into television script writing with the TV business drama Patterns. Patterns earned Serling his first Emmy Award. His second Emmy win came a year later, with the 1956 production ofRequiem for a Heavyweight, starring Jack Palance.

What I didn’t know was that during the late 1950s, Serling fought the CBS network when they insisted on editing his controversial scripts.

In a television era today where the bloodier/sexier/bolder the better, it’s hard to imagine such censorship laid the early foundation of storytelling. Fortunately for us, instead of continuing to fight inevitable censorship, Serling turned from realism to the sci-fi fantasy genre in 1959 with the iconic series The Twilight Zone.

Side by side in the world with Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling was able to take the politics of the day and turn the truth into something real and foreboding. The themes that ran through The Twilight Zone continue to be relevant in 2015. Our horrors, our problems, may seem much more complicated these days, but we are not so different than those who feared the Cold War or alien invasions.

The real purpose of this blog was to read the “description” of Rod Serling’s leap to other worlds. It sums up the reason why writers write. No matter if it’s biography, science fiction, poetry, mysteries, or editorials. The reason we write is to escape into the “fifth” dimension. That world that exists beside us, beneath us, inside of us. Whether we can see it or not, the story is there. No matter where creativity lies, it’s waiting there for us. To open the door. To open the mind.

Listen:

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call “The Twilight Zone”.

Isn’t that ALL art?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery — Ramon Bruin

I have heard that life is nothing but an illusion.

Then what would you think of Optical Illusion..ism?

 

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Ramon Bruin, born in 1981 in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, graduated in 2010 from the Airbrush Academie in Lelystad, The Netherlands.  In 2012 he made a worldwide breakthrough with his own invented style which he calls ‘Optical Illusionism’.

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Optical Illusionism is a combination of drawing and photography. Bruin creates drawings that come to live when photographed from the exact right angle.

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Ramon Bruin makes you want to reach out and touch his creations.  As if they existed in your own three dimensions.

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It takes incredible hand and eye coordination to bring a creation to life. To give it breath and depth.

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But it takes less than a moment to appreciate the same.  Less than a flash to marvel and appreciate.

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And all the while you wonder — how does he do that? And like the true magician, the truth will be always elusive.

And that is the beauty of it.

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To find more intricacies of Ramon Bruin, I encourage you to go to his website, http://www.ramon-bruin.com/art/ .

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Stilettos

In the beginning of October I wrote a blog called Magic Shoes (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-Dq) about the debacle of buying gym shoes. The pic I found for that article was awesome.

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But in searching for the perfect image I came across others that made my eyes (and my feet) pop.

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I can’t tell you how many foot-squishing, toe-breaking, gorgeous shoes I came across.

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I have flat feet, so I have never fantasized about wearing shoes like these. I believe you have to have a certain kind of foot, along with a certain kind of personality, to walk out of the house with creations such as these.

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If you can get past the outrageousness of the height, you can admire the creativity of the mind behind the shoe.

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So instead of viewing these heels as foot torture to the hundredth degree, I choose to look at them at creative freaks of nature.

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Just make sure if you think of dancing in these shoes,  you have a paid health insurance policy as well.

GIANMARCO-LORENZI-rhinestone-collector-sandal4

Bird Brain…Again?

I was driving to work this morning, and once again I came across a murder of crows — actually, three murders. (Would that be murderers?) And it got me thinking — and remembering — a little post I did back in September of 2014. So, while I ponder the meaning of life and and crows on the asphalt, have a smile with this —

 

 

BIRD BRAINcrow

I was driving to work this morning when I passed a bunch of crows on the side of the road (who ever decided to call a group of crows a ‘murder’ anyway?), doing whatever crows do. A few seconds later there was a single crow on the side of the road, doing the same thing.  Now, being the kind of gal I am, I started to wonder — what was that single crow thinking?

Now, I didn’t necessarily want to become on of those people who anthropomorphize (give human characteristics and emotions) animals. The crow was probably not thinking at all. But let’s let reality fly to the wind and let fantasy take over.  I started thinking of what he/she might be feeling:

(a)  oh…woe is me….no one wants to pick the gravel with me…no one likes me…I’m sooooo aloooonnnneee…

(b)  man,  I am so glad to be away from that group of big mouths. They’re such know-it-alls. I don’t need crows in my life like that…

(c)  won’t you flyyyyyy……freeeee bird…..

(d)  what do you mean there are other crows around here?

When you start to think about things like this it starts to look like a Rorschach Test — everyone sees something different.

Me — I kinda wanted to pick all of the above. A … no…B! Mmm…I’d like it to be C. Or most likely D.  I’m so confused! Just like my life!  When I’m feeling down, I would pick (a), cuz I’m convinced no one likes me; when I’m peeved at the world it’s definitely B; when I’m feeling great there is no other choice but C; but most of my life it’s probably D, cuz I often don’t know what’s going on around me.  It may seem confusing, but it IS fun.

What do YOU think the crow is thinking?

Something New!

The older I get (I never get tired of saying that!), the more I am taking time to discover corners of the world that I’ve never seen before. Now, that statement is all encompassing, all omnipotent. Yet for me, it’s very simple. I can only explore one line of extraordinary at a time. There is fantastic scenery, scrumptious foods, unusual land formations and mystical forms to be discovered.

For me, it is Unique Art.

What does that mean?

There are thousands of fantastic images floating around the Internet. Blogs and websites dedicated to all branches of the hallowed world of sculpture, photography, painting, sketching. I couldn’t possibly visit, showcase, and recommend all the beauty that exists outside my middle-aged sphere.

So I have decided that once a week I will showcase creativity that stands outside of reality. Outside the every day. Now, everything can fit into those parameters. So I hope to show you images you’ve never seen or imagined or saw somewhere on Facebook and let pass. Some will have links to websites; others will just be visions that have passed my way. I will honor the sites I borrow the visions from, and I do hope you take a few minutes to visit their homeworld.

If you’ve come across any unique worlds, let me know. Let’s make our next 20 years as out-of-the-box as we can make it!

And if any of my wanders tickle your fancy, let me know that, too. For I’d love to have company along the way….

A Way With Words

Glass Textures 067Like many or most of you, I love the written word. When used correctly, words can expand three times their height and width as they push their way into your thoughts and heart. Of course, we all like different words. That’s the beauty of freedom — we can nod at one and shake our head at another, yet appreciate both.

One of the blogs I follow is written by a very creative and talented writer and visual artist. I was struck by her imagery and imagination. I just love the images that pop with each turn. Unfortunately, this creativeness was brought about by a migraine, not the sort of writing prop we look for. While I wish her swift healing and relief from what can be a debilitating episode, I asked (and was granted) permission to share her creativity. It’s a little over 1,300 words, but I think you will appreciate them all.

If you enjoy what you read, pop on over and check out her website: Inner Focus (www.katmphotography.wordpress.com).  It’s a wonderful combination of poetry and art.

 

Delirium

a new fever has me in its clutches… i can feel her long, bony, icy fingers twist my spine and contort my brain… i need paracetamol… i need a glass of water… i need to sleep…

but sleep won’t come easy…

paracetamol… a glass of water… bed.

i climb into bed… i am shaking… my hands are tingling… am i hungry..? am i over-tired..? i feel exhausted… i feel sick… nausea rushes at me like a jealous mistress… my head feels twice the size it should be… my forehead is hot… my feet are cold… i am shaking… i swallow the pills and wash them down with a long drink of water.

i climb into bed… the pillow feels cool beneath my heavy skull… i close my eyes and then it starts… i must ride this out until it breaks…

micro flashing neon lights spark inside my minds eye, igniting visions… visions… murky, but i look deeper… deeper into the grain and chaos… i see a face… a man’s face… it is Stalin… he is standing outside an old house… a house on a wild beach… a house with a red door… suddenly, he vomits all over himself… then dissolves into a puddle on the ground… i look out to sea… but the sea is not a sea… it is a vast expanse of rippling silken fabric, billowing in the breeze… i look up to the sky… a pterodactyl swoops in low over the water towards me… i duck for cover and close my eyes tight, anticipating being snatched up by the giant predatory bird… nothing… the wind has picked up the pace and snatches my breath… i gasp and open my eyes… i find myself atop one of the steel eagles that grace the lofty Chrysler Building in NYC… i am terrified… the wind is strong… my hair whips my face… i am too scared to look down… but i do… and now my palms are wet, sweating… i cannot hold on, i lose my grip… but wait! i am typing… i am sat at a desk, in the middle of a forest, and i am typing… typing incoherent words on a sheet of stiff, white paper… The typewriter is old and battered and clunky… a pale blue Olivetti electric typewriter… my curious eyes follow the flex… it is plugged into a giant snail… the sound of my fingers tapping the keys rattles my brain… the words make no sense… the words make me shiver… i open a cupboard… an old farmhouse style larder- just like the one my Aunt Mary had at Fullerton Farm… i open the door and find hundreds of tins of Baked Beans… i close the door… but the door is a mirror now… i stare at my own reflection… i smile to her, but she does not smile back… she is naked… pale, gaunt… two headless horses appear behind me… one black as night, The other white as snow… the white one speaks to me in a language i cannot comprehend… but we start to dance… the floor beneath me turns to silver sand… the sun is beating down on me… i pull the quilt around me and nestle into the comfort and familiarity of my bed, despite the madness of these visions… visions i have no control over… i cannot make them stop… they come, in a flood… my mind is a fairground… i look at my hands… six fingers on each hand… i cut off the tips of my fingers with a large pair of shears… they are bleeding… i put on a pair of bright yellow rubber gloves and go outside into the night… there are two moons in the sky… both are full and resplendent… the night is cool… i am alone… i look to my left and the buildings start to crumble and fall… an apple falls from the sky and rolls towards me, stopping at my feet… It speaks to me… beckoning me to take bite… i pick up the lilac apple and bite into its soft, juicy flesh… it tastes salty… so i throw it away… it explodes on impact… in the distance, i hear a child’s voice… it is my lover’a son… he appears out of nowhere, wearing a flappy bird t-shirt and red jeans… he is barefoot, as i am… he takes my hand and tells me to follow him… i do… suddenly, i find myself, alone, inside a computer… i look at my hands… i am made of pixels… i peer through the screen and see a morbidly obese man, sitting on his sofa with a boxful of donuts… he is playing a computer game… he is controlling me and my movements… he is controlling the CGI world i now find myself locked in… i like it here, but i cannot stay… i call out for my lover’a son… but he is gone… he has left me a note… it reads “gone fishing, be home Tuesday!”… i smell coffee… i look down and find myself in a bathtub full of warm, steaming coffee… it stains my skin… my lover appears… he dries my wet skin with a cloud, gently patting it dry… he lovingly combs my wet hair and strokes my face… we kiss… and float out the wind into space… we swim through the stratosphere and look back at Earth… it looks radiant and blue… i take a bite… it tastes like battery acid… the shock cuts my tongue and i spit out blood and a chunk of France… “it never used to taste like this…” says my lover, his eyes filled with tears… he spits a mouthful of India out into the blue stratospheric air… he fades into the night… “soon…” he says, blowing kisses as he dissolves into the ether… i find myself in a deep, Belfast sink… the cold tap is turned on and the sink is filling up with tiny sea horses and goldfish… they sparkle and shimmer and swim around me… but i need to urinate… i open my eyes, climb out of bed and make my way to the bathroom across the hall… my legs are shaking… i feel weak… perhaps sleep will come soon… i hope for a dreamless sleep… but instead, i find myself in a field full of rabbits… hundreds and thousands of rabbits… rabbits of all different colours… the pink ones are my favourites… odd… i hate the colour pink… but they are the friendliest… i reach up to the sky and reel in the sun… i hold it in my hands… it burns, but only momentarily… my cold hands chill its fire and it turns from burning amber to brittle blue… the sun shatters in my hands… i am left holding fragments of turquoise glass… i throw the shards up into the air… they tinkle and twinkle against the sky, like dying light… The tranquility of their peaceful chimes turns into an ugly chaos as the fragments of harmless light turn into bullets… they rain down all around me… everything has turned to dust… children lie dead around me… women scream… another bomb goes off… the ground shakes, like the thunder of the apocalypse… there is no colour… everything is grey… the course of death… i hear the wail of an electric guitar… someone, somewhere is playing a guitar… it wails, like a wounded animal… i cover my ears and crouch down, holding myself… crying… i open my eyes and see a young deer, chewing a leafy twig, at the foot of my sweating bed…

the pillow is damp… i turn it over and, with trembling hands, i gulp down a glass of cold, clean water… i close my eyes… please let me sleep… a dreamless sleep… please… these rapid fire flashbacks of former trips inside my minds eye and visions of my subconscious’ innermost thoughts and fears, as surreal as they are, are raping my brain… i am exhausted… i want calm… i want to feel well again… i look at the time… three hours have passed… i have been away for three hours…

i take two more pills, and water… and close my eyes…

but wait! my feet are covered in sand…

 

 

Creative Face Offs

They sculpt! They mold! They paint! They foam! And they are amazing!

I’m always a television season or six behind the rest of the world, but when I do catch up I find the wildest, greatest stuff. Only last week I recorded the latest season (Season 6) of Face Off. It’s a wonderful little show on SciFi TV that showcases another one of the “Arts”.

According to the IMDB, Face Off is a competition/elimination series exploring the world of special-effects make-up artists and the unlimited imagination which allows them to create amazing works of living art.

Now, I’ve been a fan of  shows that highlight personal creativity for years. Take cooking shows. The Iron Chef Japan was one of my earliest introductions into the exquisite beauty of food. Food as Art, as they say. Today’s contestants on Iron Chef America, Master Chef, and even Chopped, create these masterpieces that leave your jaw extended and your mouth open like a bass. I always find myself saying, “Oh…I could do that…couldn’t I?” Or “What didn’t I think of that?” Knowing darn well that I’d need a Master Kitchen, unlimited budget, a plethora of cookbooks and magazines, and a budget the size of a Presidential Dinner just to be clever on the plate.

Face Off is the “Master Chef” of sculpturing, molding, and painting. These contestants do things I only dream of. Each week they are assigned a different “creation”: dragons, wizards, robots. They have to come up with their own design, then use a warehouse full of props, materials, and models to create pieces that would easily fit in any blockbuster movie.

faceoff 1The most amazing part of this show – aside from the raw talent and imagination – is that these are (to my way of living) KIDS! They are 24. 26. 31. There was an oldie at 41. I can hardly remember what I was DOING at 27 – getting married, I think – but it certainly wasn’t creating magic like this, that’s for sure. They have cherry-colored hair and sticky up hair and mustaches and yellow Mohawks. They look like the guy next door or the girl from Planet 9. But they all share the love of creativity, something that runs through all of us.

I am just in awe of anyone who has such phenomenal talent to be able to create something from nothing but their imagination. I happen to be a proponent of writing, but there are so many other artistic expressions out there that I am often in that jaw dropping/bass-mouthed state of being.

I encourage you to constantly take a fresh look at the world around you. There are so many beautiful self expressions out there — in words, in sculpture, in jewelry.  Encourage everyone who has even an inkling to be artistic to do so. Whether it’s your grandbaby, your girlfriend, or your grandfather. Get them out there and get them to embrace their artsyness.face off 1

You will find it’s a rewarding feeling on both sides. And who knows what magic will blossom along the way?

 

 

all images courtesy of Face Off and the SciFi Channel

Curiouser and Curiouser

writing-a-bookI have been having a Renaissance of sorts lately in my writing world. I’m having a blast with my blog, fine tuning a few older poems and short stories, but most of all, editing my latest novel. I think it will be a blast-off-the-planet sort of book once it’s published, throwing together a little sci-fi, a little romance, a little murder, a little sex — you know — your run-of-the-mill blockbuster.

Of course, I’m only on my first edit.

I wrote the story back in 2010. Unfortunately, a lot of interruptions, distractions, illnesses, and depressions got in the way between then and now. But I always knew I’d come back to it some day, fresh and ready to do business. And boy, does this novel need some business.

I’ve decided to break my full-length dissertation into chapters, using quotations to introduce each chapter. A heady idea, seeing that I need to edit the book at the same time. So the Great Revival of Art and Writing  movement (a.k.a.Renaissance) has started in earnest. And I’m having a great time.

So the question for you is: Do you ever revamp something you’ve created? Keep the basics but rearrange the frills? Did it make it better? Or just mess it up more? It doesn’t have to be writing — it can be designing jewelry or designing a quilt or changing the emphasis in a poem.

Most things I write I keep the same. Maybe a tweak here, a sentence there. I do a lot of clean up — I do have a bad habit of over-using certain words or phrases. But for the most part structure remains structure. So this is a new thing for me.

Let me know if it worked for you.

The Gazing Ball

gazing-globe-12When you look into the gazing ball, what do you see?

Do you make a wish?

Do you see infinity?

Is it a reflection? Or an inflection?

You are never too old to look into the gazing ball.

The reflection is only the beginning.

I feel a new project on the horizon.

A new chance to

Create

Play

Research and

Wander.

What do YOU see when you look into the gazing ball?

 

 

Oh Euglena … Come Out and Play …

euglena2The other day I blogged about the light-bulbs-growing-on-grass-thing. Inspiration, getting the growth going and all. Then I had the day from Hades — personal flubs, everything from losing my debit card to a momentary lapse of memory to indigestion. I wondered how I would ever live up to the growing thing. The writing thing. The inspiration thing.

Then I found my little notebook that had the plot line of my second novel scribbled in multi colors.  It’s like someone really did turn the light bulbs on the grass on. A plot! A direction! Ideas! I remember looking fondly, wistfully, at the little 3 x 5 thing, not really interested in my character’s continued adventures in Tinaria.  But now — here it was. Waving. Calling. Teasing.

What made this adventure even sweeter, though, was that I overcame my “do not share” mentality and actually asked for advice for my story. I was stuck on a premise I started in my first novel, and had no idea how to manifest an explanation in the second. So I talked to my good friend Cal The Science Guy about colors and blood and time travel. I actually told him about my story idea and asked for a feasible way around my blockage. I was able to get an educated — and fun — opinion about my work and my ideas.

The point of this evening’s conversation is that I learned to share my work. Not hide it. I always wanted to make sure my writing was perfect before I shared it with anyone.  Like, if I didn’t tell them about it ahead of time they would like it better. All the grammar hadt o be perfect; the conversations, the encounters, all had to be smoothly  orchestrated. If I was stuck, so what. I just changed ideas. All because I wanted to “surprise” my reader.

You would think at my age I would know better. The best kept secrets are nothing but secrets. Who cares about the stories you’re not telling anyone? Publication is a a fleeting thought; a dream, possible in some spheres of reality, impossible in others. Winning first place in an art show or  graphic competition just as nebulous. What matters is NOT keeping these things a secret. No matter if you are a painter, a jewelry maker, or a writer. If you are stuck, ask someone. It’s not like they’re going to take your idea, or laugh at your idea, or tell everyone your idea.

We all get stuck in life. Some landmines can’t be helped. It’s life. But not sharing your stories, your poems, your creativity because you are afraid someone might not like it? Pfffttt….what does that matter? Did you like making that necklace? Did you enjoy stenciling that room? That’s what it’s all about. Need a little boost, a little clarification? Don’t be afraid to share your creation with someone. Everyone needs help now and then. I mean, even Van Gogh painted side by side with Gauguin.

OK, Cal…about this alien/time travel/gladiator  thing….

What Is Role-Playing and Can I Do It By Myself?

I am a latent visitor to the world of the Internet, a late bloomer in the cosmos of websites, chat rooms and Amazon dot com.  In a world where five-year-olds surf the Net and download information, I didn’t stumble upon the magic of instant gratification until my mid-40s.  Suddenly I went from frumpy bed and breakfast owner to info surfing mama.  I mean, can you imagine talking in real time to people in Australia or England or Japan?  Can you imagine finding answers to everything you ever wanted to know but had no idea where to look? The Internet became a fountain of information — and a cauldron of trouble.

There were a number of downsides to instant gratification and the collection of useless information on my way to insight and intelligence. I spent too many hours chatting and too little time cleaning rooms and answering phones.  I wasted too many hours surfing medieval and dragon sites and far too little time at Web MD or Dictionary dot com. Eventually all the websites looked the same and all the chat rooms buzzed with the same, repetitive drone.  I had worn out my welcome, or rather the Internet did. But one of the positive things to come from my aimless wanderings was role-playing.

What is role-playing, you may ask?  According to Wikipedia, role players “adopt and act out the role of characters (real or fantasy), or parts, that may have personalities, motivations, and backgrounds different from their own.”  In all reality, that sounded at first like something a lot of us do every day. But back to point: from role-playing came a reigniting of a passion I had long forgotten about — writing.

Not that I didn’t write before, but putting pen to paper was never on my list of top ten things to do on a Saturday afternoon.  I had kept a diary years — and I mean years — ago.  There were a few short stories written in my junior high years (mostly about me and the Beatles), a few high school and college required papers (dare I ever share the story about the alien who landed in the marijuana field?), but nothing more.  With the advent of working in downtown Chicago and getting married and having two kids and a large network of crazy family members, there never seemed to be enough time to write anything but grocery lists or Christmas cards.

Through the initial excitement of wandering through Internet worlds, I stumbled upon chat rooms where people typed to each other as if they were face-to-face.  Interesting.  I didn’t have to fess up that I was a 40-ish year old housewife/innkeeper; I didn’t have to admit I was 20 pounds overweight or that I just finished scrubbing the toilet. All I needed to do was make up a name and race and I belonged.  Can you imagine the doors that opened for a writing goddess like me?  Role-playing was like a video game with instant feedback.   I could write my own dialogue, fight with swordsmen, disappear or have flames shoot from my fingertips, all with a sentence or two.  I could make up galaxies I’d visited or space captains I’d met or dragon lairs I visited and everyone would nod and react in their own character’s way. For someone who was already starting mid-life in a whirling dervish, this was just the outlet I needed.  It was so much fun making up characters and histories and names like Tulip Stormbringer or Lieutenant Ru.

Of course, it wasn’t all creative fun. Story lines didn’t always go where you wanted, people blabbered out-of-character about nonsense, and I spent more time looking for interaction than finding it. Not to mention the fact that you often left your family (and your life) on the back burner. Not smart.

Although that time was brief and scattered, I learned a lot about who I was and who I wanted to be.  The English language called me back home, and my naturally wandering Sagittarius nature encouraged me to step out of the box and write about a myriad of things. In those make-believe worlds I learned that age and sex and size and career didn’t matter. 

Most of us tend to hide behind our preconceived notions of self.  We limit ourselves by our own skewered judgment of what we think the world thinks we should be.  Like any other creative outlet, it was the discovery of a fourth dimension that brought delight and growth to my life.  The first three dimensions, (length, width and height), tumble into parameters conceived by physics and mathematics. What I call the fourth dimension is an enlightened plane of experience.  It can be found in any activity that requires creativity: building, dressmaking, crocheting, reading, or gardening.  The end product is independent of us — it takes on a life of its own as it is being created.

So it was with my flirtation with role-playing. It was no substitute for getting together in person with friends or taking a class or meeting with the local library group. But unlocking those doors brought in a flood of new experiences to both my mind and soul. And I can tell you today that you don’t have to be a role-player to find that power within your very genes.  You can find that personality explosion within yourself.

Don’t be afraid to try something new, or bring your old love out of the dusty past.  Give your passion — and yourself — a chance. You will find that you are not as off-target as you think you are.

Just remember to take your wings off before you get into the car.  They can help you fly, but they can also get hooked on the seatbelt, preventing you from flying to Atlantis and attending Michelangelo’s next art show with Obiwan Kenobi.

Just imagine how sad that would be.

You Didn’t Read Which One??

With the Madness of Summer burning the bottoms of our feet, there is not often much time to do any deep reading. A news headline here, a gossip column there, is about all one can squeeze in between State Fairs and Renaissance Faires and Italian Fairs.  So I thought I’d make it short and sweet this time around…come along and check out some of my oldies-but-goodies and see for yourself how fun managing the madness and magic and middle age can be!

Sharpening the Tool  — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/sharpening-the-tool/

I hate it when people say that many middle-aged people “aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.” It’s condescending, insulting, naive and just plain wrong. What I hate even more, though, is being one of those dull tools. Alas, there are times when I feel I’m struggling to stay in the shed, period.

Dancing in a Too Tight Tutu — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/522/

I was sitting around the other day with my gal friends, sharing tales about the weekend. We all seemed to have gone through the same delightful experience, albeit in different ways. We all were relaxed, having a good time, and probably drank a little too much, for we all said, “I’m too old for this.”  One sat with friends and sipped with friends all day, one went to an outdoor concert, and I party hopped.  I’m sure the situations were on the same astral plane as many others “my age.”  Time flows, excitement and comfort wraps around us, the atmosphere make us feel good, and before you know it we are waking up the next morning with a headache, saying, “I’m too old for this.

Dinner With the Queen https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/dinner-with-the-queen/

In the mundane throng of your very predictable life, don’t you now and then want to just break out of the box and do something different? Now that you have the experience of all those years behind you, don’t you want to make that experience mean something? Don’t you ever want to be bigger than life? Just for a day?

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwursthttps://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/the-importance-of-unicorns-and-bratwurst/

The Importance of Unicorns and Bratwurst. This is one of those ethereal, out-of-body titles that try to connect the cosmic to the ordinary, the magical to the mundane.  I was hit by this title some time ago, not having a clue as to what it meant or what I would eventually write about.  Even now, as my fingers hit the keys, I have no idea where this storyline is going.  But isn’t that so much like our everyday lives?

Merlot at the Lake House — https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/merlot-at-the-lake-house/

Quick.  Name a handful of your favorite movies. Not the “great” ones that are in your library ― the ones that define you. The ones you don’t admit entertain you time and time gain.  Are you what you watch? Are you big enough to admit that you are what you watch?