Friday, December 30, 2005

Things to do in the coming year

  • Paint

  • Get to work on sculpting. I've procrastinated enough - plus I have new toys to play with. (Dremel is a wonderful thing.)

  • Not to have any reasons to utter the phrase, "Oh, and by the way, here's the bill where my ass exploded!" (bonus points if you know the source of that quote!)

  • Post my work on Deviant Art

  • Sell said work.

  • Get back on even ground about spirituality? one person cult of personality with the mad, mad vibes?

  • Remember not to get too caught up in my head (it can be scary in there) and just enjoy the freakiness that can occur outside of it.

Oh all right

I'll admit it: I have done so little today, sloths could tell me to eat their dust. I am still recovering from the holidays and I have not painted one lick since I finished those three paintings. I'm about to go crazy (-er?) so tomorrow, it's back to the studio.

I've got ideas for two more paintings simmering in the back of my head. Both of them, for whatever reason, are themes on Ancient Egyptian mythology.

One is Khnum (I hope I'm getting it close when I say, "num.") Not only is he a primal god who controlled the flooding of the Nile but he is said to be one of the oldest gods in the pantheon, who created both gods and men on his potter's wheel. How cool is that: an actual representation of god as artist?

The other painting is of Horus but that's about all I have at this point, other than I want to do these paintings from a southern point of view. What that means, I have no idea - Horus with the head of a red tailed hawk instead of a native Egyptian Saker falcon? Khnum depicted with the head of a goat found in this area, like the painting a few entries back? (Actually, I like that idea.) Hell, I may even plant a RC cola and a moonpie on the floor near Khnum's, not really.

I'm also getting this little mental thing that keeps saying, "It's time to do those Tarot cards." That could get interesting, especially since I only have a very basic knowledge - not even a working knowledge- of what's in them. I don't even know what theme to use on them. Oh yeah, that's going to be a real effective bunch of Tarot cards.

Because I'm a completist

Here are the other two paintings I did for holiday gifts.

This painting gave me fits until the very end. Most of the fits involved trying to make all that "black" and "white" look more like a dog instead of vague blobs on a board. I very nearly drop-kicked it all the way across the property and back. I took a trip to Nashville instead. I guess it worked.

This was one of those very rare paintings: I had the feeling that it painted itself. I truly felt as if I were a bystander, just watching it happen. It was great, even if his nose came a little too close to the edge of the board.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Clues that you've invited a Goth to Christmas

1. While walking by the TV as a show about marine life plays, the Goth (also known as Azra) says, "A sea krait! PRETTY!!!!"

2. Later, after sitting down to watch the same show:
Narrator: "...most people don't know that octopus are poisonous but it not deadly..."
Goth: "WOW! A poisonous octopus? How cool is that?!"

3. During a conversation about a local funeral home that is now a church:
"You know that Alexander's funeral home in Westmoreland went out, didn't you?"
"No, I didn't hear anything about that."
"Yeah, it's a church now."
"Well, lord, I wouldn't want to go to that church. I'd be thinking about all the dead bodies that had been in the funeral home."

Goth: "Actually, that would be a selling point for me."

Yes, people. This is how the Christmas gathering went this year. I have cemented my reputation once again as the strange one of the family.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Just a quick note...


Sorry things have been quiet for the last few days. I've been painting furiously - two are down and the third will be done tomorrow or Tuesday.

I feel like I'm three different people when it comes to these paintings. None of them have been painted in the same way. One is heavily textured, one is portrait style with very small brushstrokes and the third is shaping up to be fairly loose and informal. Perhaps this is just a good way of letting my unknown-until-now multiple personalities to speak up for themselves.

So...the main thing I wanted to say is that even though I decided to start something new (The Infinite Number of Things) early, it may be a few more days before I post another entry. I still have a few more things to finish up. See y'all in a bit.

An infinite number of things about me

Some folks out in the blog-o-sphere have been posting "100 Things," a list of little tidbits about themselves. Well, weirdo that I am, I decided to not limit myself to a hundred. Mainly, it's because I know I would never finish a list like that and I'd probably feel like such a failure. This way, I can just have fun with it. So, let's start with number one, shall we?

1. Hello. My name is Azra and I'm a collector.

Let me say right now that I don't collect just any old thing. I like to think I'm fairly discriminating about what I collect. Sometimes though...well, once or twice (I swear! That's all!) I have been that person at the flea market whose voice goes up three octaves when they find something unexpected: "Oh look. It's a 1950's Era Breyer, using the Arabian mare mold and it's ONLYTENDOLLARSOHMYGODIHAVETOHAVEITAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!"

Here are my collections:

      Horses - I have collected horses since I was a kid. My very first one was the Breyer model of Walter Farley's The Black, based on the movie with Cass Ole'. (Yep - I remember the horse's name that played The Black but not the kid who played Alec!) I have between 200-300 horses now, about 95% of them Breyers.

      Books - It seems to be a rare day for me to go out and not come back with a few books. A good number of them (maybe one third or half) deal with magick, Paganism, Shamanism, herbs or some sort of esoteric subject. The rest deal with art, how-to, biographies, fiction and sci-fi. I keep threatening to have to buy another house, just for my books. I guess I have at least five hundred, maybe closer to a thousand. I don't know.

      Rocks and fossils - this is the "cheapest" collection I have and another I have kept since I was a kid. They are all locally found, mostly from the Fort Payne formation. I have a few I found in other places - Wilson and Trousdale counties and Nashville. A ton of what can be found around here are crinoids. They're everywhere, although they aren't as nice as the ones on the linked page. What you mainly find here are stem sections. Corals are fairly easy to find too.

Anybody else out there collect stuff?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This moment

There is a halo around the moon and there is a thin line of frost on my clothes where they hang across the line. I take them down anyway, followed by the line itself. It's supposed to rain in a few hours.

I carry my clothes in their willow basket to the truck where the week's groceries wait. They need to be sorted - which bags go in? What needs to be refrigerated? Where's that framing wire and the eye-holed screws? They need to go to the studio so I can wire those three paintings...

That's when it hits me. All the big looming questions - "Am I doing the right thing with my life? Have I lost my faith or was it real to begin with? Am I just crazy and refusing to admit it?" - are gone, wiped clean as if they never existed. Right now, in this very moment, I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do.

I am content. There is a halo around the moon.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


HEADLINE: Sumner County woman rescued
BYLINE: Joannie Snigglebotham, contributing editor

A Sumner County woman had to rescued today by her local Volunteer Fire Department. The woman, Azra, had somehow became entangled while trying to get out of a pair of overalls. Neighbors heard the woman's cries for help and called the fire department.

"We are still investigating what exactly happened," said Mark Malone, the chief of the volunteer fire department. "At first, we thought we had walked in on some kind of bizarre crime scene. Somehow, Ms. Azra got hopelessly entwined in a pair of overalls. We even had to remove the door to the room she was in. We don't know how the strap got knotted around the doorknob or how one leg got wrapped around the base of the sink. We are particularly interested in discovering how the other strap got tied around the light fixture, which is in a seven foot ceiling. The one thing we know for sure is that Ms. Azra has a great set of lungs. Her nearest neighbor is several hundred yards away."

Ms. Azra is resting in the Sumner County Regional Medical Center, where she was admitted for observation. When asked about the incident, the only statement she was willing to make was, "How embarrassing."

One thing I've learned...

Here is a life lesson:

If you're going to be in a hurry, don't wear overalls. Either that, or learn to start unbuckling and unbuttoning on the way to the bathroom.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


As they say in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "I got better."

This is the same painting from two entries ago and the first goat I have ever painted - or drawn, for that matter - in my life. I decided the second goat just didn't work in the composition like I really, really, really wanted. So out he went. It still has a hard edge or two that needs to be softened up and a few highlights to brighten on the face but other than that, it's good to go. Then again, I may bring the violet around to the lower left a little more so it doesn't divide the painting in half...and I may bring the fur out a little bit so it doesn't just sit right in the middle of the board...aaarrgghh....

Do you think it's a worthy Christmas gift?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Where is god?

Feeling so lost, so alone
Where is god?
Feeling so small, so insignifigant
Where is god?
Feeling so insecure
Where is god?

Look within the circle of your life
And there is god.
See the leaves on the ground
There is god.
See the trees they fell from
There is god.
See the grass, the earth, the sky
There is god.
Feel the wind and rain on your face
There is god.
Look into the eyes of the neighbor's cat
There is god.
See the love of your life come home
There is god.
See yourself in the mirror
There is god.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The life and times of an artist

The east-west flight corridor to Fort Campbell passes right overhead and traffic has picked up in the last three days. I wonder if that means anything or if they're just transporting the copters to other bases?

Between giving the new cat some attention (it only took all summer and half the autumn to get him to trust me enough to let me pet him and now he thinks he's entitled to it) and keeping said cat from trying to beat up Toby, somehow I managed to get some work done today. After I decided to take a break from this painting, I thought I would upload it, now that most of the colors are blocked in. I just noticed what looks like a big yellow streak under that one goat's beard - that will have to go!

This a small oil painting - 8"x10" - I'm doing for of my aunt and uncle Christmas gift. They have a huge herd of goats but these two caught my eye on Thanksgiving day.

I've got two more paintings and three drawings to do. I wanted to take a longer break from this one (I felt like I was just frippin' around the board instead of doing much of anything) and start at least one of the others today. They had other ideas.

I put the darn thing up on the easel and as I started to put the ground on it, it started bouncing. Normally, that isn't a problem when you're using canvas but these are masonite. They aren't supposed to bounce.

Turns out, the glue I used (Elmer's wood glue) to attach the boards to their supports isn't holding. Of course, it sticks to the wood supports but not the gessoed board, which is strange because I've never had that to happen before. One thing maybe be the temperature affecting it. It's been in the twenties at night and various temps during the day in there. Eh, maybe I should've just sprung for the Gorilla Glue like I had originally thought. I hate being interrupted once I get going on a roll.

Oh yeah - the drawings are for three of the (almost) sacrifices from Thanksgiving. All three of them saw me doing a quick sketch of a cactus my aunt had in her kitchen window and said, "Draw a rose next!!" Now they all want one for Christmas.

I hope my lip didn't curl up too much when I heard the word "rose" come out of their mouths. I can't stand the sight of a rose on paper or canvas. You see, years ago, I was a member of the Hendersonville Art Council. There was this one older woman there who seemed to do nothing but watercolor paintings of roses but yet, she had this attitude as if she were better than Rembrandt himself. One day, as I picked up a colored pencil drawing that had been entered in the member show, this woman felt she just had to say something - anything - about my work. So here I was, standing there with a 18"x24" frame in my hands and she finally says, "I like your puppy dog." It took all the reserve I had not to bop her over the head with my "puppy dog" but somehow I managed to reply, "Thank you...but it's a wolf."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Reposted from Daven's Journal

If you agree, repost this on your blog and let’s change the
perspective about this

A lot has been said about how to prevent rape.
Women should learn self-defense. Women should lock themselves in their
houses after dark. Women shouldn’t have long hair and women shouldn’t
wear short skirts. Women shouldn’t leave drinks unattended. fuck, they
shouldn’t dare to get drunk at all.

Instead of that bullshit, how about:

If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
if a women is drugged and unconscious, don’t rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don’t rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don’t rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you’re still hung up on,
don’t rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don’t rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don’t rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don’t rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don’t rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular
activity, don’t rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don’t rape her.

If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don’t rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don’t rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching tv, don’t rape her.
If you break into a house and find a woman there, don’t rape her.
If your friend thinks it’s okay to rape someone, tell him it’s not,
and that he’s not your friend.

If your “friend” tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there’s an
unconscious woman upstairs and it’s your turn, Don’t rape her, call
the police and tell the guy he’s a rapist.

Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it’s not
okay to rape someone.

Don’t tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don’t imply that she could have avoided it if she’d only done/not done x.
Don’t imply that it’s in any way her fault.
Don’t let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he “got some”
with the drunk girl.
Don’t perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control
over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sometimes I think I shouldn't be allowed in public.

Sometimes I can't get used to the idea of blogging, either. "You mean I actually have to go online to post? I can't just have new entries magically appear on the thing?" I say to myself. "Then again, perhaps that's a good thing. After all, would you really want the world to know the kind of thoughts you were having watching Harry Potter?"

Normally, I'd say no. I wouldn't want my innate coolness factor to drop by about sixty points, especially since I usually hover at the edge of whatever makes one cool anyway. Since this is the lovely and somewhat anonymous world of the net, what the heck. I'll probably end up losing those points some other way.

The main thing I kept thinking during the movie was, "What the heck are they feeding these kids nowadays?" I know the main characters are supposed to be about fourteen but daaaaamnnnnnn. When I was fourteen, my friends and I were these scrawny things that looked, well, fourteen. This bunch in the movie could pass for much older. I mean, when Harry took his shirt off in the Prefect's Bath, his chest looked positively ripped and his arms had muscles. The only one who really looked somewhat like fourteen was Moanin' Myrtle. Yes, I know the actors are actually older - more like sixteen - but I'll say it again. Even when I was sixteen, I was this scrawny thing. The biggest thing about me was my hair (and no, it wasn't because it was a Southern thing to do. It was a glam thing to do.)

The other thought I had while I watched the movie was, "Where in the world did they find so many redheads - and twins? hair could look really good on a guy. Where could I find one, preferably over twenty?"

Oh good god. I sound like such a perv. I need a life.

It begins...

Well, the first third of the holiday season is over. On Thanksgiving, I visited the kinfolk, where I was an accessory (after the fact) to the death of at least one turkey. I didn't murder anyone else...although a time or two, it was a close call. People don't know how close they came to having their insolent brats sacrificed to the T.V. gods so I could watch the National Dog Show in relative peace. Maybe I should have performed a sacrifice anyway - last year's winner, Gracie, didn't even place this year.

There seemed to be a thousand children packed into the house; running around, jumping and yelling "MOM!!!!!!" and "CAN I _insert verb here_ WHEN YOU GET DONE?" In reality, I think there were only five - which, in my mind, is about five too many. I had more interesting conversations with the dogs, cats and goats. Now I've just got to prepare myself for the onslaught of "YOU CAN GET ME THIS" -itis. I try to avoid it until December 1 - the operative word being try, since stores set things out at the end of August this year.

Oh boy. I can hardly wait.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The extra, extra long entry

It's been a month since I posted any sketches or art?! Good god. It's not that I've been lazy, except in posting. Here's some pages from my sketchbook. Sorry about the quality of some of the photos - I have to use a digital camera and the light has been pretty variable today.

Text (left upper corner):
(from photos)

(right upper corner)
I originally began looking at octopi(i?) as research for an idea I had (Cthulhu) but they're pretty damn cool in their own right.

The skin is mottled and "lumpy."

Some are the "chameleons of the sea," changing their own color to blend in with their surroundings.

(left middle)
mottled greenish/grey with red & pink highlights. Smooth

(lower left corner...and yes, that is the chicken from the movie Chicken Run you see through the paper.)
Now scientists have discovered that some octopi walk on two arms when they need to.

(lower right corner)
Since they have no bones, they can squeeze into very tiny openings.

(bottom, nest to walking octopus)
keep truckin'...(Ha! After I wrote that, the Dead's "Truckin'" came on the radio.)

(Left side text)
This is my favorite pencil. Despite the efforts of my instructors, I still love to draw with my Techniclick II.

On the right side are notes I made while I was listening to the Victory Garden. I listen to the TV or radio quite a bit as I work - it distracts my brain so it can't nitpick what my hand is drawing. The notes say: From the Victory Garden: carrots, parsley - caterpillar food (butterfly garden.) Butterflies love purples, blues, yellow. Red is low on the butterfly scale.

(Upper left corner)
Color - brown, like a dry dragon gourd.

(Upper right)
This fella was hit by ice cold water at the top of the hill - I 'rescued' him by offering the heat of my hand. The water had frozen him.

I wish I could remember the rest of his features. He looked like a monster from the fifties' movies.

(Left side)
I had a dream. I was with a lot of other people and we had to get out of this place. It looked like some place in the country but we wanted to go home. One of the people had access to an expensive (and fast) car - which we tried to pile into but the car turned into a small rectangular pallet. I held on to the black cat as they tried to start it.

Somehow, we ended up in this building - we had to go through it to get home. The halls of the place was filled halfway to the ceiling with trash. We got on top of I and walked out.

There were several people? creatures? outside the door, lined up so they could cover the entire building. They had guns. We came out and started running - they went into the building.

Looking back, I see the building we came through was the Vol State Art building.

(lower right corner)
This is one of those waiting outside the building. solid white; no "real" eyes, angular like Darryl Hannah.

Clothes, weapons, skins were white - almost blue. The area across the eyes was flat - plastic covering it.

Well, now you've had a ridiculously close look at the inside of my head. Are you scared yet?

Saturday, November 19, 2005


She doesn't come across them often but sometimes, when there is a dry spell between "Momisms," I forget how entertaining they can be. Yes, my mom can make interesting use of the English language. Many a time, I can remember what she said more than the actual event.

Case in point: It's been about two years now but I can remember her response to something funny. I can barely remember the event involved some guy that had been acting like he was THE MAN but that's all. Still, like it was just a few minutes ago, I can hear her on the phone saying, "Yeah - I saw that. I about laughed my pants!"

Other times, I can't help but remember what brought about the "momism." I remember the time she found some socks at a flea market that were the exact color she wanted. Thankfully, we were in the car when she took them out and read the label. Upon reading that this particular brand of sock was suitable for both men and women, she gleefully proclaimed, "Hey! I've got bisexual socks!"

So tonight, there was a new one to add to the list. She called to tell me about an encounter she and my aunt T. had earlier. It seems while they were walking, this drunk guy stopped to talk to them. Now, this guy is almost a neighbor. He lives a mile or two away, so it's not like it was some strange guy just stopping randomly. They knew him. As the tale goes, not only did this guy want to talk to them but when he got out of his truck, his pants were wet too. My mom said, "I couldn't tell if he had spilled something or if it was something else but he was as drunk as a bicycle! Then he had the nerve to ask T. if she was married!"

Like I said, my mom can make interesting use of the English language. I don't know exactly how drunk bicycles can get but I think I've got a fairly good idea. I bet she about laughed her pants tonight, too.

Monday, November 07, 2005

You come to me like a thief in the night. Your touch is softer than owls' feathers and I am aware of nothing. Close. So close. You creep up my torso. I am only aware of your body on top of mine as our eyes lock. Shrieking, I knock you to the floor and jump out of bed.

Damn spiders.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

How to enchant a candle

The candle is small. A votive. It's smooth, creamy body is white - a nice, all purpose type of color. I roll it in my hands and it warms with the heat of my body. The sensation of it changes now and it feels almost like skin.

Reaching out with all my senses, I connect with the energy around me. I feel the earth beneath my feet, cool and full of clay and the artesian water that flows through channels in the limestone. Far, far below I get the sense of heat. Motion. The heart of the planet. Far above me are the stars - suns in their own right. Around me are the sleepy hickories. Oaks. Honeysuckle. The wind is blowing now.

Earth. Air. Fire. Water. I am a part of them all and they are a part of me.

The candle is no longer an ordinary candle. In my hands, it is a vessel, waiting to be filled. I caress it now, like a cherished lover, gently rolling it in my hands as I fill it with my voice, my will.

When it's full, I gently put the candle into its holder and light it. The wick sputters as the wax melts in the blue heart of the flame but it is soon fed by a small pool that forms beneath it. As the wick feeds, the enchantment is set into motion.

Soon it is time to come back to myself. One at a time, I let the connection go. Water. Fire. Air. Earth. It is done.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

On a much lighter note...

Monster ModRen 3

From the Contest Directions:

"This contest askes a simple question: If the renaissance took place in more recent times, and the models were famous movie monsters/aliens, what would the artwork have looked like?"

I love this idea! Contestants photoshopped their entries. It would be hard to pick but if I had to choose, two of my favorites are "Alien's Mother" (HA!) and "T-Rex Came for His Last Supper."

Thanks for nothing, jerks

I thought about letting what happened to me over the weekend go. I wasn't going to say anything on this blog. "Moving on and getting on with the positive" and all but you know what? Screw that. I was in a bad spot and except for some really great folks that I'm glad I can call friends, it could have been a whole lot worse.

I've had trouble with my truck. It's been overheating. I replaced the thermostat in it last week and thought the problem was solved because I drove it - around Portland, through Gallatin a couple of times - and it ran cooler than it ever has.

Well, this past Saturday, I took my mom yard saling because her car was not drivable at the time. We drove all around Gallatin for hours and all of a sudden, guess what? It starts overheating again. Not just overheats but boils out of the resevoir. We have to stop several times to let it cool down but we eventually make it back to her house.

The trouble comes when I start to go back to my house. I had let my poor truck sit for three or four hours in the driveway to cool down. By now, it is pitch dark and a new moon when it overheats on me again on a little backroad just outside Bethpage, TN. Well, "overheat" doesn't quite describe it: it starts whistling like a tea kettle. I stop where I am to turn it off...only I can't get it started again. I try but I only succeed in running the battery down so I turn on the hazard lights and hope there is enough room for cars to pass because my truck is sitting right in the lane - on the blind side of a steep hill.

Luckily, I am only a half mile from a friend from college. Problem was, I was wearing black pants, a dark green t-shirt and a black jacket - on a totally dark night. I kept praying and hoping that no cars would come by because they would not be able to see me at all.

So I get to my friend's house and ask to use the phone. Now, this is not down in the middle of the night. This is around seven p.m. I call four different tow truck operators. One, "The Letter of the Alphabet That Is After C" & "The Letter of the Alphabet that Is Before S" out of Gallatin, tells me point blank, "Not tonight." The next guy, who shares a name with a certain Regency Hotel and was only a few miles away, after I go through my spiel, tells me that he only tows big trucks to Westmoreland (only to have my mom tell me later, "Isn't that the guy you called last time?" It was.) The third towing service I call says, "Well, it'll take me a few minutes because I've got my hands in this engine but I'll be there." He knows exactly where I am, because he tells me the landmarks in the area before I can do the same. This was a certain "Greasy" who is a rather big name in Westmoreland (such as that is.) An hour and a half later - no tow truck. As far as I know, he never showed up.

Here I go again. I call one more person in Westmoreland. "Beam Me Up" 24 Hour Towing tells me, via his daughter because he is on a cell phone, "Well, I could do it tonight but it will be cheaper if you can wait until tomorrow."

"Well, that's a lot of help because my truck is sitting in the middle of the road right now. I tell you what - I'll see what else I can do." Click.

So, after nearly two and a half hours, my truck is moved out of the road and into an unused driveway with the help of my friend's father. He also gave me a lift home. Let me say right now that I am eternally grateful for the entire family's generosity and I am glad to call them friends. It wasn't until Sunday afternoon that my truck is finally towed.

As for those other guys? I told them what had happened and they didn't seem to care. Thanks for nothing, jerks.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Another rough idea, appropriate for the holidays.

(Click here for info on Cthulhu and here for an "Cthulhu for President" page.)

Belated idea#2 - "Remote"

Belated idea#1 - "Lost"

I joined the Illustration Friday list a few weeks ago and have been meaning to post my ideas. This one and the next are just some roughs I did of past prompts to get the juices flowing.

I didn't do such a great job on the letters here, so I used fonts to make them more legible. Click on it to get a better view.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Special Report

While I was out by the studio today, I startled something in the grass. It got Mishy's attention but neither of us got a look at it.

I wonder how it would be reported, if cats had their own newspaper?

Headline: Something Tasty This Way Comes
Byline: Tabby Volestalker, contributing reporter to the Feline Times

Something tasty is apparently lurking in the woods outside a local barn but as of yet, no feline has been able to get a glimpse of it. Apparently, before today, the only clues that there was something edible in these woods was an occasional rustling sound on the ground, as if the tidbit were looking for food itself. That changed when the first clue as to what the tidbit may be was gathered: a loud but short, piping squeak.

"It sounded somewhat like a mouse," said Mishy, a black and white resident of the property where the possible appetizer was heard. "A large...tasty...absolutely sumptuous mouse...uh, ahem. I never saw it though. It disappeared before I got close to it at all."

"Of course, I didn't believe it at first," said another feline in residence who refused to give his name. "We've all heard stories of the tidbit in the leaves that was more delicious than could be imagined but those are just stories told to kittens. Myths - like the place all cats go where food is everywhere, we can mate all we want and humans are our playthings. Now I just don't know what to think."

Experts who have examined the case so far have determined that the tasty tidbit was definitely not a mouse. "Judging by the amount of noise the tidbit made, according to Ms. Mishy's report, it was quite a bit larger than an ordinary mouse. It could have been a ground squirrel or a chipmunk. Of course, we won't know for sure until we have more evidence."

Keep reading the Feline Times for the latest news on the discovery of this possibly tasty new morsel.

What is art?

When I was in printmaking class last semester, I had a zinc plate that I had put in ammonia. We used an acrylic ground to protect what we didn't want the acid to touch. Ammonia removed that ground. Well, I forgot about it and the plate stayed in there for three days.

When it was finally discovered, it was very subtly etched (ammonia is also an acid, albeit much weaker than the one we normally used for etching.) When I ran a print of the plate, just to see what it would look like, it reminded me of an old daguerreotype of a rainstorm on an open field. I half jokingly said that it needed to be the silhouette of a cow or two.

The response I got from my instructor was a laugh as well as, "Oh god, no! Don't do that!" For some reason, the very idea of artwork involving something as lowly as a cow seemed to be horrifying.

Perhaps it is a matter of background. I come from a long line of farmers, on both sides of the family. I find myself contemplating ideas to acknowledge that heritage. That heritage includes cows. Horses. Land.

So...just what is art? Who decides? Does it really matter?

Nah. I'm going to do it anyway.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Letter to Toby, part II

Dear Toby:

I don't know how you learned to do it but would you please stop using the "intercom" function on the phone to get my attention? I'm getting your food out as quickly as I can and the constant "beepbeepbeep beepbeepbeep" is driving me insane.

Thank you.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Now we know...

Channel 5 ran a story tonight about the months October through December being the prime time for white tail deer to breed here in Tennessee. In the story, they warned drivers should be more careful in watching for the deer on the roads because the season makes them, as Mark Bellinger put it, "a little wacky."

Now, how can such crack reporting not put a person as ease?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Tonight, a new altar was set up in the barn/studio. Because I like to keep some things to myself, I won't say the names of the gods. Although...if you want some fun and/or homework, it won't be hard to figure out who they are. Here's a picture I took of it a few days ago (eee - the flowers don't look so great in the photo. They're marigolds, to honor the ancestral dead in the coming Samhain, not to mention that both deities have their Underworld aspects. Fitting, considering the studio literally sits on the edge of an old cemetery.)

I didn't use salt or incense in the ritual as the usual symbols of earth and air. For earth, I physically touched the altar with my hand and I blew on it for air. I held a red candle (red for creativity, passion) beneath it for Fire and daubed water on it that I saved from hurricane Katrina.

Here are the words I used:
By the earth that is my flesh, I cleanse and bless you.
By the earth that is my flesh, I consecrate you in the name of _________.
By the air that is my breath, I cleanse and bless you.
By the air that is my breath, I consecrate you in the name of _________.
By fire, I cleanse and bless you.
By fire, I consecrate you in the name of _________.
By water, I cleanse and bless you.
By water, I consecrate you in the name of _________.
By earth, air, fire and water, I call you consecrated in the name of _________.
So mote it be.

I could tell right away that it "took." The very air felt different. Peaceful, yet filled with as the Sioux used to say, "big medicine." I was in the presence of something much greater than me.

Ach, I know this entry is rather dry and documentary. I'm sorry. The whole thing is still rather fresh and I don't have the words to adequately describe the experience yet - if ever.

Goodnight y'all.

A letter to Toby

Dear Toby:

You've been here, on this Earth, for a year and a half. I think you know by now that I love you. I know you are growing up and you want to be the Big Man About the House. I also know you are going to do things I do not approve of - like fighting.

But Toby, if you're going to get into fights, at least let the other cat get within paw distance before you start screaming like you're dying a horrible death. It's a little embarrassing to come to your rescue, only to see The Murderer standing at least two feet away from you.

You need to learn to stand up for yourself. Fight back. At the very least, try to get within punching distance. After all, it's hard to be the Big Man when the other cats are laughing at you.


Hello again Blogger...

Bye-bye "track ball elbow."

Friday, October 14, 2005

Still waitin' for that tractor...

Today, I realized the real reason why I had been in such a funk this week. It was the two year anniversary of my grandmother's death. She died on October 9, 2003 and was buried on the 11th.

Why, you ask, did it take so long for me to realize this? Good question. It's taken me all this time to process the whole mess of our relationship. The mess of her funeral is a whole other topic in itself.

I know the woman loved me, in her own way. She did help me out when I really needed it. She and my grandfather paid my college tuition all those years ago. She and my grandfather were also two of the few who stood up for me when the Heir Apparent to Hell (otherwise known as the second woman my dad married) went around the bend and well, she thought she could pick a fight with a thirteen year old kid and beat her domain out of me. My dad stood by the Heir Apparent.

My grandmother was also waiting for me at the front door when I got home from the hospital the night before she died. She had been in a coma for two days - I think she simply willed herself out and her body didn't catch on to the idea until the next morning. My mother and I could feel her presence for about two weeks afterward (in fact, she almost drove my mother to insanity. She said my grandmother was a constant presence, 24 hours a day, until my mother cleared up a bit of unfinished business between them.)

Still, in all the years I was around her, I always felt as if I was kept at arm's length, like an infrequent acquaintance. I always felt that it was because I refused to kowtow to her. She wanted everyone to think that she was the Matriarch of a wonderful family who thought everything revolved around her. All I wanted was a grandmother.

To be fair, I don't think my grandmother knew exactly how to relate to me. I wasn't interested in "high society," such as it was in that small town. I didn't much care what other folks thought of me either, as long as I treated them fairly and vice versa. In other words, I didn't put up a front.

She also always wanted me to be interested in talking about dishes, quilting and other "woman's stuff" but I was more interested in what was going on outside the house. Was Trixie's hooves still spreading all over the farm or had she gotten proper shoes? What kind of fish was the pond stocked with now? Was help needed with the hay?

I guess you can say our entire relationship could be summed up in a single conversation we had a year or two before she died. I had been out in the fields all morning, helping my dad bale the hay and we had come in for lunch. We were all sitting at the kitchen table when she told me in a great, expansive voice, "Some day when I'm gone, you will get all my dishes." The only thing I knew to say was, "But I'll still get the tractor, right?"

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

To quote Dr. Sam Beckett...

Ooooohhhhhh boy.

(Heh. Shall we play "Who is that?")

Along with all the funkiness over these last few days, there has been something else going on that has me a bit...upskittled, as they used to say here in the South.

Last week, I started getting these...thoughts...for lack of a better word, that I needed a key. Not just any key but an old fashioned skeleton key. Why I needed this key, I had no idea but I needed it. It wasn't an urgent thing, just a little voice every now and then saying, "You need this key."


I didn't think anything about it until the latest post from Jeffery ( came over the Wildways list. It was called "Seeking Direction and Turning Keys." The kicker was Saturday, when we went to Bright's and I found a bunch of old keys - most of which were skeleton keys of various sizes. This was a new addition to this particular booth and I had never seen any other old keys in the entire place before. I looked through them and found a small one that 'felt' perfect. It was only a dollar.

It was when I paid for that key and had it in my hand that I felt something I hadn't happened in a long time. Tingles went up my back and I felt almost lightheaded. Evidently this key represents something big. Something magickal.

I just wish I knew what. Until I do, I guess I'll just carry it in my pocket.


So much for blogging more often. Bleh.

I'm in some kind of a funk today. Actually, I think I've been in it for a few. I've gotten off one sketch of an old key I found at an Antique Mall in Franklin KY but that's it. I tried to do a painting using last week's theme on Illustration Friday but it just came off looking like something a four year old would do - and not in a good way. I also tried to do a quick sketch of Spook sleeping nearby but it just turned to mud.

This has not been helpful. I've been doubting my own self lately. Again. There is probably a simple reason for it: not putting enough planning into the prelim stages; not seeing the subject as it really is and projecting how I want it to be instead, etc, etc, etc.

It doesn't help that I don't have much of a support system right now. It seems that my dad is the only one who is willing to champion my cause. Only thing about that is that I don't see him that often. I don't talk to my mother about it at all, especially after something she said last week. Apparently, I don't do anything when I'm home. Apparently, I just sit in this house, staring at the walls or watching TV because she said, "You just go down to the barn to get away from the house, don't you?"

"No. I go down there to work." (Thinking that I can't be an artist and sell my work if I don't put in the work to produce it or make it better.)

"So you go down there to get away from the house and the house to get from the barn?"

"No. I go down there to work," which earned me a look that said that she knew perfectly well what I did here but she wasn't going to disillusion me of it.

I don't know. Maybe I missed something but I don't think so. I just wish for, who am I kidding? I'm just going to have to buck up and muddle through.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Finally Finished

I finished a couple of paintings (finally!! I thought I would working on the junebug until long after I was dead) and forgot to post them the other day.

Well, I don't think the junebug came out exactly like I had in mind, which probably doesn't matter much anyway since I really only had a vague idea of how it should go. I usually like to plan out my ideas a little better and try to work out the bugs (pun intended) beforehand. This one was different. I said to myself, "I WANT TO PAINT!!! I'll work out the comp as I go..."

I'm not entirely sure it was successful. I've taken the disc out and put it back. I've had that middle set of legs in at least six different positions. Even now, I look at it and say, "I could add something to the top of the painting to finish out that circle and I'm not entirely sure I like those back legs like that. Could I have had some rays streaming out from the disc? What about that (*)#@@$@! middle set of legs?!"

I'm going to let it rest for a while and look at it with fresh eyes - that'll be the true test.

I worked on this piece over a day or two when I needed a break from the junebug. It's the view out the door of the barn/studio and it's another one of those where I just wanted to paint it without too much thought going into it. Landscapes are not one of my strongpoints (although it could be argued that if one judged by the examples I've put into this blog, painting isn't one of them either) and I wanted to see what would come out of it if I just let go and let the brush do what it wanted.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ghost Whisperer

Okay, I admit it. I checked out that new show on CBS - Ghostwhisperer. I had my doubts about it and I still do, especially after seeing that James Van Pragh is involved with it.

Now, I have my own thoughts about the existence of ghosts. I do not think it is as sugarcoated as Van Pragh, John Edward or Sylvia Browne would like us to think. From what I understand, they would like us to think that when we die, a magical transformation occurs and we become these shining, happy people having a grand ol' time and without a care. In other words, we drop everything that makes us...well, us and we're supposed to be blissfully happy with finding what's left of ourselves in the gardens of the gods.

What's the point of that scenario?

"What's the point?" is what asked myself about this show. Ooo, she sees dead people. Ooo, they see her. Awww, she fixes a problem with their family. Ooo, they go to the light.

Part of the problem is the title: Ghostwhisperer. Now, thanks to having a somewhat crooked mind as well as having read Monty Roberts' The Man Who Listens to Horses: The Story of a Real Life Horse Whisperer, I kept expecting to see those ghosts getting worked around a round pen and "joining up" with the trainer - just like Monty said they would.

Samara's Home

I don't know where she's been but Samara has evidently been on one heck of a journey. Two days ago, she disappeared after the neighbors' dogs decided to check out the possibilities on this side of the property line.

One of the visiting dogs is a beagle. I have a soft spot for beagles and this one knows it. When he's by himself, he can play the "sweet, harmless pup" card to the hilt but when he has his buddy with him...look out. The other two dogs belong to the neighbor on the other side of the cemetery. They know I mean business when I walk out the door.

Anyway, back to Samara. She came back sometime this afternoon and was waiting on the porch for me to open the door. She was half wet from coming through all the weeds and grass, as well as looking like she's lost some weight already. I've never heard her meow so pitifully - I thought she may have been grazed by a car, wherever she's been. (I had another cat, Artemis, to be grazed by a car years ago and she was never quite right mentally afterwards.) I put out some food, just in case, and gave her head a rub.

Evidently, the rub is what Samara needed the most. She let me to know "more please" and I was more than happy to oblige her. Those awful meows stopped. I didn't see any obvious wounds or damage, other than the results of two days away from home and Samara crawled into a nearby box and literally passed out. The poor girl was exhausted.

So for now, I'm going to keep an eye on her and let her rest. I'm just happy the Sea of Felinity is complete again.

Performance anxiety

I know this is my blog.

I also know that I can write whatever the hell I damn well please in my blog.

The problem is that I seem to have caught a good case of performance anxiety. I've noticed the visitor counter going up. I've read the comments that have been left after some of my posts. Now the thought running through my head when I start to write something is, "Bloody hell! Now I've got to write something good! I've got to be topical! I've got to write something with meaning! Ah hell - now I've got to be bloody interesting!!!"

Well, you know what? I'm not going to be good. I'm not going to be topical. I probably - more than likely - won't write much of anything with meaning. If we're lucky, I'll get the thought that I can be a good author out of my system and just be me. I'll leave it up to other folks to decide if my little strange life is interesting.

What I am going to do is try to post more often.

Now, with that said, we are returning to regular programming. Carry on.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Update on the Barrel

After our crazy experiences at the Barrel the other day, I decided the best thing to do would be to fill out the complaint form on their website. To their credit, they responded yesterday. They said they have alerted the district manager to the problem and they are giving me a gold card so the next time I come in, the bill for my meal is on them.


Still, I may wait a few weeks to take them up on the offer. I think I'll let Teacher forget what I look like first.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Email Legalese

In an email from the website:

Miscellaneous Jargon

Please do not respond to this note, as I will never receive it. All replies to this mailing list go directly to Hell and will be read by pointy eared devils that delight in making fun of your bad grammar. Instead just send a note to .

If by chance someone put you on my mailing list as a cruel joke, or if you have been instructed by a piece of bread bearing the semblance of the Christ to stay away from me, just go to and hit Unsubscribe. We will remove you from the list immediately … well maybe not immediately, depends what’s on TV that night. How about some time relatively soon thereafter, with the condition nothing really good is airing that night?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hunted and Hounded at the Cracker Barrel

There seems to be a new work ethic at Cracker Barrel and it's called "Let's Irritate the Hell Out of Them Until They Buy Something." My mother and I went to the Franklin KY restaurant last Monday as an early Birthday celebration for her and it was Chicken and Dressing day. Before we got in line for a table, we were going to do some browsing in the store but we never made it further than the candle table to the right of the door as you go in. There was a nice lady standing there who began to talk about the candles and before we knew it, she had opened each and every scent the candles came in so we could smell them. We didn't think much about it at the time because we were hungry and went to get into line before the special of the day ran out.

Our trouble began when we left the restaurant and back into the store. We couldn't just look and browse. Everywhere we went, there were multiple employees to tell us about the stuff. We'd walk away from one area to get away from one, only to be "found" by another employee. As I looked at the Halloween items, which took no more than two or three minutes, no less than three different employees came by to tell me about the clearance sale. One lady had to tell us all about the DVD's in stock while we were merely standing next to the rack, looking at something else. Still another lady had to tell me all about the cat and dog items. Both my mom and I had most of the candy pointed out to us, brand by brand, and how good it was. We did manage to find a few items (some of the few of which were not pointed out to us but we found anyway) and we gratefully escaped the store after we paid our bill.

Thursday, my mom and I decided to try again, this time going to the Gallatin TN store. We again ordered the special of the day and attempted to browse afterward. If anything, the employees in this store were more enthusiastic. Again, everywhere we went, the employees had to tell us about the items. One lady, who I swear must have been a retired school teacher - right down to the slightly disapproving tone she used when I didn't buy something - cornered me in the toy section when she saw me looking at a toy opossum and some Dreampets. She pointed out the price of the opossum and remarked that it wasn't badly priced then she went through all the containers of Dreampets so she could show me all the varieties they came in and read the clearance sign to me (as if I couldn't read the three inch high letters myself.) I made the comment that I would think about buying one and she said, "Surely you could buy one since they are on sale!" This same woman later noticed me looking at some baskets that were stacked underneath the candy table and had to tell me all about that, including getting one of her own so she could point out the price. At this point, both my mother and I were ready to leave. We didn't buy anything this day except our lunch, although I saw a few things that piqued my interest. I tell you, it was even more of a relief to get away from this store than it had been on Monday.

So what's next for Cracker Barrel? Automatic locks on the doors requiring proof of purchase, other than a meal, to get out of the damn place?

A long, cold winter?

It was dusk when I walked outside and I felt it. I don't know exactly what "it" is, except that it is that indefinable something that says, "Summer's over. Fall's here."

It is a truly indefinable thing here in Tennessee. The leaves aren't turning yet. The tomatoes are still producing like crazy. The only clue to the changing of the seasons are the temperature swings in the past week or so: upper '80's one day and barely in the '70's the next. Yet it feels as if everything is preparing to gear down for the year.

I'm wondering if it will be a hard winter this year. I'm not one of those folks who go around looking for wooly worms to see how they're colored (black: hard winter, brown: light) or count the number of fogs in August see how many snows we'll get but still, I've noticed some things. The cats' coats seem to be coming in thicker than usual and tonight there were the geese.

Every year, the Canadian geese that summer here start flying to their winter grounds. Usually, there are several little groups that fly over - little v's of five or so geese. As I stood outside at dusk, I watched four waves of at least twenty geese flew right over my head and two more groups flew off in a different direction. Like I said, it makes me wonder.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The New Kid

This is the new kid.

He wants people to think he is a big, tough, tomcat among tomcats.

It's hard to make that impression when you're sitting in a neon pink lounge chair.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Poor Poodle

I got some bad news while we on the way to the pow wow. I won't get to see Poodle anymore.

"Poodle" was a cream colored cocker spaniel and he arrived on my grandmother's farm about six years ago. My dad said he saw Poodle near town as he drove through but didn't think anything about it. A little while after he got to the farm, Poodle came ambling up the driveway and decided to stay. The amazing thing is that my dad drove normal speed - about fifty or so - and the farm is about ten minutes out of town. There's no way Poodle could have kept up with him, yet there he was.

Poodle was his own dog. After my grandmother died almost two years ago, Poodle had full run of the farm - not that he didn't have it already. His fur, with that long, characteristic cocker fringe on his legs and belly, stayed in a permanent mat because he was always roaming the fields. More than once he "protected" the farm from the terrible turtle menace, grabbing up the unfortunate critters and tossing them into the air with an equally menacing growl - or as menacing as it could be with a mouthful of turtle.

He also had an attachment to the Ford tractor - he would sleep in the barn near it and several times wouldn't even let me get on the thing so I could help with the hay. Unfortunately, that attachment was evidently his downfall. My dad was cutting hay in one of the more remote fields and didn't see Poodle until it was too late. The mower caught poor Poodle on the right hind leg.

By the time my dad got him to the vet, he had lost a lot of blood. That and what was known about Poodle's age worked against him. Part of the leg would have had to be removed and the vet said he probably wouldn't even survive surgery. Poor Poodle had to be put down.

The farm won't seem the same without Poodle there. Whenever I was there, I would take a long walk over the property and he would always go along. Sometimes, if I dawdled too long at the pond, he would stop whatever it was he was doing to come running over to me. It was his way of saying, "Hey! What are you doing just standing there looking at all that boring water? We've got all this grass to run over and explore! There's turtles to toss!" Usually, he got his way and off we'd go again.

Oh, Poodle. You were a great dog and I miss you already. I know you though - you're already roaming new fields and protecting them from those horrible turtles.

Pow Wow Season

Oooh...I think I should have proof read that last entry a little more. I know I kin rite better'un that there hoo-ha.

Summer decided to hang around for another day or two. It was particularly hot at the pow wow in Mt. Juliet yesterday afternoon. My dad and I take in a few pow wows every year - sometimes in Portland, sometimes in Cookeville and usually always at the Four Corners marina in October.

We never dance. We just watch the contestants in all their regalia and tour all the little booths circling the dance arena. I always have to buy something - an ocarina, wonderful rainbow colored beads, stones, jewelry. One year I even bought a spirit journey horse, which traditionally represents a warrior's horse in the afterlife. The spirit horse would have been buried with its owner, so he would be able to ride forever.

Sometimes, though, when those big drums start, I do just want to throw down and dance. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, as steady as a heartbeat. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, my feet brushing through the grass - toe, heel. Toe, heel. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! My feather fan lifts to the sky to honor those who created us. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, my heart beats in cadence with the drums. Beats in cadence with the earth. Beats in cadence with the universe.


Friday, September 16, 2005


Sometimes I really hate what is happening to this area, especially around Gallatin. I took some time yesterday to go yardsaling with my mom and we ended up in this subdivision across from Vol State. (One way to get to it is to go up the street the Muffler Place is on and turn left near the end of the road.)

This subdivision, except for the fact that the houses are not in pastel colors, looks almost exactly like the one from Edward Scissorhands. There were maybe four or five houseplans used for hundreds of houses and yesterday, everyone had identical large green trashcans out on the curb. I swear, everytime I find myself in this place, I say the same thing: "I think I've seen this movie."

How can anyone stand to live like this? All the cookie-cutter houses are all scrunched up together and the only privacy you really have is in the house with all the curtains and blinds closed up tight.

What they did to Mrs. Wemyss' Fairvue is even worse. They took a property on the Register of Historic Landmarks and ruined it. People say, "Oh, but it's place on the register is safe. We are doing what we can to protect the house."

Newsflash, people: the house wasn't the reason the property was on the register. Yes, the house was built by Isaac Franklin but the reason Fairvue go put on the register is this: it was the last and most intact example of a working plantation left in the United States. I say it again: it wasn't just the house - it was the land left with the property and outlying buildings on it. This includes the two remaining slave quarters and overseer's house, mushroom house, tobacco base, everything. There were crops growing on the place until just a very few years ago.

The shells of some of the original buildings, including the main house, are still there. Now all that is there is ugly, crappy, utterly unnecessary multi-million dollars houses with that stupid golf course running throughout the whole damn property.

This area is losing ties to its history at a crazy rate. What are they going to do? Knock everything down and then put up a little historical marker saying, "Oh yeah - here's what used to stand on this spot before we put up the Walgreens..."

I am not opposed to progress. What I'm opposed to is the uncontrolled sprawl that swallows everything in its path. What I'm opposed to is unthinking greed that sees nothing but nasty subdivisions all over the earth.

Wake up people! Remember the past and save a little bit of it, so we can remember where we come from. After all, it was a very smart person that said, "Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I heard the owls tonight. I don't know exactly how long owls stay together or even how long they typically live but these two owls have been here for at least five years. I was beginning to worry tonight, when I heard the one with the deeper voice but no one answered. "He" was in the trees somewhere near the back of the property.

"Who cooks? Who cooks for you?"

Finally, the other owl answered - I could barely hear "her" at first. Slowly, her call got louder and louder until it sounded as if she was around the church, just down the road. I was hoping to get another glimpse of one of them - the last time was a cold, frosty night about four years ago when one of them silently flew right over my head. It wasn't to be though. He decided to fly to her. Still, I lingered a while, just listening to them call to each other as they hunted in the hollow behind the house.

"Who cooks? Who cooks for you?"

Owls have a strange mythology to them here. Some of the older people still fear them because the old folklore says that owls are messengers of death. My own grandmother told the tale about her brother who was awakened by the hooting of an owl the night before he died in a tractor accident. The story goes that it was in a tree outside his bedroom window and it was so loud that it woke him up. He tried to scare it off so he could go back to sleep but I don't remember if he succeeded. He died when I was in my early teens.

"Who cooks? Who cooks for you?"

Friday, September 09, 2005

Painting update...

Well, my adventures with oil paint are continuing. Here's the latest version of the June bug:

Yeah, I know - I chose a weird place to stop painting on the June bug's wing covers and it looks extremely strange with just the body and no legs or eyes. Truth is, it was four in the afternoon, I had worked on this puppy almost all day (I did take an hour to eat breakfast around 9:30 and another break from 11 - 1.) I forgot to eat anything else so I was hungry and tired. There was also good potential for general crankiness so when the green mixture ran out, I judged it to be a good time to quit.

I'm still not happy with the blue parts on the background. It has thrown me into several fits! I think this is the third incarnation that background has had today. My original idea was to have yellow on top with red on the bottom, so the red would vibrate off the green in the body. There were also lavendar and green underneath as complements. Well, it didn't work. It was just too plain and...icky. (How do you like that high falutin' Artist Talk? I went to college for that.)

When that didn't work, I decided to play. The yellow parts worked out rather well, although you can't really tell that from this photo. I double loaded the brush and I really like the undertones of blue, red, green and lavendar in there. I tried to stay with the idea of having red on the bottom but it kept coming out as pink - or worse, "mud." In the end, I kept a little bit of red down there but the blue worked much better, although I'm still not happy about that lower left hand corner. My brushstrokes kept changing on me because I had to bend down to get to that corner. They look huge to me, compared to the rest of the board. There's a few other problems here and there (like that big red spot just to the right of the June bug's wing) but it'll have to wait.

I'm beat. Oh yeah - I'm starving too.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Will I ever stop being surprised by people?

I’m trying not to add too much clutter on the ‘net about the hurricane, mainly because there isn’t much of value I can add.  This is one of the times I’m going to break my own rule.

This morning, Channel 4 news reported on a story out of Franklin TN.  It seems there are some folks who got word that an old factory near their homes is going to be converted into a shelter for evacuees of Katrina – only city officials weren’t ready for word to be out yet.

So what did these folks do? They wrote the Mayor about how they didn’t want this shelter in their neighborhood because they didn’t know what elements it may bring.

Can you believe this?  Here are people who don’t even have anywhere to call home anymore and these morons in Franklin are worried that they’re going to be robbed.  Heavens help them if their damn property values drop a nickel.

However, kudos go to mayor Miller, who said: “If you don't like what we're doing, if you don't like the fact that we're bringing people from the Gulf Coast here, you can move. These people are coming here. We're going to welcome them. We're going to support them. We're going to love them."

I guess it’s true what they say:  in events like the hurricane, people’s true characters come out for the world to see.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Help me see the world with Fey eyes

Help me see the world with Fey eyes
I want to see the world with eyes that
See the magic inherent in a budding flower,
A wandering caterpillar or a lightning struck tree.

I want to see the world with eyes that
See divinity in the grace of a sleeping cat,  
A shooting star or the moan of a treasured lover.

I want to see the world with eyes that
See the sacred wilderness in the middle of bustling shopping
Mall, the windowless office and the caverns of my own self.

Help me see the world with Fey eyes
I want to see.    

Saturday, September 03, 2005


HEADLINE: Sumner County Woman Found
BYLINE: Joannie Snigglebotham, contributing editor

A Sumner County Woman was found lying unconscious in her studio yesterday.  The woman, Azra, is resting tonight in a local hospital after police initially thought that she had been beaten and possibly robbed.  It soon became clear that she was apparently the victim of a self improvement scam.

After a quick search of the area, police found a BAMCO Attitude Adjustment System 3000TM.  It had apparently ricocheted into the weeds after it impacted Ms. Azra’s head.  According to Cora Reeve of the Better Business Bureau, Ms. Azra’s incident isn’t an uncommon one.  “Unfortunately, we’ve got an entire file drawer dedicated solely to the BAMCO company.  People see their infomercial on TV and think this product is the answer to all their problems.”

The infomercials, filmed and edited by GooseSpill Studios in Nashville, have been running mainly late nights on UHF stations such as the local UPN station.  "We thought they were part of a practical joke, something like what you'd see on that Ashton Kutcher show. We had no idea that this was supposed to be an actual product. Come on. You're kidding me, right? Where's Ashton? Come on out, Dude!" said Mac Gilicutty, owner of GooseSpill.

The commercials promise a better life, complete with more confidence, popularity, money and verve with the consistent use of their system.  What the commercials do not say is the system consists of a stick with a rubberized handle, which the user must apply to the side of the head in a somewhat forceful manner.  

When asked for comment in her hospital room, Ms. Azra replied, “All I wanted was that little kick, you know - that little extra boost to get me off my behind and motivate me to work toward reaching my dreams.  When the commercial said it could deliver The Cosmic Clue by Four for a better life, I believed it.  Looking back on it, it’s a little embarrassing, really.”


Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I don't know if it was actually the "storm of the century" but close enough. Watching the images of destruction on TV brought back thirty one year old memories. I remembered when I was four on April 3, 1974. That was the day when one of the hundred and thirty three tornadoes that swept through Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio hit our home. We barely made it out. My grandparents lived a few hundred yards away and we took refuge there - they always said that "the tornado stopped at the edge of the porch."

My memories of that day are mostly silent. I mainly only remember images, except for the one memory of my dad running into the house yelling, "Get out! A tornado's coming!" My mom and I were in the kitchen that day - I remember looking out the window over the sink and seeing only a lone, tiny cloud. I remember the wind blowing so hard as we ran from the Jeep to my grandparents' house. I remember looking out the front door when it was all over and not seeing the house. All that was left was a pile of debris in the field across the road.

Once the current situation is over for the folks on the Gulf Coast, there will be nightmares. There will be anxiety whenever a storm passes overhead. My hope - my prayer - is that the people recover quickly and not the twelve or thirteen years it took me.

So mote it be.

edited to add: NOAA states the amount of tornadoes that day was 148. I'd always heard 133 but who am I to argue with NOAA?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Be kind...

I thought I'd be brave and start posting progress reports on a painting I've started.

Here is the beginning stage of it:

It's monochrome (burnt sienna and white because I wanted it to be "warm") at the moment so I can work out value and composition issues. This is going to be reminiscent of ancient Egyptian art, where the scarab "reaches" for the sun. Only, this is going to be the Southern edition, with a junebug instead.

I think I've finally figured out the problem the sun. It's painted out here because it just looked...well, puny, between that junebug's front legs. Now the sun (or simply an orb, I haven't decided which yet) will be situated halfway off the top line of board and the bug will stretch for it. We'll see how that works.

Oh yeah - if there's any sharp eyed folks out there wondering why there aren't any "darkest darks" on this version of the painting, here's why: I'm a forgetful idiot who doesn't remember her lessons. I forgot to bring out the ultramarine blue.

More as progress is made. Here's to hoping that this painting will grow up to be a good one.

Hell has no wrath... divas named Katrina and when She's done with Louisiana, she's making a beeline for Middle Tennessee. One message in my email today said the category five storm is a 500 year event. The news reported this morning that at this rate, waves from the storm will be in the sixteen to twenty feet high range and the breakers built back in the sixties are only thirteen, so New Orleans has a good chance of being under a good amount of water.

There are people in Louisiana tonight who can't leave, for whatever reason. Please consider doing whatever it is you do for them, whether it's saying a prayer, working your mojo, or pointing at the sky and saying, "HEY!!! YOU!!! DO SOMETHING!!!!" Here's to hoping they're safe and sound when it's all over.

I guess I'll spend what I can of tomorrow battening down the hatches. Yesterday, Leland Statom said Katrina will still have tropical storm strength when she gets here. He also said that there is the potential for tornadoes with this storm.

All I can say is, "Ah, hell" and get to work.

This reminds me of another storm that hit when I was a kid. I don't know which hurricane it was but it parked it's cranky ass right over Middle Tennessee and stayed for three days. It had violent lightening, ear splitting thunder, crashing rain and howling winds the entire time. I also remember that by the second night, I was pretty cranky myself. I had a waterbed and my mom wouldn't let me sleep on it. I had to sleep with her on an old, hard, high bed that felt like I was sleeping ten feet off the ground (in reality, it was only about two and a half.) She thought I'd get electrocuted somehow by lightning running in on it, even though the heater wasn't plugged in or anything.

That plus my grandmother, who we lived with at the time, didn't want us to use the toilet during the storm. She swore that there had been a person that had been blown clean off the commode when a bolt of lightning ran in on it.

Let it be stated right here and now that I was an evil child. Whenever I heard my grandmother tell that story, I wasn't scared. No, far from it. I was always curious to know how in the world that could happen and I wanted to know who this unfortunate soul was. I also had a Monty Python-esque vision of the event in my head, which didn't help matters much when I started chuckling.

Yes, I was warped beyond all hope. Even then.

I wonder what she expected us to do instead?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I decided to sit down and write this morning, since I can't do much else for the moment. I am in waiting mode - waiting for a board to dry so I can put another coat of gesso on it; waiting to see if my mom will call in the next little bit to make a vegetable run to the Mennonites just outside Scottsville, KY., waiting to see if the rain will finally decide to quit dancing around Upper Sumner County and give us the rain the plants need...waiting, waiting, waiting. At this rate, a person could get so far into waiting, they'd die from waiting for that next breath.

I hate waiting.

Monday, August 15, 2005

An Ode

Ours is the perfect summertime romance.

Every spring, I watch for you. First, you appear as a small, small thing.
Your arms reach for the sky like a small child, waiting for the Sky Mother to crush you to Her chest.

Day by day, you grow. Now you lift your arms toward the sky, no longer waiting. Your arms raised, feet firmly rooted in the ground, you praise the Sun as She travels across the sky with your entire being.

As you praise the Sun, I revere you. I praise you. I adore you. I love you.

You blush as my anticipation grows. I impatiently wait for the day I can finally and truly devour you - your sweet acid taste bursting in my mouth as I roll your small, delicious globes over my tongue. In the garden, in the kitchen, before bed - it doesn't matter. Again and again, I must have you!

And're gone. All I have left are the memories as the summer heat turns to winter's chill. That, and the anticipation of seeing you - my little love apple - again next year.

(Gee, what did you think I was talking about? Pervert.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ruminations of the resident INFP

Looking back here, I realize I haven't written that much about Paganism, other than a few posts about a certain lack of community in it. In one sense, I feel that it's very hard to write about, other than the odd "how-to" article, because faith in and of itself is a very private thing. Using language to describe the transcendent is also comparable to using a chainsaw to hew a stroke by stroke copy of Michelangelo's David: one, you're using completely different materials and two, the tools are very crude.

Truth be told, I almost gave it all up. Nothing worked anymore and it all seemed arbitrary and obtuse. None of my questions got answered, other than for a vague, "Because that's the way it is and always has been." Even the books I turned to for answers either used that same excuse or didn't answer the questions at my question about the Sun and Moon.

Why are they considered to be Sun/Male and Moon/Female, especially since everyone sees a man in the moon? (Okay...unless you see the Japanese rabbit in the moon.)

It took Joseph Campbell on NPT this afternoon to give me an "AHA" moment about the Sun and Moon. He considered them to be the opposite, with the Sun being Feminine and the Moon Masculine and here is the reasoning:

The Sun is symbolic of the power and light of consciousness as well as the fire of transformation. It is the symbol of the eternal and transcendent - the Goddess. The Moon is symbolic of all the gods which are her children as it is continually being "born" by the Sun, since once a month, it "dies" (i.e., goes into the New phase.) It then reflects the light of the sun as it grows, matures and dies back again.

As I think about it - that's symbolic of the seasons as well. The Unnameable One of Winter becomes the Maiden of Spring, who becomes the Mother of Summer after She brings forth Her Consort? At the Autumn Equinox, the Consort dies, only to be reborn the next year and the Mother becomes the Crone of Fall.

Okay, I know - basic stuff. Still, I'm going to go before my head explodes. Have a good one, y'all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

How to make a charcoal drawing

1. Begin gathering all the supplies you need to work on the drawing: charcoal, pencil, masking tape, eraser, radio, water, etc.

2. Walk to the studio, only to realize that the charcoal, paper and tape are still where you left them in #1.

3. Walk back to the house, pick up paper and charcoal and head back to the studio.

4. Prepare the paper to put on the drawing board and in the process, realize the tape is still where you left it in #1.

5. Cuss.

6. Walk once again to the house; making sure to pay proper tribute to each cat along the way, who are starting to figure out the pattern of the day and therefore will be expecting more the next time. Get the tape (making sure it's actually in hand this time) and walk back to the studio.

7. Pay proper tribute to the studio cat. Tick cat off for not giving proper amount of tribute (read: 100 percent of time and resources.)

8. Turn on radio, pick up charcoal and begin making marks. Make sure the charcoal gets good and powdery to ensure that it gets everywhere: ground into the paper, your clothes, skin and everything else within a ten foot radius.

9. After thirty minutes of blissful mark making, realize one key focal point is completely out of proportion to the rest of the drawing.

10. Cuss.

11. Realize that all is not lost and drawing can be completely saved. Begin erasing marks in key area.

12. Redraw the key focal area, using charcoal ground into your fingers.

13. Step back and look at the drawing. Realize that it still isn't right.

14. Cuss.

15. Realize once again, all is not lost. Set about fixing the problem.

16. Cuss again, for good measure.

17. Work on the drawing for another hour, remembering to make sure as much charcoal goes on you as the drawing.

18. Feel the muses begin to cooperate with you.

19. Feel the muses stop cooperating with you.

20. Continue to work on the drawing, mentally cussing the muses for being such cop-outs.

21. After another hour, walk several feet away. Pull up a chair, sit down and stare at the drawing. Will the drawing to look like the masterpiece you see it as in your head.

22. Cuss the drawing for sitting there, looking like you made it.

23. Cuss again for realizing that another key part of the drawing was left out.

24. Realize, once again, that all is not lost and the drawing can be saved - but not today.

25. Make sure everything is all right for the night.

26. Go home looking like you just spent the day down in a Kentucky coal mine and forget about the damn thing.

27. Begin again tomorrow, ready to give the drawing - and maybe the muses - another chance.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Coming along...

Work on the studio is coming along. Today, I took revenge on the honeysuckle growing up the front wall. I wanted to put in the supports under the roof for the clematis to climb but the ladder was too short, by about half. Tomorrow I plan to go ahead and put in three clematis - and yes, I am well aware of the irony of taking out one climber only to replace it with another. One point in the clematis' favor is that they will bloom out with huge magenta flowers next year. Another is that they won't try to take over the world and bind it in their ever tightening grip. I fancy putting in a climbing rose bush next spring too. I guess we'll see about that then.

I've also got to move a table and a big piece of fiberboard to it. The fiberboard is fairly large. It will be great to put on the wall as a permanent drawing/painting board.

One of the things that tickles me right down to the bottom of my secret goth heart about my new studio (my studio! I love it!) is this:

Yep, it sits right on the edge of an old cemetery. The earliest graves there are circa 1817. The man who had the original land grant to this property donated a small plot for a cemetery and an Old Baptist church. The church never got built but the cemetery has quite a few inhabitants (you can take that any way you want and you'd probably be right.) My plan is to use some of the branches from my oak tree to build a rustic gate to lead into it.

It also seems that one of the Feline Nation has already taken it upon himself to be the "Official Studio Cat." The Official Portrait of Office appears to the right of this text. He has been staying in there for the past few days, only leaving to either to get something to eat or to meet me in the path. Now I just have to find a name that fits him. "You" only goes so far. This cat is almost solid black, with a few white hairs on his belly. He is also quiet, calm for the most part and a bit of a loner. Since he is the studio cat, he needs a nice, arty name - any ideas? I've already decided against "Picasso" ("pee" as a nickname? I don't think so.), "Singer" or "Sargent" (after John.)

Heh - perhaps "Brom" would be a good name. I've always liked his work.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A letter

To the woman working in deli at the Franklin KY. Wal-mart this afternoon:

I don't care what kind of day you had or if it was almost time for you to go home. I don't care what, if anything, pissed you off today. Working in the Wal-Mart deli does not make you Queen of the World. I did not deserve the glare you gave me, especially since I apologized for making such a racket. I certainly did not deserve the patronizing tone you used when you oh-so-patiently explained to me that I did not cause the alarm to go off in back of the deli.

Just because I am 5'3" and the ridiculously high meat counter is at least 5'6" and loaded with piles of bread in front, I knocked the lid off the sample bowl while I reached for it. Yes, it made a lot of racket on it's way down the other side of the counter, yet this was not an excuse for you to treat me as an incompetent fool. I know what a timer alarm on a deep fryer is and I know I didn't cause any alarms to go off. Just how ridiculous would it be to have a damn sample bowl rigged with an alarm, anyway? Is sample theft really that much of a problem in Simpson County?

Get over yourself and provide some customer service, damn it.

The real Queen of the World

Monday, August 01, 2005

Harvest time...

Happy Lammas, y'all.

The year's harvests are beginning to come in. What's the fruits of your labors this year?

The short list:
Let's get the obvious out of the way first. Tomatoes! Marigolds! Cypress vines! Bee and Lemon Balms! Five varieties of sage! Rue! Valerian! Bloodroot! Finches and exclamation points everywhere!

I'm graduating from college and I never thought I actually would, based on the experiences I had the first time I tried it.

I finally got my tree cut into logs and put up to dry. In the process, I learned I can count on my dad when I need him. I think he learned that I will not tolerate "standing by" - I will and can put in just as much hard work as he will, and more (and I blame him for this nagging cough I have now - I was fine until he brought his over!)

As we were storing it, I realized the building my tree is in would make an excellent artist's studio - it even "told" me it's name but I want to sit on that for a while before making it public.

I can make my way in this world and it doesn't necessarily need to be by conventional, 9 by 5, means. I can make a living creating things with my own two hands.

The hardest lesson for me to learn: how do I say this without sounding trite or absolutely stupid? Although a person can be one hundred percent commmitted to a relationship, sometimes those relationships fail. Sometimes death separates you. Either way, we're human and we can't just "forget about it and go on." It may take a few weeks or it may take a few years but we have to grieve. We have to heal. The pain we think we can't take any more of can actually make us stronger, more compassionate, more human.

So. Again I ask you: what are the fruits of your labors this year?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

It IS the heat and it IS the humidity!!!!

So - how many of you out there have been re-enacting the final death scene in the Wizard of Oz this week? ("I'm melting...MELLLLTINNNNGGGGG...") I just want to throw something at the TV when the weather comes on (sorry, Mr. Tim. Sorry, Charlie.) because they say it's only going to get worse through the weekend - mid 90's with a heat index into the 100's.

I can see the headlines now...

Headline: Sumner County woman found
Byline: Joanie Snigglebottom, Staff writer

Sources with the Sheriff's Department report a Sumner County woman was found outside her home this afternoon. The incident was initially investigated as suspicious, since she was found in the garden. The woman had also turned an odd shade of brown and a noticeable aroma was noted in the immediate area.

Upon further investigation, Sheriff's deputies concluded that excessive heat and humidity had both contributed to an oven-like environment in the garden and the unfortunate woman was literally cooked. One deputy remarked, "We found her in a small patch of rosemary. She smelled oddly delicious."

...and Enterprise goes boldly no more...

James Doohan - "Montgomery Scott," original engineer of the Starship Enterprise - died today.

Thanks for the ride, Scotty and godspeed. May the engines always hum.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fear the awesome power of the MIGHTY BAZOOMS OF DOOM!!!

Just as I was finishing up the dream description in the last entry, there was a lot of racket outside my door. At first, I thought they were repaving the road but then I saw it - my tree, the one I was going to save and use in my carving projects - going up into the air. TDOT was determined to get it.

Before I thought about anything, including whether I was properly dressed, I was out the door and down the driveway. It wasn't until I was running down the short stretch of road to stop them from loading up my tree that I realized I was still in my "bed" clothes: a super brightly colored tie dye t-shirt and (luckily, this time) a pair of shorts.

Now, let it be said that when it comes to the upper chestal area, I am not exactly...unendowed. Let's just say that when it comes time for me to buy a new bra, there's no need for any extra padding in the damn thing. There have been many times in my life when I would have loved to be as flat as a young boy but have been doomed to wear a 36D bra.

This morning, I wasn't wearing one. Like I said, it wasn't until I was running down the road that I realized "they" were loose. Hell, forget Dolly Parton and her "I can't jog because I'd get a black eye" story, these things were threatening to beat down all of Upper Sumner County. Even now, I wonder how there wasn't an accident, although traffic was already down to one lane. All it would have taken was one swipe and pow! One car over the fence. Pow! Another one flipping end over end. POW!! Homerun and the crowd goes wild!

I somehow managed to get control of them when I got to the guys who were determined to steal my tree. I tell you, the state must give their employees master classes in how to defer to somebody else. I stood there with my arms across my chest as I told them that we wanted the tree - three times and to three different people. Here is how one conversation went:

Boom operator: "Well, we have to take it because it's in the road right of way."
Me: "WELL, we want the tree. Can't you just move it up there farther in the yard where it isn't in the right of way?"
Boom operator: "Well, I don't know. I'd have to call my supervisor."

Oh buddy, if only you knew how lucky you were because I almost unleashed them again right then and there.

I did save my tree, though.


I never thought I'd ever graduate from college, especially after my first attempt at it in :::cough 1988 cough:::. Then, I dropped out after a year and a half - six credits shy of a technical certificate in photography and one semester of art classes - because I was totally unprepared and burnt out emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

So this time, when I went back in 2002, the fear of getting burned out again was always in the back of my mind. That, and this weird addiction I have for knowledge (more! more!), spurred me on. I felt as if I was racing to get all I could before the mind numbing emptiness engulfed me again. I took everything that interested me when I had the time between required classes - astronomy, voice, popular dance, philosophy, world religions...

Now I'm scheduled to graduate in December but I don't have to go back, except to take an exit exam, which I keep forgetting about. When printmaking class ended in May, it seemed so anticlimactic. There was no transition, just boom! "You're done." Go on about your life now.

last night's dream
I am in a dark blue semi (the blue is about the same shade as the tab on Windows XP's task bar that shows which window is active.) There is another woman with me and we are trying to deliver our cargo, although there are several guys determined to steal it. We finally back the semi into an old car shed on an old, hilly and curvy rural highway and stuff the cargo into an old trunk. Then we watch the guys through the crack between the doors as they search for us. They can't see the truck because it blends in with the dark interior of the shed.

Now, I am at a graduation reception. Ten or twelve tables are set up in a place that seems to be both in- and out- doors at the same time. They are laid out with white linen tablecloths, china plates and gold candlesticks. Despite this, no one is really dressed up. My friend, S., is sitting to my right and I have a letter from another friend, C., in front of me. Suddenly, it hits me that I am graduating - it's over. I am so sad and I begin to cry but I go to the restroom so no one will see my tears. I get myself back together and come back to read C.'s letter. I am going to miss these people.