‘Today has been canceled. Due to bad weather’

This was the Facebook status of my friend Dave (who is also my trusty flute-maker) and it cracked me up. Indeed, things came to a bit of a halt this weekend with an ice-storm that hit friday evening. We were celebrating the life and spirit of our friend Esme (friday would have been her 16th birthday) and we needed to get home earlier than expected to out run the ice.

We’ve had some damaging ice storms in the past, living as we do in the borderlands of weather. (Not quite north, not quite south) and this one was not a damaging doozy but it was slick and beautiful and it shut down the city for the better part of Saturday. And so we gained the gift of time. Time to make some crafties, time to notice how gorgeous things are when covered in ice. Just time. It’s been nice.

I went out both yesterday and today to gather photos.  Yesterday was truly icy and I stayed close to home.  Everything was covered in a sheet of glistening ice…

By late Saturday, we were able to escape the boundaries of home and were treated to a show of Jazz music at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club, a Cincinnati legend, where my son and some of his musical cohorts have managed to get the recurring gig of Opening Act (6-8 pm) for Saturday night headliners.  These talented kids put on quite a show and I know we’ll be back for more.  If you are local to our town, I highly recommend you check out the music at Blue Wisp.  And now they are in a new location and have a full service kitchen in the works!!

So the ice continued into this morning.  Not so bad, but still somewhat treacherous.  Iris and I ventured out into the neighborhood to check out what the ice and fog had to offer.  We were treated with magic.

A good time was had by all.  Everything was drippy and wet and cold.  We stopped for a bit to watch the miracle of water flowing under ice…

When not out gallivanting in the ice and wet and cold, I was indoors, sipping warm water and making a few things. One such project is a set of linen napkins upon which I printed some black bird silhouettes. Using freezer paper as a stencil, and simple acrylic paint for the image, I think they turned out quite nicely…

I hope the chill of winter is offering you some adventure and beauty to behold…..

Back to Center

During the past couple of weeks I spent the better part of most days working up the show Hansel and Gretel, as performed by the Frisch Marionettes.  We had a hired rehearsal space at a local community center and hammered out the choreographed details of the show to prepare for what was my first public performance.  Rehearsals are very much an on sort of thing and while I enjoyed it immensely, I found it utterly exhausting.  At one point I admitted that I am not really a performer, per se, and that I find the notion of working for an audience rather daunting.  That begs the question, then why take a job where a big part of it is performing??? My answer to that is the puppets.  I love bringing life to puppets in the spirit of play.  I love having the opportunity to play with these animated sculptures and to give them personality.  I enjoy hanging around with good art and talented artists.  Performing shall be part of this and that is that.  Our first show together went just fine.  We had a wildly cabin-fevered crowd of nearly 300 and I survived the first show jitters.  I’m sure as each show passes, I’ll get more and more comfortable, and the spirit of play I enjoy so much in puppeting will be more and more present.  I love my new job.

Meanwhile, my other jobs continue….

There is a local shop interested in possibly carrying the terrariums I’ve recently put together (I shall let you know as soon as they are available!) and so this morning I took the opportunity to gather some more moss from the back 40 before the temperatures plummet once again.  Juicy juicy juicy!!!!

Yesterday was the deadline for registration for the sketch-journal trip to Taos, NM in June and we have a cozy crew of 8 folks signed on to take this amazing journey with me.  We shall be spending the Summer Solstice there and so there will be much talk of celebrating the longest, lightest day of the year with art and friendship under the clear blue high mountain desert sky.

All of that said, if you are reading this just now and thinking, ‘DANG IT! I missed the deadline!!!’, or ‘man, I wish I lived in Cincinnati and could go to this class!’, well fear not.  First off, you don’t have to live here in Cincinnati to take part in this opportunity.  You can meet us there for the Taos part and I can work with you online/ via phone for the lead up classes….  And, I think I could squeeze ya in past the deadline if you email me that you are interested.  We have a few slots left…..

Special thanks to some of my past students who went out of their way to pass around this opportunity.  Linda posted this on Facebook.  She neglected to mention that her professional photographs of our 2011 trip are stunning and can be found HERE. They are beautiful!!

I am so excited to have flights booked and dates set for this workshop.  It’s incredible and inspiring to me that even in the midst of a struggling economy, people are willing to invest in their own journey toward creativity and the individualization of a magical travel experience.  I do not take this lightly and have wonderful exercises planned for our time in Taos….

But for now, Taos seems a million miles away.  It is raining buckets (again) in our little river valley and we are due for more cold by the end of the day.  The notion of a sunburn feels ludicrous.  It’s a good time of year to hunker down with some soup and embroidery and find my center.  Wishing the same to you….

Grace Under Pressure…




Aside from my family’s foray south for the 2011 New Year’s eve this time last year, there is somewhat of a tradition round these parts to gather together to play music on the final night of the year and to ring in the New Year with tunes and friendship.  And so we did.  There was much singing of silly songs.

And the playing of many, many tunes.

There were loads of Norwegian Dragons in attendance.  They wowed us with their fierce mystery and artful presence.

A good time was had my all until the wee hours of the musical morning.  What a way to spend the first precious hours of 2012.


After some much needed sleep, it was time for yet another gathering.  This time with a few fellow artists to celebrate a birthday (or two), to make some art and put together some traditional tamales.  New Mexico style.  Becky, of St. Theresa’s Textile Trove fame led us in this culinary adventure which is not for the faint of heart.  Tamales are an arduous process involving the creation of numerous basic ingredients from scratch.  And so we began….

We roasted hot chilies.  And steamed them in bags.  And washed them and sliced them into strips….

Becky made the sauce.  Red magical goodness that must truly be a Gift from the Tamale Gods Themselves.

She then led us in the mashing of the Masa….  I haven’t tasted corn this fresh and delicious since I was a little child in Guatemala.  The taste and smell triggered many memories….

We nibbled on Lisa’s fresh guacamole while we labored…

The dogs slinked around the edges of the kitchen just hoping for some of the meat to fall in their direction.  I think the presence of at least one dog, maybe two, is crucial to good energy in a kitchen.

(side note: I was the happy recipient of two skeins of Prince fiber, dyed in poke berry.  Prince Himself is in the photo above.  And below is the yarn.  What a gorgeous gift!!!)

And then there is Cas, with his magical one-blue-eye gaze.

But back to tamales….

We donned pretty aprons.

And continued the tedious preparation.

Eventually, it was time to roll…. first the masa.

…next some sauce (will you look at the color of that sauce!!!) and filling which includes meats, roasted veggies and all kinds of cheeses.

We rolled and rolled.  And tied and tied.  We placed a lucky olive in the middle of each tamale.

Sometimes it got a little messy.  But soon we had a batch ready for the long steam in the big steam pot.

And we had some time to make some art…

Here’s Honey’s beautiful drawing:

And Diane‘s lovely constellation painting…

And one from Lisa too.

To be surrounded for a day by artists is food for the soul.  But we also need food for the body… here’s a tamale, just opened, perfectly steamed and ready to eat.  So eat we did!!

And we celebrated the New Year.  And Lisa’s birthday.  The cake is from Eclecti Kuchen.  As Becky so aptly put it, the cake was the ‘best fu*&1ng cake we ever tasted’.  It really was….

Red velvet.  Citrus cream frosting.  Candied lime and orange.  The expletive was well deserved.

And so now we are in 2012, with all the gifts in store.  Like a present, waiting to be opened.  I am truly fortunate to be a part of such a rich community of artists, musicians, culinary brilliants, friends and family.

Best wishes to you, my online community, as you venture forth into this New year ahead.  For me there are more instruments to work on, puppets to enliven, drawings to make, artists to encourage.  I am excited share it all here with you.  Cheers! And Peace to your 2012.