Sunday, March 27, 2011

Before I Die

NO, I'm not planning on dying any time soon, but I am a lover of lists, so I thought I'd share my abbreviated bucket list. (I could fill pages, but I thought I might bore you).

·         Learn another language
·         Get an MFA in creative writing
·         See my kids fall in love
·         Adopt a child
·         Get a book published
·         Live on a farm
·         See my kids find their passion
·         Write a screenplay
·         Grow a garden that actually stays weeded
·         Take my mom on vacation
·         Learn to knit
·         Create a line of fabric
·         Illustrate a children’s book
·         Talk to my Dad one more time
·         Live in a two story house
·         Buy my husband a new car
·         Take a trip across the country
·         Learn to play an instrument (maybe the cello)
·         Paint in the south of France
·         Learn to cook (and like it)
·         Write in a journal every day for a year
·         Own a horse (and a goat, and chickens, and an alpaca, etc…)
·         Paint a mural
·         Take my kids to Disneyland
·         Make a stained glass window
·         Read all the Newbury Award winners
·         Make a mosaic
·         Invent a board game
·         Wear a ball gown to a party

What's on your list? 

Contest Winner

The winner of the First Day of Spring Contest is....(drumroll please)

Jennifer Morales George

Please contact me at my email with your address and the name of your favorite poster. You can check out my posters at Poems Art Inc.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Day of Spring Contest

In honor of spring and the promise of warm days, flowers and bare feet, one of you fair bloggers can win one of my prints published by Poems Art Inc.. Any print. You choose. 

It's easy to ENTER. All you have to do is blog, tweet, facebook or tell a friend about my contest (heck, you can even scream it from the rooftops if you want), anything to spread the word. Then just write me a message letting me know how you did it. The more ways you spread the word, the more times you'll be entered.**

The contest will end Sunday, March 27th. 

P.S. All you winners of past contests still need to contact me about your prizes. Please email me at

** Don't forget to leave a message to enter. Otherwise I won't know to put you in the drawing. You can leave a message here or send me an email.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Little Masterpiece

My dachshund turns her head up and looks at me with her brown eyes rolled back as if in ecstasy. They are the eyes of a Rubens or a Carvaggio, the Baroque  art movement alive in my lap, just begging for a tummy rub.
She’s not a normal dog. Sometimes I think she’s carries the residue of past lives. Before she came to live with me she may have been a showgirl in Vegas. I can imagine her in the feathered headdress, kicking her long human legs like a Rockette.  Isn’t it ironic how stubby those legs are now?
When she was a woman she must have lived a hard life, falling in love left and right with men that she met in line at the DMV or at the bowling alley, always searching for someone to love her.
I like to think that she’s found us, the people to adore her. Maybe that’s why she stares at us so lovingly, so longingly.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Me, Myself and I

Do you sometimes wonder if you’d be friends with yourself if there were two of you?
It’s true that I’m pretty shy when it comes to meeting new people and I’m pretty selfish with my time, but I kind of think I might like me if we met. For one thing, we’d definitely have the same interests and yes, maybe I’d annoy myself because I’m really good at starting projects and not as good at finishing them, but I think I could get over that.
Today as I was flipping through an old notebook I came across a small paragraph that I’d written a couple of years ago. I have no recollection of writing it. I have to admit that this does happen to me a lot. It’s almost like reading someone else’s words and it makes me laugh, and sometime makes me like myself a little more (YES, I am someone I’d like to be friends with, I say in those moments).
Here’s the funny little paragraph I stumbled across today:
A crack forms in the kitchen wall as we take out the kitchen counter. Through it we see a light, hear voices. Where did this other room come from? Who are these people living in it?
I’m totally going to have to turn that into some kind of story. But first I’ll have to ask myself if I’d like to be friends.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Cemetery

We drive past the markers and headstones entombed in silence.  The deer don’t mind the quiet. It’s what draws them here. They hide behind granite angels and graze on grass the color of their thick hides.
We keep the windows rolled up, not because we’re afraid of the air, the way I was as a child, holding my breath. We don’t want the life inside our vehicle to spill out into the cemetery: the music, the singing, the shouts and giggles.
We drive through on Sundays, not an homage to the day or even to the dead. We just like to drive the winding road through river birch and pine. A few trees here and there are knotted and dead, but beautiful, like these other remnants, left behind.
We spot the deer like hidden pictures, the black globes of their eyes shining, revealing.
Bury me here, I tell my husband. I like the idea of the deer keeping me company. It’s not frightening, not now that we’ve practiced coming here together.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I have an addiction.
No, I’m not talking about  sugar, although I could go for a handful of sour patch kids right now.  I’m talking about notebooks. Yes, notebooks.
I admit that I get all itchy and excited when I walk into an office supply store. Just think of all those unopened pens, all those blank pages waiting to be filled. It’s pretty difficult for me to pass up a cute notebook, although I am picky about the pages. It’s not as easy as you’d think to find ruled notebooks that don’t have way to much space between the lines. Sometimes I fall in love with a notebook only to find that the inside looks like it’s been ruled for my third grade daughter.
But every so often the fates align and I’ll find a notebook that’s just right, not too hot, not too cold. Oh, wait, that’s Goldilocks isn’t it? Well sometimes finding a good notebook feels like a fairytale.
I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I’ve never been known to fill up a whole book. Usually before I’m halfway through it I’ve found a new notebook to dote over. Or sometimes a new project just begs to have its own book. The result of my fickleness is a plethora of half filled notebooks stacked beneath my bedside table.
Just recently I was searching through one of my notebooks looking for some notes on a middle grade book that I’d started to outline a couple of years ago. I’m finally getting back to this book and I wanted to remind myself of the notes I’d already written while I was doing my plotting.
I didn’t realize all the little treasures inside my notebook. I couldn’t even remember writing half of the things inside those pages.
Here’s one of my favorite things that I found:
Linda settles the towel on her lap and takes my feet in her hands. She breathes in. Out. And smiles, a calm, reassuring balm. Already I can feel the energy in her hands as she starts in on the big toe. Moving her big thumb along the top by the toenail I can imagine my big toe to be the head that it represents. I can almost feel the pressure firm on my scalp.
Each pressure point presses distinctly. “What’s that?” I ask when the mark is tender.
Linda answers, “Your  eyes, your ears, your stomach, big intestine, ovaries.” Her Danish accent making these everyday parts seems lovely and important.
And I try to relax, allow that energy to finger its way up inside. Healing.
“You hold your worries here,” she says, pushing a spot near the tender arch on my sole.
Yes. My stomach houses all my anxieties. At night it is tight, plagued by indigestion. Where else would I store all those worries if not at the very core?
“You don’t need to press too hard,” Linda says. She holds her thumb over the tender spot, hardly pushing at all. She just lets it rest there as if to acknowledge the problem, but not to try to chase it away.
She is gentle with me, probably gentle with herself too and I wonder if this is something that I could do. Could I find the sore spot and then just rest there? Or would I press too hard? Do I want to feel the pain?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Favorite Book Contest #1

It's almost impossible to pick ONE favorite book, but I do have a number of them that land high up there at the top of my list. I'm sure that you'd agree with me that when you find something you love, you usually want to share it with everyone; that's why I decided to start "my favorite book contest". Over the next few months I'm going to be giving away my favorite books to some of you lucky blog readers.

The first book I chose was "A Map of the World" by Jane Hamilton. This book was the first book (that I read as an adult) that really made me want to be a writer. As a little girl I knew that I wanted to write books, but over the years I stopped dreaming about writing... until I read this book.

"A Map of the World" is heartbreaking and haunting and it has stayed with me for years and years.

If you would like to win a copy simply leave me a message with the name of one of your favorite books and I'll enter you to win.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, March 16th.

Congratulations Jamie

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random Acts of Coffee

A few weeks ago, for my mom’s birthday, she invited my son, Noah, and I to go see the play “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” with her. It was showing at the local community college and we assumed that we could just show up to buy our tickets the night of the show.
Well, we were wrong about that one. When we got there it was sold out, and the lobby was overflowing with groups of people, like us, who’d not planned ahead. We decided to put our names down on the waiting list just in case someone who’d purchased tickets didn’t show up to use their seats.
After waiting around for a half an hour it was finally time for the show to begin and the women at the ticket booth started calling out names from the waiting list. When our name was called we went up to buy our tickets. It turned out that we wouldn’t be able to sit together, but Noah said he didn’t mind sitting next to strangers.
Just as I was writing out a check for the tickets a man came to pick up the tickets he’d purchased earlier. “Sorry,” the woman told him, “You have to be here before the show starts. As soon as it begins we start selling tickets to the people on the waiting list.” She was not in a charitable mood and reminded him curtly that it was “the policy”.
I think we can all agree that it’s a stupid policy.
So basically I was standing there with my wallet open writing a check for the tickets that this man had already purchased (and wouldn’t get a refund for might I add). Needless to say, we let the man take our tickets (really his tickets) and we left.
It seems like a sad ending to my mom’s birthday, but we’d forgotten about the new birthday tradition she’d started the year before. The tradition is this: give a gift to someone else on your birthday. My mom already has everything she could want or need, so for a birthday gift to herself she decided to buy a gift certificate to give away to a deserving person.
Of course there are a million places we could have gone. Once you start thinking about handing out gifts to strangers your mind goes a little wild thinking of all the possibilities. But we ended up choosing the grocery store. We both shop there and could think of a few very kind cashiers who would definitely deserve a gift.
Armed with a gift certificate from the Olive Garden we made our way through the line. My mom paid for the gift card and then handed it over to a very befuddled cashier who came out from behind the counter to give us all a hug.
Yesterday at the store I happened to choose this same cashier and I was surprised that she recognized me from that night. It turns out that it had been her lucky night that night. Not only had we given her the gift certificate, but another woman had come through her line and had gotten her a coffee from Starbucks.
Why don’t I do that? I asked myself. It doesn’t have to be something huge. A cup of coffee, I can do that, just a little something nice to brighten someone’s day. So starting today I’m going to try to find a random person each week to do something nice for.
Hmm, who am I going to pick first?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Buying the Farm

The photograph on my computer’s desktop changes every few months. No, it’s not a cute picture of my kids standing next to each other on the sledding hill or our dog sitting on the couch with his ears perked up. It’s not even a picture from our trip to the Oregon Coast last summer. Nope. It’s a picture of my farm.

You have a farm? You might ask me. No silly, I don’t HAVE farm. I WANT a farm.
Yes, this is a little obsession of mine; dreaming about the farm that I’ll someday live on. Friends of mine who have actually lived on farms like to remind me that it is A LOT of hard work, to which I like to reply: “but I have my husband to do all that”. Poor Bryan, even in my imagination he gets stuck with all the grunt work.
It’s not really that I want a working farm. I don’t care so much about growing things. (This is a good thing coming from someone who ends up with a three zucchinis, one and a half tomatoes and a garden full of weeds by the end of the planting season.)
The thing that I dream of is the land. I want rolling hills and a stream that feeds into a little pond. I want to look out over pastures at a distant tree line. I want a long driveway lined with trees that I can walk down in the summer. And of course I want the animals: chickens and goats and horses and maybe even a pig.
Maybe my poor imagination has been filled with too many lovely images from James Taylor songs and books like “Gone with the Wind”, or maybe growing up down a little wooded lane by the river infused me with the desire to live surrounded by that kind of beauty.
I grew up playing in the stream by our house, dragging rocks through the cold water to build dams. I grew up clearing patches in the scrub oak that I turned into little rooms to live in. I dug holes and picked wild flowers and searched for treasure among the rocks.
The funny thing is, I really do love living in a neighborhood. Growing up I missed out on having friends next door, on sidewalks and being able to walk to school. I love that my kids have these things. But we also have a little gully at the end of the street where we like to take the kids sledding during the winter and whenever I go down there I get the itch for my farm. I want my own land, my own sledding hill, my own field of wild grass and milkweed.
So sometimes I waste hours looking at Land and Farm for the perfect place. I save properties in my favorites bar and go to visit them now and again.
Maybe someday I’ll buy the farm (ha ha won’t we all). But for now I’ll just keep dreaming.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

I love watching the Academy Awards!
Yes, a lot of it has to do with those amazing dresses, but mostly love the chance to daydream about what it would be like to work in the film industry. Did I mention yet that I’d like to be a: screenwriter… or an animator… or a costume designer… or a set designer…
I often come out of the movies certain that I’m going to switch careers. In the dark parking lot I can be found professing my love to this new passion. After seeing Tangled at Christmastime I was sure that I needed to be an animator. No really, this time I would do it. Sure, I’ve wanted to be an animator ever since we got Finding Nemo on DVD and I couldn’t stop watching the special features. But this time I was SERIOUS.
When I went to Alice in Wonderland I was so consumed with the costumes that I had trouble concentrating on the story. I mean, did you see that dress that Alice was wearing when she fell down the hole? What about the pale blue jacket she wore at the White Queen’s castle? Well certainly you noticed the pinking around the collar of the jacket that she wore in the last scene on the boat. (See what I mean?)
I’ve been begging friends and family for years to write a screenplay with me. If I have my way it will probably have something to do with time travel or alternate universes. But don’t get me wrong, I’m totally open to suggestion. Really! Call me and we’ll talk about it.
Sometimes over dinner I try to talk my kids into writing a movie with me. How fun would that be? I have it all envisioned, our family brainstorming ideas over lasagna, the brilliant plot twists that will pop into the kids’ minds as they brush their teeth before bed, the weekends spent around the kitchen table writing.
Well, it turns out that I’m really the only one that thinks this is a grand idea. Everyone else would rather  go skiing or make houses out of popsicle stick or practice the guitar or cut their toenails (really anything is preferable to writing a movie it seems).
Oh well…
I guess I won’t be picking out my Oscar gown any time soon.