Dec 30, 2014

In which I also narrate something boring and mundane

My kids are addicted to watching other people narrate playing video games on You Tube.  My ten year old's aspirations aren't pop-singer or movie-starlet but to become a You Tube Vlogger.  My four year old opened his hand knitted Stampy Cat hat Christmas morning and exclaimed "I'm going to wear this ALL DAY!" While I get wearing a hat you love all day the watching of these shows... I just don't get.  I don't watch videos of people narrating drinking beer and playing cards. Though now that I type it I do realize there is a whole series of poker shows with announcers and card by card commentary and a whole industry of sports shows where nonstop barking about the exact actions you are seeing on the screen with your own eyes, is the preferred.  Why don't they just play the game? Why listen to people blab on about their virtual adventures? Why fill the house with an odd niche of voices having one sided conversations with themselves about mining and building and skins and esoteric nerd references that only I am old enough to get?

Dec 19, 2014

C.J. Campbell

Have you ever heard a song on the radio, gotten goose bumps and thought... that song is going to be big?

I went to my local story night.  I went by myself.  Just like the first time I went to roller derby, all the people I asked to accompany me backed out or got sick before I went, and I wanted to go so bad - I went by myself.  It was fun.  It's always been a treat to me to put my headphones in and cue up This American Life  to listen to before I clean.  I imagined some of the people would be good and some would be nervous. That was true, but I was not prepared to hear someone's voice and get goosebumps. I did.  This chap told a story that made me laugh, genuinely hard, and think, genuinely deep.  I was happy about having gone.

I went back the next month to hear more people and there was the guy again.  I was sort of excited to hear him tell another story.  I wondered if he was a one hit wonder or if his voice was going to hold and what would come out would give me goosebumps again.  This time he made me cry.  Sitting right there in the middle of the back row, trying to be all inconspicuous and cool, he said things that reached way down into the bottom of my belly and made me want to jump out of my chair and scream "ME! He's talking to me! That's me!" I couldn't wait to see the video later of the story he just told.  A week later I messaged the curator of the space and asked when the video would be up.  He said they had problems shooting and the videos wouldn't make it to the light of day.  I spent time trying to remember the story he told and no matter because it's the voice that does it justice.

There's nothing like watching an artist do what they do well, no matter how many time you re-sing it... you just want the artists' voice. So, I went and heard him tell stories a third time and this time I asked if he wrote them down. I asked him for a card, or a blog, a something. He did write. He has a blog.  He has a book.  That was the beginning of this...


I'm helping with this campaign and I am honored to say I'm making the book cover.  As you can see the project is fully funded and then some. So what.  Buy a copy.  It is really excellent art coming out of this desperate place here in the Midwest.  This is the flower that grows in the crack of the sidewalk, the beautiful that grey cement, empty factories and honking cars can't stop.  It's the guy that can make the most hardened middle-aged lady with mascara on, both laugh and cry in the middle of a small crowd of strangers. Go buy it.


The Zen of Beard Trimming: Stories of Punk Rock, Poverty, and the Search For Peace by C.J. Campbell

"Like a modern-day Candide, writer C.J. Campbell started his journey to achieve peace in the bosom of a safe environment with a well-meaning adviser to guide him, and like Candide, he journeyed out into a world where everything went wrong, sometimes in hilarious ways, sometimes in excruciatingly heartbreaking ways, but always in entertaining ways. Seven years of his travels are painstakingly detailed in his memoir The Zen of Beard Trimming. Punk rock meets leaving Christian Evangelism meets Scandanavian models meets a mismatched cast of unlikely characters and scenarios in a fearless, brutally honest chronicling of the time-honored search for (meaning, love, peace, an apartment, food, and a damn microphone that works)."

Dec 2, 2014


Some days I feel like I kicked ass.  This day I managed to; get two kids to school and home safe and clean with homework done and snacks/lunches packed, finished an illustration of someone's house, calculated shipping to France, went to the dentist, got two fillings, hit the hardware store, the copy shop and the grocery with a numb face.  Cooked dinner, vacuumed, did a load of laundry all before leading a Girl Scout meeting while simultaneously entertaining a four year old boy at the meeting.  I'm still trying to catch up from when I was sick, so some some days this week have extra things in them, so they look like today but with added phone calls, errands, laundry, coffee and staying up late. Sometimes when people say I should sit down and try a new show on TV or I really should read the book their telling me about I feel like kicking them in the shins.

Human Limits

Nov 26, 2014

List of Minor Complaints

1. When your socks fall down inside your boots and bunch up on your feet.
2. Wind-shield wipers that only wipe a few stripes of clean.
3. Empty wiper fluid with salty roads means you have to get out and throw snowballs on your own wind-shield every stop.
4. Chapped lips.
5. Iced car door.
6. Snow in the sleeve.
7. Fogged up glasses

Nov 25, 2014

The Day After

I sat up late last night, like too many nights in my life, watching things burn on the television.  Switching between CNN and Fox News and C-Span, tabs open to Twitter, Livestream and Facebook, wondering if the chaos would come to our front door.  I remembered a time when we were at work, with radios on in offices, and televisions on in the break rooms, and loved ones on the phones, watching things crumble and trying to find out if everyone was accounted for.  This is how we are trained to find the truth now.  A press conference, and then we stick news channels in every orifice, and watch the live feed waiting for the anchor to confirm the the flames in front of our eyes.  

In the quiet morning over coffee, I look out to make sure the world is there and sit down to read what headlines were crafted while I dreamed away the smoke. We go on to work and school and sorting socks, the chaos at bay far beyond side-walks that need to be shovelled. We type thoughts out into the communal water cooler of the internet, and eagerly read through the sides of our eyes others' posts, all the while thinking carefully about the world.  We will talk about, how to talk about, how to talk about, how to talk about, why we stayed up late watching things burn, to our children.


Michael Whyte  · Rockford, IL · "Playing 'the race card'?" Dude, it's America. The "race card" is always in play. You're talking about a country that only exists because of the genocide of the indigenous people; that only thrived due to the slave labor of what was seen as an inferior race. This isn't ancient history.The Voting Rights Act happened IN MY LIFETIME, not in some distant antiquity. A black president is elected and America pats itself on the back for being able to count votes, pats itself on the back for being "post-racial," while a huge (HUGE!) segment of the white population very publicly loses its f'ing mind...even before the guy takes office. In the meantime, our worthless "liberal media" foments racial divide, the Congress treats the president with less respect than they treat the janitor, but no one is supposed to play "the race card" and we're all supposed to pretend to be be "color blind." What is happening in Ferguson, Missouri isn't about the killing of one young man. It's about what goes on when the cameras are off. It's about what goes on when the TV networks don't have a story to sensationalize. You don't know. You like to think you do, but you don't. That's what's on my mind, Facebook."

Nov 22, 2014

Dishes that take Days

Since it got cold I've been turning on the oven/stove more often. The usual banana breads and muffins and brownies are turning out good. I love a great soup, one you can simmer all day. It gives some humidity to the house and anticipation to your belly. Last week I made an unintended huge pot of chicken soup and had too many leftovers and not enough lefteaters. On Monday I got a request for mashed potatoes and suddenly something that hadn't occurred to me in in all my years of cooking and loving soups fell from the heavens and onto our plates.

Displaying IMG_8207.JPG
Mad Gravy

I took left over chicken soup and made it into gravy. 

Some of you just read that and said "duh" and others of you gasped in amazement. I would've been on the gasping side had I just read that elsewhere a week ago.  So, I put potatoes in a pot and a container of soup in a pan.  I added flour and cornstarch a little at a time to the soup and by the time the mashed potatoes  were finished the soup was thick.  It was so good I was mad.  Mad that I had missed the opportunity to make this for the last twenty years but didn't.  Mad that nobody I knew made this. Mad that I couldn't fit more than two plates of it in my belly. 

It seems like all of my favorite foods involve multiple days of cooking and left overs.

Left over chilli = chilli mac, chilli cheese dogs, chilli cheese fries. 

Left over mashed potatoes = potato pancakes, twice baked potatoes, shepherds pie

Stale bread = bread crumbs for everything, bread pudding, great French toast. 

Left over whipped cream = on cereal, in coffee, folded into fruit and yogurt. 

Left over pancakes = jelly rolls, pb&js

Left over Asparagus = fancy omelettes

Left over fried rice = fried rice omelettes

Left over mostaccioli = baked pasta

Left over soup = Mad Gravy, pot pies

Nov 16, 2014

Let me Share the Awful.

Last summer I broke my leg.  On the eighth day of having a broken leg I got the flu.  I don't mean lay in bed with body aches flu, I mean jump up and run to the bathroom so your body can turn itself inside out flu. But I had to do that with a broken leg and I wasn't very good at crutches yet and every time I moved my leg fast it hurt. I had it for two days.  Every cell in my body was taxed so hard that on the third day even though I felt better all I could do was lay in bed and have Gatoraide brought to me.  Then, my body hurt from being in bed for so long and I had to flip over every few hours to keep from cramping up into a giant knot of hurt.  Flipping over is hard when you have a broken ankle and no reserves.

That's the whole story.  I got better and my ankle healed and there really isn't any point to this story other than it sucked, a lot and I was sitting here eating toast this morning and thinking "That was awful!" and then I decided to type it out and share the worst out here on the internet, where I will read back one day and agree... yep that was indeed awful. The End.

Nov 10, 2014

Rediscovering What's Good

I was trying to describe how loud my house is at any given time in the day to a friend today.  He is young and single.  In my home, about every five minutes someone beckons "Mom!, mom! mom, mom....MOM!" Overlay that with what feels like a continuous soundtrack of Adventure Time or Sponge Bob from the television and whatever You Tube thing is streaming from several personal devices hung from my children's faces and lace it with NPR droning away in the kitchen and the retired neighbour obsessed with leaf blowing and mowing. Throw in the stomping of little feet and laughter and fighting and whining and every five minutes "Mom!, mom! mom, mom....MOM!" and you almost have it.

In the last two days, since the weather cooled down, the kids have rediscovered the forsaken third floor playroom in our home.  Every toy they haven't seen since last spring seems brand new and they're enjoying avoiding the in turn response to "Mom!, mom! mom, mom....MOM!" which is "Did you get your homework done?" "Haven't you watched enough ipad?" and "Who's socks are these?"  Occasionally they sneak down the stairs and into the kitchen for juice boxes and pre-wrapped food to leave on the carpet. (Which reminds me: Ella told me the other day she doesn't like 'crumbly things for breakfast' any more, I have no comment about that I just wanted to note it)

So the last few evenings have been extremely quiet for me.  It's unnerving, having gone from constant noise to just an occasional rumble from the third floor. I feel like I forgot something important.  I keep looking around to see if I left the stove on and walking up to the playroom to peer around the corner at my busy children.  Even now, I have this uninterrupted time to type my thoughts and I keep stopping every few minutes and looking around to see if someone need me to wipe or pour something. I think I'll put the TV on for some noise.

Cue the neighbour's leaf blower.

Nov 8, 2014

Correctamundo Kid

Jack liked Halloween because "You can catch some candy and yum it down."

Nov 6, 2014

Clueless, Unfunny & Gross

So this comedian I sorta liked tweeted this stuff two days ago about a very nice African-American lady that works on ESPN

After having 8 illegitimate kids together  & I marry at The Knights of Columbus in Linden New Jersey. Prob with that?! F- Off!

I attempt to whip  cuz she disrespected the Jefferson Plantation but she grabs whip & beats me I cum like a fat founding father

Hey  lets me and you get busy!

Pretty offensive right? So people get mad, ESPN says he can no longer go on their network, cue thousands of internet trolls crying about freedom and comedy.  Then the comedian issues this asinine statement:

"I'm about to say a few things I can't believe have to be explained in a rational world. I observed that Cari Champion was a gorgeous lady. I then thought it would be funny to tweet JOKES about that observation. A decision which might be the end of modern comedy. I would rather load trucks for a living then ever apologize to one of these awful PC groups ruining the country. So that's a NO. But if it upset the lady in question that's another story. Let me say to Cari Champion if this hurt u in any way I'm sorry. I'm a comedian. Sometimes I'm funny! For the record my moms disgusted w the tweets. But if I based my humor on my mom I'd be broke.

They're now telling me I can't appear on @Midnight tonight cause of the pressure they're getting from these groups. But who cares. I love the show & it's my living but who cares. These groups have won again. All I care about is Cari Champion. Truly. But I'm sure you'll be ok. You're gorgeous & talented. I hope that didn't offend u. To the PC army. Congrats! U won again! Gluten free cake! I've been asked not to appear on @midnight & uve ruined any chance I had at dating Cari Champion (That was a joke). I'm not racist. I don't hate women. And to u PC groups that did this I wanna be clear. Go FUCK yourselves! Now get back to saving the world. Done. Peace."

I'd like to say: No worries dude, modern comedy will go on without you.


Oct 29, 2014

Best Holidays

Late October mornings are the hardest.  The days start grinding into gear before the sun is even up.  It's so hard, we decided we should all change the fabric of time, en mass to make it suck slightly less.  I'm for it, always have been. There was a time when that extra hour was a celebrated reprieve of bar time and the bonus magical hour on the dance floor.  It was an hour that appeared out of the sheer will of society and damn if I was going to waste it by not dancing and laughing under party lights and upturned Martini glasses. Making it the same weekend as Halloween was genius, ensuring it as the greatest of Party People's holidays.  Now it is the greatest of People Who Always Need Sleep holidays.

Oct 20, 2014

Science Kid

Ella opened her homework folder the other day and I heard her squeal with delight, she said

"Ooooooooooh!  Data compilation!"

That's my girl. She's amazing every day.

Oct 19, 2014

Two Birds with Gum-ball Machine Ring

Much like how sugar just seems to accumulate in our house from various well meaning bank-tellers and check-out-clerks we also have a good amount of small toys that just appear.  They come from prizes won at school, pridefully cherished right up until the moment my child gets off the afternoon bus and walks in the house at which time I find the "prize" next to the crumpled worn socks of the day in the front hallway.  They are hastily grabbed in a hard fought scrum of children scrambling for the innards of a pinata at a party. They are begged from the edges of parade floats and given after finishing one's nuggets and fries.  They spontaneously appear in the bottom of my purse and in the floor boards of my car, in the pockets of the children and underneath the couch; these hot wheels and whistles, tiny bottles of bubbles, Frisbees with insurance agents phone numbers on them, squirt guns, packs of just three crayons, maze books, necklaces, temporary tattoos, gum-ball machine rings, rubber lizards, inspirational wrist bands, plastic frogs, tops, fuzzy moustaches and various plastic eggs that crack open to reveal something gooey, sticky and guaranteed to dry into a giant crust of gross on your mother's carpet.

As I find these items I've been throwing them all in one place, along with the missing dice, legos, meeple, marbles and playing cards that will only be important when they are missed.  They go into one giant bowl in my dining room.  Twice this year it's overflowed and I dumped it into a grocery bag with the intention of handing it back to a teacher to give out as prizes again and then having it instead collect dust in the hall closet.  Upon walking past the overflowing bowl again today I realized the most incredible solution!  Halloween. If you get to my house to trick or treat this year, you could get a candy or you could get a little balsa wood plane, or Alvin the Chipmunk on a skateboard. I hope you don't get the goo filled egg.

Oct 14, 2014

Morning Alarm

This morning I woke up to PEEP....PEEP..... PEEP! I think the smoke alarm battery is going dead. And I get out of bed slightly and hear it coming from the left of the bed... there's no smoke alarm there, so I sit up wide awake thinking the neighbor's house alarm is going off. I go to the window and tilt my ear and look around furiously, then I hear it coming from the other window... it's really loud now PEEP....PEEP..... PEEP! Standing at the other window it sounds like maybe it could be driving around the neighborhood. I wonder if a small bulldozer is backing up somewhere... I can't really tell where it's coming from... I sit down on the bed and wonder if I should investigate further.  My young child rolls over, it is then I realize... it's his nose whistling while he sleeps.

Oct 13, 2014

That Natural Look

It's Halloween and of course I'm looking at a bazillion cool makeups that will end up melting into my contacts by the end of the night causing a dense fog no one should drive in.  I thought I'd try to test a couple out tonight and got the smoky greys and blacks out.  I gently traced the lids with a nice jet black and blended out into grey and then finally layered in a lovely blood red at the end in an attempt to match the red the derby team I'll line coach this weekend will be wearing.  It ended up looking like the coal miner's take your daughter to work day.  Ten minutes of soap in the eye later I started again with liquid liner, drawing the perfect cat eye, followed by another perfect cat eye on the left side.  I stood back and looked at two perfectly non-matching cat eyes. arg. Maybe people will only look at me via profile and nobody will notice. After more soap in the eye, I gave up.  I'm going for good lips.

Oct 2, 2014

Three new paintings for Fall Art Scene.

Three new paintings for Fall Art Scene. They started with "Riding Hood's Heart" which went on the window outside of Bennie's Cleaners for Art Attack. It's just temporary and I loved it so much, having just laid my dear dog to rest after seventeen years of companionship, I repainted it only much smaller this time.

A tiny excerpt of "Riding Hood's Heart"

I wanted to do more, using the same palate I am in love with from Riding Hood's Heart, the very same paints I scavenged from the bucket of left overs at 317, when I was worried about covering all that large glass.  The paints that the late Tom Littrell left behind and that we in the 317 Artist Collective utilize when an emergency of scarce color arises.  I wanted to keep using Tom's paints. It felt sacred to me.

I wanted to paint more strength, and in my search for strong characters I remembered Valkyries. The name Valkyrie translates to choosers of the slain. They ride into war and choose who will be whisked off to Valhalla.  They are feared and revered, they are the companions of heros, it felt right.  So  - I painted the "Ride of the Valkyrie"

A tiny excerpt of "Ride of the Valkyrie"

At this point, I didn't mean to be reusing the word "Ride" but then it seemed like I needed a third.  "Rider on the Storm" was the title that came before the painting. A lone captain in her boat, she's tiny among the landscape and steadfast in her resolve in her travels and adventures.

A tiny excerpt of "Rider on the Storm"
I love each of these paintings very much.  They ended up on the canvas exactly as they were in my head and I'm thrilled to show them this Fall at Art Scene.

If you'd like to come see (or BUY!) the whole of these paintings, not just a tiny excerpt come down to, 317 Studio & Gallery at 317 Market St. Rockford, IL, tomorrow or Saturday Night and then wander around the corner to see the temporary window mural that inspired the paintings.


FRESHWATER MERMAIDS of NORTH AMERICA (22"x28" framed print) will also be at 317 Studio & Gallery for Fall Art Scene.  There are only 3 unframed signed and numbered prints left ($40.00) and there will be 11 posters ($18.00) for sale of the same.  So if you need a thing for the wall of your ice fishing shack... come get your poster this weekend.  

Sep 25, 2014

I chewed 20 pieces of Gum and thought I was going to die

I chewed 20 pieces of Gum and thought I was going to die.  Dad always brings over these bags of gum he gets at the Amish store.  They are delicious.  I like to chew them until the flavor is gone and then spit it out and get a new one. I can do this because I'm a grown-up.  I could add this to the list of fun things grown ups can do, but really eating a ton of candy until your belly hurts, is something a kid does.  That's what I did, only this time no adult said to me (including myself) you'll hurt yourself eating all that candy.  So I chewed about twenty pieces, one right after another.  Then my belly hurt like that time my appendix burst and I couldn't even move.  Being crunched over hurt, straightening out hurt, every move sent stabby pains deep into my gut and all I could do was sweat and say "ow ow ow ow ow." I thought I was poisoned.  I may have been poisoned - it's not real clear what's in a gumball.  My companion suggested I had gas, but I didn't, I wished that were the case.  I started to work out how I was going to crawl down the porch stairs and into the car for a ride to the ER where I would totally admit I chewed twenty gum-balls in a row and poisoned myself with Amish gum.  I wasn't even worried about being embarrassed - that's how much pain I was in.  Then I drank a glass of milk and felt slightly better - so I drank more milk and said markedly less 'ow's and eventually I stopped hurting.  I still like to chew a bunch of gum-balls in a row.  The same brand even.  I just try to limit myself to five.... and definitely no more than seven.

Sep 23, 2014

We don't want a hand up, or a hand out, we just need to be paid a fair wage for this hole we've been digging for you.

You've read the story... struggling adult doesn't know how she's going to make it until random stranger tips her $1,000.00 / until football player pays for the kid's operation / until anonymous angel buys her groceries / until undercover boss pays her house off and sends all the kids to college and gives her the first vacation in her life. It's a story that's supposed to warm your heart and make you feel great about humanity and inspire you to maybe pay it forward.  Get out there and give, change a life by throwing a couple hundred dollars at a  poor person, save someone from the brink of ruin.

I can't help it every time I read one of these stories I get seriously pissed off.  What about the millions of people who didn't get that magic windfall?

People should be able to work hard and pay for their own.  A bartender should be able to afford a few appliances, a waitress should be able to buy Christmas presents, but we now live in a society where basic needs can't be met by people who work their asses off.  People we see every day, the cashier, the gardener, the lady wiping the snot of your kid's nose at preschool. I'm supposed to be all choked up at the sudden un-freezing of Scrooge's tiny cold heart at the end of Undercover Boss - instead I am pissed that we are in a place where folks can't afford to buy their own house any more or afford to pay for schooling.

The people on the top get to feel good for throwing a few scraps to the people at the bottom and the people at the bottom are supposed to thank them and be ever so grateful for that angel who paid for their coffee and we area all supposed to clap and cheer about this heart-warming scene when instead we should ALL be outraged that not every American can afford coffee.

Please understand, I'm not trying to discourage charity or paying it forward, or big tippers, I'm just saying we should all be ashamed that are so many opportunities in this country to rescue. We should stop feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside when we read these stories and instead opt for frustration and outrage that the relief was needed at all.  A thousand dollars here, eighty thousand there... it's pennies barely missed falling from the top earners' wallets, into a vast bucket of need.  Working Americans need a bigger more permanent rescue than a nice tip or a tax credit, we need a living wage.

Sep 22, 2014

Pencil Bag to Wallet Bracelet Hack

1 Pencil Bag 
1 Piece of Velcro
1 Needle and thread to sew Velcro on. 

= 1 Zipping, bracelet that holds chapstick and money and locker key.  

Sep 18, 2014

Fight for 15

Whomever said don't cry over spilt milk obviously never had to make that milk, work thirty minutes minutes to buy it, or put a hungry baby to bed.

*As of 9/18/14 Gallon of Milk $4.05/Minimum Wage $8.25

Sep 16, 2014


“My Least Favorite Trope (and this post will include spoilers for The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Matrix, Western Civilization, and—cod help me—Bulletproof Monk*.) is the thing where there’s an awesome, smart, wonderful, powerful female character who by all rights ought to be the Chosen One and the hero of the movie, who is tasked with taking care of some generally ineffectual male character who is, for reasons of wish fulfillment, actually the person the film focuses on. She mentors him, she teaches him, and she inevitably becomes his girlfriend… and he gets the job she wanted: he gets to be the Chosen One even though she’s obviously far more qualified. And all he has to do to get it and deserve it is Man Up and Take Responsibility. And that’s it. Every god-damned time. The mere fact of naming the films above and naming the trope gives away the entire plot and character arc of every single movie.”

-Elizabeth Bear


Sep 12, 2014

I Turned the Heat On

I turned the heat on but I'm not ready for pumpkin lattes or using my oven. I'm not ready to start raking leafs into piles.  I don't want to pair up a hundred socks fresh and warm out of the dryer. I can't pay a heat bill and I don't know what I want to be for Halloween.  The recreational fires wafting from the backyards of the neighborhood are repugnant and I refuse to scrape the frost off my windshield.  I don't care where my voter id card is.  It's getting to dark too early.  The wool sweater I pulled over my head yesterday made my neck itch and I scratched until I was irritated.  Summer never quite got here this year.  It popped it's head in for a few days.  I said "Oh I'm so glad you are here, we were hoping to do some swimming." I welcomed and offered lemonade. I turned on the air conditioner but only for a few days and then summer was well on the way to the southern half on the planet when I desperately waved out the front door offering up my pale skin.

Sep 10, 2014

Oh the Pears

The pears are on sale this week, perfectly firm and juicy.
They must be respected when you hold them, if you are too rough you'll get sticky hands.
Yellow with specks of brown, they should be eaten today.  

Pears Art Print @ The Joy of Color Etsy Shop

Sep 8, 2014

The Sugars

One of the things I'm trying to do lately is give up some of the sugar in our lives.  Or at the very least be aware of when we are using it.  Like buying cereal with no sugar but then spooning some right onto it.  It seems less processed and less sneaky.  I've been reading labels like mad at the store and sugar or some other form of it

(corn syrup, 
beat sugar, 
agave nectar, 
barley malt, 
brown rice syrup, 
cane juice, 
corn sweetener, 
crystalline fructose, 
diastatic malt powder, 
ethyl moltol, 
high fructose corn syrup, 
rice bran syrup, 

is in EVERYTHING.  So I'm just shopping for things with one or two ingredients.  Not including bread and a few treat type things for the kids.  It's hard.  The kids aren't happy.  But they aren't going to starve.  There is plenty of food in there, just not what they want.  It's been a crabby week and the Nutella is gone already. Hopefully in a few more weeks, we'll all feel better.

Sep 7, 2014

Flowers for Algernon

Almost a decade ago my family bought our first robot; an iRobot Roomba.  We lived in a big open church-turned-house then, and I used to joke that cleaning the floors took a riding vacuum. We named him Algernon, which derived from the Normal-French soubriquet Aux Gernons, meaning "With Moustaches." He had these little sweepers on his underside that looked like twirly moustaches.  Dan asked for Algernon when we split up the household goods. I got the old fashioned vacuum.  I wonder sometimes if Algernon is ok, if he's still charging and whisking crumbles up off the floor at my exes house.  And that's hardly a thing I remember to ask when we speak on the phone; "Hey how's your vacuum? and your blender?" But I still wonder, because he was my first robot.

My second robot already named Siri was a gift one Christmas.  I didn't know I wanted a smart phone, but now I know I love having it.  I use it for all sorts of brain activity that smart humans used to have.  Like "which element is seventeenth on the periodic table?", "where's the nearest pharmacy?" and "what time are all the appointments in my whole life?"  I found that if I changed the voice of Siri to a man, I was more patient with his inability to understand my wicked mid-western accent.  Apparently I have more patience for dumb men than an uppity sounding dumb woman. I'm sure I should blame the patriarchy for that.

I watched perhaps one of the greatest robot marketing videos of all time this morning.  Or maybe I just love robots.  But I have a ton of questions before I order one of these.  Can I change his name? Does he have a motion detector? Can I program him to bark like a dog when the motion detector detects motion in the middle of the night? Would he talk to my Roomba (if I had a new one)  Can he play Simon Says? Can he help the kid with her homework without just giving her all the answers?  Can he track where all our i-devices are?  Can he do accounting and update my blog?  Can he live with a rambunctious and raucous family without getting his face broken? If his face gets broken how can I have him repaired?  Where's the robot doctor? Would he make my life $500.00 better?

Sep 5, 2014

Fight for 15

I support the fight for 15.

Not only are the fast food workers trying to strike and raise wages but the home health care workers have joined in and are trying to be a part of the union too.

52% of the families of front-line fast-food workers are enrolled in one or more public programs, (compared to 25% of the workforce as a whole.) The cost of public assistance to families of workers in the fast-food industry is nearly $7 billion per year.

96% of restaurant workers do not earn paid sick days, forcing 76% to work WHILE SICK.

 57.4% of low wage workers are over age 30


I don't care what you're doing at your job - if you think it's worth more and you want to band together and bargain for more... I am not you supervisor, I don't know what you do at work... I say good on you! You get more!   Because when you fight for the rights of the worker, you fight for us all.


"The only time you look in your neighbor's bowl is to make sure that they have enough." Louis (CK) Szekely


Hanging With The Girl-Kings Of One Of The World's Only Matriarchies

10 female revolutionaries they didn’t teach you in history class

Sep 4, 2014

Insomnia & Other Stuff

I gotta start getting more sleep.


Jack eats a ton of ice cream.  I can't seem to find a good brand that doesn't have a crap ton of sugar in it so yesterday I splurged and bought an ice cream maker.  I made the first batch last night without sugar.  The recipe was cream, milk, sugar, vanilla.  I made it with cream, milk, vanilla and a little tiny bit of honey.  It's not good.  Today I'll dish it out and spoon crumbled cookies and Nutella into it, stir it into a big chunky chocolaty mess and then reattempt.  I hope the children will try another bite after I jazz it up.


I'm tired of rain.


I volunteered to co-lead the kid's Girl Scout Troop.  It's a big troop, lots of giggly girls all talking at once.  I'm going to help lead the art badge activities.  It should be super fun.


I gotta start getting more sleep.

Sep 2, 2014

Sick Pirate

I have the cold Jack just got over.  It's not serious just icky and achy.  I'd like to sleep through it but there's a long list of things happening today, including treasure hunting.  My Dad is working on a salvage job at an old truck terminal. On the racks and racks of steel shelving he's taking apart and scrapping and inside the many semi-trailers sticking out from each side like appendages are the left overs of a hoarder extraordinaire who passed away.  I'm told the man bought out the remains of businesses gone under and resold what he could, what he couldn't was laid to rest there in the truck terminal.  I went last week to help dig through the mounds of dusty items in the offices and warehouse.  I found some old illustrations, lithograph gels and original paintings from the late 70s that I fell in love with and intend to get framed and install in our bedrooms; Sports illustrations for Jack's rooms, a Pegasus and Unicorn for Ella and Whales for me.  I'll post pictures when they are done.  I also managed to procure an old steel machinist's cart that I plan to clean up and put in the living room. It's pretty beat up and rusted and so I need to wash, sand and oil, maybe even paint it a tad before it comes to live here next to the computer, but it's pretty cool. (again picks to follow.)  I want to go back for a few picture frames and some reams of office paper today, so I need to borrow a truck.  All this in between a dentist appointment, a lunch date and preschool drop off and pick up and another construction call with my Dad. OR I could just call it all in sick and miss out on the lunch and the reams and the frames and pearly teeth and go back to bed.


I think the militarization of our domestic police force is dangerous for our citizens.  I'm against Rockford having a tank.  We have neither the funds nor the training to utilize nor maintain such a thing.  Sell it and turn the street lights back on.


Fall Art Scene deadline for artwork is just two weeks away and I want to do three new paintings before then. They're going to be wonderful.  I'm really stuck on the dusty palate of WPA art.  I feel like it matches not only my mood but my surroundings.  This is utilitarian, serious art.  Art made for working people.  It's not art for the sake of flinging haphazard party colors into your brain, it's art because it has to be.  I have to make it.

Sometimes I think about what it would be like to be a window or a sign painter and have everything hand made, hand drawn.  Remember the old number painter clips on Sesame Street? I think I really just wanted to grow up and do this.  Wildly finding a place to put an eight on my off hours. When I wasn't putting "Exit" or "Slow school" somewhere in the city.   I think making a lovely "Pork Chops .19 ¢/lb. " in red on a grocers window would be terrible zen for me; just as rewarding as painting "Little Red's Little Black Heart" and possibly easier to get paid for.  But, sign painters are gone.  Illustrators too, there are many artists in the collective I belong to who used to be illustrators.  They fondly talk about inking something perfectly one time and how fast they were and who they trained under and how many they could get done in a week and how meagerly they were paid.  These pieces I found in the truck terminal are the last remnants of hand painting original layout and velum overlays.  I want to keep it and frame it all.

I want to go back to when an artist was needed in daily life to paint murals and signs and numbers on random sunbather's heads.

Sep 1, 2014


I had to stop reading Dooce when Heather got pregnant with her second child and so did I but then I miss-carried.  I always thought of Leta and Ella as internet sisters and Heather's monthly letters to her were all the things I wish I'd written.  On a whim, I decided to hit her website again and was met with the beautiful smiling faces of her children.  Leta is starting 5th grade like my Ella and Marlo is a few years older than Jack but the dynamic between she and her older sister is adorable.  I scrolled down and down and saw Chuck the dog and the not so new dog Coco, but I didn't see John.  I paged through a few pages looking for his smile.  Looking for the transcribed banter between the two, I used to love to read and found none. I got worried. Is John ok? So I googled and found that they split last winter.  I clicked a few fan blogs and news sights to briefly read about what happened.  I have a sense of how it went down and I have concluded, I still can't read Dooce, but I may go ahead and follow John.

Aug 25, 2014

The End of a Good Summer

This first week of school is the hottest of all the summer.  We were waiting for this week so that we could go swimming up at the springs.  It was one of the last few things to cross off the list of 50 things to do this summer. So, no swimming in the icy blue water of Pearl Lake and for the 3rd straight year we were not able to hear any live yodeling.  Apparently it's just harder than you think to find a good yodeler in the summer.  We also did not roller skate outside due to the rampant growing of children's feet around here and we also never made it to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison.  Not too shabby for finishing a list.  Some of the highlights of what we DID do:

#25 Pee in the ocean. (Not pictured)

#8 Eat Something New


#5 Use the wagon #12 See a parade #6 Get up early

#17 Family painting


There were regular things like find a penny and roll down a hill, and there were regular things that will stick out to me forever now.  I put walk the dog on the list.  We hadn't been doing this very often any more because our dog was very old, 119 to be exact. She didn't really feel like walking much any more, she mostly just slept.  I had to lay her to rest over the weekend.  I'm glad we spent time with her. I'm glad she was on the list. There are so many things to say about a beloved dog of 17 years, but I'm not together really enough to say them yet.

This is Wednesday and Ella and Jack in the backyard.

It was a good summer.

Aug 13, 2014

Red's Little Black Heart

Temporary Public Art outside of Bennie's Cleaners in Rockford, IL.  This is part of Rockford's ART ATTACK series going on all summer.  This is one of three I've done down-town. The unofficial title is "Red's Little Black Heart", it's acrylic paint on glass.  

Jul 15, 2014

Freshwater Mermaids of North America

"Freshwater Mermaids of North America"  It's what I'm spending my summer working on and the show is Friday, August 1st, 2014.  These are sneak peak sketches of something I'm so obsessed with and it's so huge and awesome I'm dreaming about it.  The show is at 317 Market St. Rockford, IL and some of the prints will be available online later in the month.  

Immigrant Children in the Heartland

In direct contradiction to Davenport IA, Mayor Gluba's efforts to coalesce local agencies to welcome the fleeing immigrant children to the Quad Cities, Catholic Governer Terry Branstad (R) says "I do not want to house immigrant children in my state."  Seems Pope Francis who called for tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants to be "welcomed and protected," is yet again in opposition to the GOP platform.

Despite Senator Mark Kirk's (R) of IL implication that the refugees are gang members and other tiny unaccompanied criminals, Illinois has welcomed 429 unaccompanied children under her wings.  Senator Durbin (D) of IL says we "would want to adopt these children if you spent five minutes in the room with them,....They are lovely, beautiful little kids." Heartland Alliance in Chicago is in charge of placing and overseeing the care of the kids placed in IL.  I'm checking to see if there is anything even more local for people right here to do, I'll update when I know more.

Can you imagine sending your kid out into the dessert by themselves in hopes they find something better? How bad does something have to be before you'd do that?  We can't send these kids back to whatever it was.  This isn't what America is about.

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Jul 10, 2014

Restless Legs

I've been doing three miles on the elliptical machine at the YMCA.  I was so proud last month when I came in under 30 minutes, and last week right before they closed the cardio room for renovations I made it in 28:15.  I did the arms over my head celebration pose.  I felt mighty.  So now the cardio room is closed for a few weeks.  Yesterday I went to the track at my down-town Y, ready to run three miles in about thirty minutes.  Of course it was going to be easier because I wouldn't have to swing my arms all big and go uphill in intervals and sometimes backwards. Then, I hurt myself.  running.  Well, mostly running and sometimes just fast walking.  I did 2.5 miles in about thirty minutes and my shins are trying to leave my legs.  They want to go to Florida and retire in a nice little community of sunny yellow condos on the beach and hobble down to the water twice a day where they sit tiny little folding chairs and watch the stingrays flutter up on the beach looking for clams. And there's a tiny little muscle just next to my knee that is really pissed off right now and as a result keeps stabbing me in the leg when I go up the stairs and my hips whenever addressed look up sulkily and tell me to go fuck myself. I'm going to do it again tomorrow.

Jul 8, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday Jack

Jack turns four today.  He's a funny guy.  He never stops moving, not unless he's sleeping, and since he started talking, he does it almost non-stop.  He's curious and caring and adventurous and likes birds and worms and sports and painting and anything with wheels, and tools - especially hammers and nails and the color "lellow." He likes to dance, loves the beach and just discovered you can slide down the carpeted front hall stairs. I'm proud of him every day for wearing me out and making us all so happy.

Jul 7, 2014

Another Dear So and So Letter in which I Get to be Snide.

Dear Dude glaring at me while I use the only mat in the whole YMCA to stretch on after running two and a half miles on that awful machine I hate,

I will only be visiting while the down-town branch gets newer and better machines and then I won't be stretching my calves and other yoga bits on the mat you had planned on rubbing your balls up against for the next ten minutes.  Please stop glaring at the side of my head and just get your butt down here and your legs spread with your shorty shorts right next to me, there's plenty of room and really I can't stop what I'm doing to move on to the next thing or my legs will cramp up into horrendous knots of gristly, tangled, painful meat.  Also, you should get the disinfectant spray and wash your ball sweat off the mat when you're done so the next unsuspecting push-up doer from the down-town branch who doesn't realise this is your own personal mat available for only your ball rubbing use won't have to go nose down in your crotch funk.

The Slow Stretcher invading your space who will henceforth disinfect everything at the East branch before using it.

Jun 12, 2014

He Makes Me Laugh

"Mom, let me squish you're belly and see if you're funny." Jack age 3