One of the Other Handy Things about Slowness

Photo: Nocturnes & Lullabies, Book CoverThe gradual approach to the making of my art-and-poetry books means that, while the process itself is invisible to the naked eye and makes it look pretty much like I’m sitting around twiddling my thumbs for years at a time, I have built up quite an inventory of miscible ingredients for the non-nefarious sort of book-cookery. So I have another book ‘going live’ on my button-push today (a little gift to myself, admittedly): Nocturnes & Lullabies (poems of nighttime set with my landscape photography). And I have one in proof-production that is of songs and dances and romances, A Wanderer Wearing Art-Colored Glasses, expected to go live before we’re well into the new year.

And I have about four more in current process, not to mention a good handful of others on the docket to follow. This isn’t meant by any means to be a cheap stunt, but is merely the latest expression of my lifelong approach to creative endeavors. Collect: ideas, info, little bits of practice and revisions of them. Do more research, writing, rewriting, art-making, and photo taking. Collect some more. Do some more. Put all of the collections and doings into digital files so that they can be combined, rearranged, edited, and further refined until they begin to coalesce into another recognizable book.

That latter step becomes smoother not only as I get the hang of the various publishing templates that allow me to manipulate the content to my taste and satisfaction but, more especially, as I have been looking at and revising my writings and visual images over the years. Among the hundreds and thousands of texts and pictures are some that begin to stand out, to interact in their files, to show affinities that lead me to combine them and refine them in new ways, and eventually, to become what might be the next book or project idea.

Meanwhile, besides that I continue to have a daily life where sleeping, eating, keeping house, and having social or other obligations, there are other kinds of projects brewing in their own ways and at their own pace. I haven’t had a gallery or other-venue showing of my artwork in a long time, and am getting the itch again, so I think I need to set one up for a time within the coming year to motivate myself to be newly productive in some of my favorite media. I even have a few thoughts about inventions of various kinds that I think might be worth exploring for practical application.

But all of this is still so much fancy and fantasy unless I continue to (a) keep current with the aforementioned daily tasks of living, and (b) plug along with the book projects as much as I’m able. For now, I’m happy to have gotten another baby up and running, and hope you’ll have a look at this latest of my petite coffee-table books and enjoy reading and looking at it as much as I’ve enjoyed incubating and producing all of them. Cheers!

Slow and Steady Gets Books Written

It seems to take me forever, but generally speaking, I do eventually work to finish up my plans. Some of them I even manage to accomplish in reality, not merely simmer internally until they’re fully formed imaginings. Another book, for example, that has finally hatched.

Photo: Hot Flash Fiction (photo credit: Blurb.com)

The newest baby from a past-childbearing-aged person….

Hot Flash Fiction is coming your way.

Yep. I have completed another book, and there are several more in the proverbial pipeline. This one, of course, joins its predecessor Miss Kitty’s Fabulous Emporium (Vol. 1), which is still conveniently available at Amazon, and the new book, Hot Flash Fiction, will be for sale both at Blurb.com and Amazon as soon as it ‘goes live’—I’ve submitted the posting materials and only await the gnomic decree from Amazon to finalize the book’s availability. While MKFE-1 is only available in soft cover/paperback, it has hundreds of poems and graphite drawings. Now that I’m going full-color and making the new book available in both paperback and hard cover versions, it is necessary to keep the book shorter in order to make it affordable enough to be worth my while (and yours!), but then I think a shorter book, since this one is dedicated to ultra-short fiction, is entirely apropos. And I’m pleased with the rich color and crisp details of the print. I think you will be, too.

MKFE-1 (photo credit: Amazon.com)

The one that started it all.

Hot Flash Fiction is a collection of tales with tiny twists, terrible turns, and ticklish tidbits everywhere you look, both in their texts and illustrations. A jot of the ridiculous here, a dot of the delirious there—from science fiction to steampunk, from romantic follies to childish fancies, from cradle to grave and back again, it’s all squeezed into the compact form of exceedingly brief flash fiction. The illustrations, collages of my photographs interwoven with vintage finds and digitally drawn and painted elements into complex treasure-maps to enhance the stories, are a complete turn-about from the entirely hand-drawn black and white images of MKFE, but merely reflect another aspect of my many visual loves.

I look forward to returning with somewhat greater frequency to this blog in the year ahead, but am working in the meanwhile to put together yet more and further different books, so I shall leave you for now with this invitation to dive into these two while the others are still in their formative stages. Happy reading, image-gazing, and most of all, a happy autumn to you all!

Oh—and lest you think I’ve been lounging around listlessly while not posting and only writing books of my poetry and short fiction and art, I have also produced, with the help of a nice company in France called BlookUp, the first of a series of books documenting this blog. Which, I suppose, is yet another book of my poetry and short fiction and art. Never mind! But in case you’re interested, Art-Colored Glasses is now available, too. I recommend the e-book version of that one, because it’s printed on lovely glossy paper in full color and loaded with content, so it’s expensive. But pretty darn entertaining, too, for all that.

Photo: Art-Colored Glasses 1

Book 1 of my blog-documenting series, Art-Colored Glasses. With a Certain Someone silhouetted on the cover, no less.

Back to Work—but First, a Pause for Plain Old Happiness

It’s strange, this mysterious netherworld between having produced and published a post a day every single day for 4+ years and now trying to find a footing in the more sporadic presence of blogging only when I have the time! I will figure it out, no doubt. But for now, I’m feeling my way in the dark, it seems.

Okay, I’ve not been utterly inactive elsewhere while not posting consistently. Continuing the detailed work of settling into our new home keeps me doing small projects of all sorts as I figure out precisely how we’ll use the spaces and the things in them, and what might enhance the usefulness or appearance, or better yet, both, of everything here. Life goes on with its usual flurries of school and home office work, hosting various visiting friends at mealtimes, break times, and/or overnight times, and tending to the business of a semi-normal schedule, albeit a surprisingly full one.

And I do find or steal time to play when I can, taking outdoor walks or just wandering up and down the aisles of the grocery store without a plan when I go to stock the pantry and refrigerator, stopping to scrawl a poem or jot a drawing idea. All good. Not to mention that a body’s got to eat, so I do whip up the occasional actual meal, especially if I’m dining with my husband and other friends. Oh, and I’m actively working on my next book or two or ten. And some song lyrics. And finally adding some new stuff to my Zazzle store, which has lain neglected for too long without new merchandise designs. And I’ve been slowly developing yet other, still unnamed and undisclosed, arty projects. I’m not just lying about in my expensive silk-embroidered negligee and eating Belgian chocolate truffles while a harpist plays softly in the corner of my palatial living room.

Though of course that takes approximately 72% of my time, on an average day.

Today, especially, I must take occasional breaks from that normal activity in order to show proper respect for the fact that this date marks the anniversary of my father’s first glorious appearance on this earth. Happy Birthday, Dad! During my commemorative pauses, I am reminded that I have always had before me the example of a very busy, highly productive, and multifaceted guy in my father, one who scarcely took visible breaks himself during his official working years from doing, learning, and attempting a wide variety of amazing feats. So if I have what feels like relatively little time for fiddling around pointlessly or I think I’m a bit overwhelmed by the range of things I’m wanting or needing to accomplish, I am glad to remember that I have grown up in the shade of one who still manages, after years of gaining expertise in the art, to Get Things Done on an impressive level.

And, more importantly in my book, who does so with great good humor and a remarkable ability to find the pleasure and positive aspects in whatever he’s undertaking. Something any of us would do well to learn long before we meet the other sort of undertaker.

Yeah, I’ll get back to my own chores and tasks pretty soon, because I do want to get a thing or two done before my time is up, but there are some more important sorts of items than just what lurks on the to-do lists, like remembering my father on his birthday. Dad, I hope you’re having a superb day, whether it’s spent in high gear Getting Things Done or is a welcome break spent lounging around in your own palatial spot with the aforementioned truffles and sweet serenading as your constant atmospheric enhancements. You are still a fine standard-bearer for the life well lived, and I thank you for it!Photo: Happy Birthday, Dad

Like Clockwork

Don’t you love it when things go smoothly? Even when the means are antiquated—say, when the person involved is kind of, no, extremely low tech—it’s rewarding when the plot in hand goes just as planned, or even better. Clearly, this is somewhat rare, or it wouldn’t be a big deal; nothing about ticking along at speed without a hitch would be memorable.
Digital montage from photos: Mighty Machines

But it is. And we do have technology, however old-school, to thank much of the time. I’m no expert, but I am thankful to have so many handy props for getting the job done, and I hold in reverence the invention and creativity that make my life easier and more pleasant even when I don’t know the cogs are turning behind the scenes to make it all possible.

Holding My Breath

When things get crazy, it’s time to stop. I’ve said it many times before, and I will surely have endless occasions to say it again, but more important is that I do it.

Being immobilized by the lack of internet access for a while is perhaps a good start, but given the current schedule of overlapping work, travel, home relocation tasks, and a fair number of surprise interjections, I know that I will need to take every little momentary jot of rest and refreshment I can get. It’s 10:30 p.m. and I’ve just sat down after the evening’s part of the work that started in earnest about 12 hours ago. I know that there will be longer days ahead, many of them. I know that other people do intensely hard work for much longer days on a regular basis, and for less reward. And I also know my own limits.

My brain is abuzz, my muscles flagging, and most of all, I am reduced to a fuzzy and quite unfocused state that prevents much more productive work before bedtime. Since there’s an appraiser coming to inspect the house at 8 tomorrow morning (and you all know full well that I am among the least morning-friendly of creatures), I know it’s time to accept the state of the house as tidy and dolled up enough for his or her inspection—or else. Can’t make Neuschwanstein out of El Rancho Ordinario, nor should I. False advertising aside, it’s not the right character for a simple and happy family home. (Ask Mad Ludwig’s ghost, if you like.) So I’ll get up in the morning, however reluctantly, and get out of the inspector’s way, believing I’ve done as much as I can and should, and I’ll let the results of the day’s efforts speak for themselves. And then come back and undo all of them for the next inspection, the arrival of the estate sale manager at 10 a.m.

But right now, I am preparing my mind and body for as restful a night as I can conjure, and it begins, yes, ironically enough, it starts with stopping. Letting go of all the undone, poorly done, or yet-to-be-done stuff and silencing my mind. Letting myself drift toward peace and calm as though I’d dived into deep, clear, soothing seas and the water buoys me and shuts out the visual and voluble wildness of the day just past and those yet to come. I’ll sing myself to sleep with a little whale song, perhaps, but mostly, I will gladly let go of the need to rant and pant and wrestle, and I will return to life as refreshed as if I had a good long soar through the depths, if I can manage it, because that will make the next day’s work survivable in so many more ways.Photo: It's Not a Fluke

Industrial Strength

Most people, when they travel, keep their eyes open for famous sites and sights, or at least, spend their attentions on pretty and unusual things. Me, I love that stuff too, but I’m also intrigued by how other people in other places treat the things that are ordinary, plain, familiar, commonplace. Industrial zones are a great place to see such commonalities in abundance. Since I’m intrigued, as well, by decay and rusticity and quirky, strange shapes and conglomerations, the regions of manufacture and shipping and blue-collar labor are also a great treasure trove of images, both visual and imagined.

Herewith, a few of the photos I shot this summer while wandering in that particular mode.

Photo: Industrial Strength 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Foodie Tuesday: American Pizza Party

When company’s coming and it’s not supposed to be a fussy occasion, I’m not going to be one of those hosts slaving in the kitchen and trying to pretend perfection. I would much rather spend my energies on getting edible, uncomplicated food on the table and either being with the guests or, as was the case the other night, getting out of the way of my spouse’s dinner meeting so I could enjoy reading in peace while I ate my own dinner in the other room. The people in attendance at the dinner meeting could talk business and be casual and not concern themselves with etiquette or entertaining me—or I, them—and I could even relax a bit after fixing dinner.

Pizza, in the American style, is an easy choice on such occasions. This time around, I didn’t have any guests requiring any particular dietary care: no gluten-free needs, no vegans, no special religious occasions being observed, and so forth. I didn’t have any unusual worries about any formalities. Simplicity and ease of serving were a bigger deal than being distinguished or fancy in any way, and setting up so the meeting group could take care of their own food and drink once it was served was the obvious solution. Around here, that means being able to eat without utensils if we like, and helping ourselves when we want more. Pizza. Drinks. Fruit and vegetables already cut up and served cold, with a couple of dipping sauces in case anybody wants. Lots of paper towels or serviettes or cloth napkins, whatever’s available.

Did I mention pizza?Photo montage + text: Pizza Party

And while I could fiddle around and make homemade crust, I’m kind of too old and lazy for that anymore. Horrifying, I know. You can shun me. Or you can enjoy making your own pizza crust, or hey, just join in and buy store-bought dough and save yourself a little time. I won’t even judge you if you order delivered, ready-made pizza. I just got in the mood to do my own toppings this time. So that was the only fuss I made. I let the grocery store do all of the fruit and vegetable peeling and cutting and plating in those chintzy little plastic trays, and was quite content. The pre-made pizza dough bought from the refrigerated case at the store was good enough for me, and one of the guys at the meeting even asked me if I had made it, and I didn’t lie. Credit where it’s due.

For the veg, a dip made of blended cottage cheese and whole milk yogurt (equal parts or so) seasoned with dill, thyme, salt, and smoked paprika, and a pinch of cayenne. For the fruits, a sauce of caramel—brown sugar melted in butter, with a pinch of salt, and in place of the usual cream, more yogurt. And a big hit of good quality cinnamon, for this batch. Mixed nuts and individually wrapped candies and chocolates. Cold drinks. Good friends and colleagues, and big ideas floating all around. Satisfying sustenance.Photo: Pizza Buffet