28 November 2012

A Box with Air Holes

Color-enhanced version of image.

I like having a P.O. Box.  It makes me think of travel and pen friends and the occasional mystery.  
Every now and then something truly remarkable shows up. 

This large box was delivered this past week.  
It was pretty beat up - not a good sign given that it was marked Fragile on each side.

A closer look revealed something not often seen: air holes!

And the return address was decidedly fantastical.  

Clearly other, fictional universes were involved.  Entering immediately into the play of the thing, I imagined I heard wee snorkley sounds coming from inside! And did I see movement when I opened the box?

I carefully placed the basket on the table and opened it very gently.

And what to my wondering eyes did appear?

A wee NANO RHINO wearing its own wee onsie!

Accompanying this whimsical arrival was an impressive letter.  The stationery boasted gold embossing and an elaborate typewritten script.  Pinned to the letter was a dramatically posed portrait.  

[Transcript below or click on the letter to read the enlarged version.]


To: The Esteemed Judith Jablonski, PhD
From: Dr. Humphrey D. Winslow III, Esq.
On The Occasion Of Finalization of Adoptive Care Order WR739 1/2

Dear Ms. Jablonski,

It is my pleasure to inform you that the Society for the Right and Proper Selection of Appropriate Individuals for the Care of Orphaned Diceros bicornis minor has rendered a decision in your case, #WR&#/7931/2.  In accordance with our Bylaws (Chapter 2, Section 34.3, Paragraph 9), the Subcommittee for Review of Applications, Censures, Fitness, Standards and Mores met at the Society headquarters in closed, executive session on September 3, 2012.  After three days of deliberation and multiple ballot rounds, I am pleased to inform you that they signalled [sic] their affirmative decision by order of the traditional pot of Earl Grey.

On behalf of the Executive Committee for Substantiation and Documentation of Transfers of Titles and Signatories, I am pleased to bestow upon you the title of "Member in Waiting" and bequeath you with the Deed of Subservient Services of Diceros bicornis minor.  Said Deed shall be sepeable [?] and revocable on evidence that you have not rendered adequate care and schooling to this juvenile.

Madame, I wish you and your new baby rhino the best in this life and the next!

With Utmost Sincerity,

Dr. Humphrey D. WInslow III, Esq.
Founder, Chair, President, and CEO

P.S.  Kind madame, please forgive the many errors in this missive.  My assistant and compatriot Lord Jim Higgenbottom met a fate most horrible on the business end of a Rhinoceros unicornis on his last journey to that dark subcontinent of India.  I have never trusted those beasts, and never will.


Doctor Humphrey D. Winslow, III, Esq.

Uncertain as to how Dr. Winslow III shall ascertain the welfare of the wee bicornis minor, I have posted this image below to reassure him and the Society.  The as yet unnamed beastie has been put in the tender care of one Moberg, House Mascot and Socialization Chief.  Said Moberg has mentored numerous individuals of the class Crepundia Telae and immediately adopted the wee rhino and made it 'to home.'

I also wish to send my thanks (and barely submerged chuckles) to the Society.  It is very good to know that the recent drought and excessively hot weather of the past summer has in no way dimmed the imaginative faculties of the denizens of the State of Kansas!


24 November 2012

NANO RHINO: Mostly Weekly Images ~ Sixth

By the 6th inning of any Milwaukee Brewers' home game, the fans are getting a bit antsy.  Great game or no, they're waiting for the big event of the day: The Sausage Race.  There's five of 'em: Hot Dog, Polish, Italian, Bratwurst, and Chorizo. (Apparently they have character names too.) The races begin with a flourish.  As the racers progress, things get a bit bunched up.  Occasionally there will be a crash and a sausage or two will hit the dirt.  But they get up and all make it across the finish line.

Week 3 of NaNoWriMo is a lot like the Sausage Race.  Plots start to bunch up, things get a little crazy, and here and there an author vents temporary frustration as they run up against the creative wall.  I posted more pics than usual this week, trying to keep the Typewriter Brigade cheered.

The Week 2 Postcards of Encouragement went out on time.  I tried to keep things light (though I wondered how a Rhino managed the graffiti lacking opposable thumbs!).

One Brigadier suggested a more dramatic solution to the Dragging Plot Problem.

A reflective moment on the natural development of Rhinos and Writing Machines was proffered.

Invariably, one of the newer Brigadiers will comment on the noisome aroma that can accompany some old typewriters - usually the result of mold and/or nicotine buildup.  It can be pretty bad!

Often in Week 3 the first Brigadier will pass the 50k word mark.  The saying goes that when this happens, a Rhino gets its wings!  This week we had our first sighting.

The Week 3 postcards were posted and noted.

A second Brigadier completed the race (though not his novel!).  
The remaining Rhinos were encouraged, though wistful.  When would their day of wings arrive?

The Great Rhino in the Sky looked down from its starry home and sent encouragement.

Week 4 is about to commence.  Best wishes to all!  
May your typewriterly steeds stay the course.  May your imaginations not fail you.

20 November 2012

Getting Back, Must

Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes - 12

I started a new job recently.  It's a second one.  They are both part time and both I do remotely.  So I am spending a lot of time in front of three computer screens.  It's exciting, really fun, and intense.  I am enjoying it quite a bit, but it is also taking me away from my art making.  

It's not simply as a matter of time taken from art.  That's just a matter of re-jigging the necessity of an income with this new daytime schedule I have.  No, it's more than that.  I've gotten rather efficient at using my computers to make stuff.  This blog, some silly images for this year's NaNoWriMo Typewriter Brigade, the illustrated letters I send off to pen friends.  I'm no Photoshop whiz but it's easy for me to put stuff together.  Too easy in a way.  And I realized this morning that I've been letting that ease lull me into a kind of procrastinated funk.  I have stopped making with my hands.

I'm not upset at this or angry with myself.  Those are useless emotions for this kind of thing.  But I am a little surprised.  I thought I had some momentum going. I happened on the site above. It's a bit slick for my tastes, but the content is useful for me right now.  I read two of their articles; one denoting what makes an amateur artist vs a professional artist; another on how artists can so effectively procrastinate.   

The best advice I got from them is this: I need to make some bad stuff and just get over it. Bad stuff.  Poorly imagined. Clumsily executed.  I am afraid to make bad stuff and that arrogance has got me stopped in my tracks.

The second best advice I took away from it was that I need to calm down a bit.  As any of you who use computers a lot know, this kind of work has a way of physically ramping one up.  I know this when I see the Firefox task bar superimposed over my dream imagery.  I know this when, like last night, my sleep feels too strangely electric and odd. 

So, here I go to settle myself down a bit.  One good quieting place was this  site: This was really neat; called to mind some early childhood mornings in Wisconsin's Nicolet National Forest or on my grandparents' farm.

This image above is one of the places you can rest yourself at there.

And I watched this video - at full screen resolution.

Manos, Pottery Studio from Homegrown Swedes on Vimeo.

Next, clearing my art desk and making something 
and trying not to worry when it comes out not how I want it to.  

16 November 2012

NANO RHINO: Mostly Weekly Images ~ Five

NaNoWriMo always begins with a flourish of excitement and energy. The Typewriter Brigade has been nattering for several weeks beforehand.  Typewriters are displayed, mechanical problems are discussed, and there is a general happy bustle of anticipation.  At 12:01am on November 1st, the level of intensity changes dramatically. The writers have set to work.

Here's what I posted for the Brigadiers this week.

Once a week I send off Postcards of Encouragement to the Brigadiers who signed up for it.  I let them know when the cards go out. 


In their initial enthusiasm, many Brigadiers forgo sleep.


There was considerable joy as plots and characters (and typewriters) got into a flow of happy progress.
I posted a link to this Dancing Rhino Puppet video to celebrate.

As always happens, many authors found that their characters had begun to take over.  When the Great Rhino starts messing with you and your novel, the only thing you can do is . . . make RHINO COOKIES! I posted this pic and a link to the recipe by Jenni Field, aka the Online Pastry Chef.

Mighty Rhinos 006

It also happens that as Brigadiers struggle, their Typospherian colleagues are unstinting with their encouragement and support.  Writing may be a solitary occupation, but NaNoWriMo is a team effort!


And now, Week 2 of the event is underway!

12 November 2012

Dreamtime Alchemy (Mashup)

There was this tiger, see?  And this funky-steampunky run of hallways filled with people from all different centuries, all talking loudly to and over one another.  At some point I strolled through a 19th century music hall.  And then I saw stars. All the while there was this cacaphony of music and sounds: a medieval madrigal with a Gregorian chant underlay, a jet contrail emitting flute notes, some Miles Davis-y jazz blended into an almost regal chanson, and a fiery furnace blast of unmitigated, white noise, full on rock-n-roll.  This is what happens when a synesthete dreams. 


Synesthesia, a term which translates as joined perception, "is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway" [ from Wikipedia article ]  Here's another take on it:
"Imagine that when you see a city's skyline, you taste blackberries. Or maybe when you hear a violin, you feel a tickle on your left knee. Perhaps you are completely convinced that Wednesdays are light red." [from Neuroscience for Kids: Synesthesia]
For me it means that chocolate tastes green - that beautiful rich green of moss on rocks; brass music becomes massive, brilliantly-lit, sharply pointed glass shards; time is a giant grid of hills where the past is a hazy lit fog and the future looks like clouds on the horizon; and when I walk on a certain moving pathway at the National Art Museum in Washington D.C. I see purple splotches where others might see footprints. 

Some days it is as distracting as all get out though most times it is the normal, quietly entertaining backdrop of my day to day doings.  Last night it invaded my dreams.  Last night I dreamt wildly.  Last night I went to a concert by Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra.

Funny thing is, I don't like rock music - often to the point of active dislike.  I rarely listen to it.  My Beloved Spousal Unit is the rock fan in our household.  I don't much care for Ms. Palmer's work musically (though her lyrics and her videos I find huge and hugely powerful).  Her music-making crashes and hurts my synesthete's brain fearsomely. But I adore her for what she does.  I've seen her in concert three times now and each time I've come away relatively unmoved in terms of having had a musical experience.  And each time I come away feeling I have seen a real artist, a person who has utterly, and with complete abandon, given herself over to the true madness that is at Art's core. 

AFP and The Grand Theft Orchestra, Vienna, 5 November 2012.
(Musician is 4th from the left.)

Palmer and her current band, The Grand Theft Orchestra, have been an active element in our lives these past few weeks.  Our very dear friend, Musician - my one time grad school roommate - lives in Vienna.  By day she works, by necessity as is often the case for artists, as an executive assistant at the IAEA.  But her heart is elsewhere.  When Amanda put out the call that they needed a string quartet for the Vienna concert, Musician applied.  She also brought in another violinist and a cellist.  These classical players had a night of it.  An incredible night, Musician tells us. (We had an inkling.  We were tracking it all via Twitter and the intermittent text messages Musician sent out at the pre-show rehearsals and sound checks.)

Turner Hall, Milwaukee, 11 November 2012
 Photos by Melissa Miller
Complete gallery here

I can't tell you how the concert went down in Milwaukee.  I really don't get rock music.  But I can tell you there were a lot of people around me who did.  I can tell you there were people there for whom Amanda and her bunch mean they can live another day because she is out there flying the flag for them.  Her music gives them hope.  It tells them Be Strong.  It says I Hear You. It tells them to BE.  It tells them they are loved.

And the funny, awesome, sweet and mad raucous thing is - she means it.  She god damn means it. And they know it.

Rubberstamp design by me for my onetime art stamp company

So last night I dreamed. It was the kind of dreaming that I just enjoy.  I held off from lucidly directing things though I could have if I wanted - it seemed I was awake throughout the night.  


Mostly I just watched as the decrepit plaster ceiling of the 19th century Turner Hall evaporated into a view of a very richly shaded night sky of stars.  I heard Gregorian chants behind my memories of the concert's pounding rock. I imagined my friend Musician on the stage playing her violin.  I felt my Beloved's delight at hearing one of his favorite artists perform.  I was aware of the couple from Chicago whom we'd just met for dinner before the concert.  Both love music - I could feel myself wondering what their experience of the night might be. I studied a kaleidoscope of costumes (some showing up as illustrations on the pages of old books).  I wandered through scene after scene, image after image, music after music.

The most curious thing about Amanda Palmer.  After each of the three concerts I've left truly unmoved by the sounds she makes.  And yet I am profoundly moved creatively by what she has done. It is that funny, awesome, sweet and mad raucous thing again.  

And thus I have begun my week.

10 November 2012

Doodley Doodles

"A doodle is an unfocused drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied."  So sayeth Wikipedia, which adds this observation:
"According to a study published in the scientific journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, doodling can aid a person's memory by expending just enough energy to keep one from daydreaming, which demands a lot of the brain's processing power, as well as from not paying attention." [Wikipedia article on Doodle]

This past week I found myself totally into doodling!  I've started a new job and had to attend a 4 day 'retreat' during which a boatload of information came my way.  By Day 3 I found concentrating a bit of a challenge.  This week now, as I was going over my notes for it all, I was highly entertained by the papers for Day 3.  The doodling was wonderfully elaborate which I didn't realize until now.  And it really kept me in focus.

I used a cheap Bic ball point pen; the paper was a 4x6 notepad.

That's all I got today!  Thanks for stopping by.

06 November 2012

NANO RHINO: Mostly Weekly Images ~ Four

36. Rhino - Steatite Seal, Indus Valley, 2700-1500 BCE

Oldest example of a NANO RHINO known!
"Rhino - Steatite Seal, Indus Valley, 2700-1500 BCE"

NaNoWriMo is officially underway and the Typewriter Brigade is off on its mad, clackety adventure.

As the time for The Great Writing drew near, there was considerable discussion on what machines people were going to use as well as considerable flaunting of how many machines were owned. The appropriate awe was accorded but some of the newer Brigadiers wondered if one needed more than a typewriter or two. 


Brigadiers became positively punch drunk with anticipation and a challenge, of sorts, was issued: "Try to include a scene or a mention or a side comment that include the word rhino."


Finally, November 1st dawned.  The Typewriter Brigade, as one, set to work on their machines.  A race it is, not always to the swift but certainly to the tireless.


Feeling poetic, I came up with this one to commemorate the first few days of writing.


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