Monday, December 22, 2008

Open before Christmas

I'm regifting here. Wayne sent me a link to The Moth and you, too, might want to check it out before your Christmas travels. Listen to writers such as Susan Orlean, Frank McCourt, Andrew Solomon and Adam Gopnick read their stories. There are also a number of celebrity writers such as Janeane Garofalo, Ethan Hawke, Moby and Lili Taylor reading I'm not sure what. Remember those most enchanting words from childhood: "Once upon a time" and as you travel this holiday, travel far.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Now we too are ORReos

No offense to the deer, coyote, rabbits and fox that remind us we're not the only living creatures inhabiting the end of our lane but they're not much for sharing a cup of coffee or vapid chitchat. I miss vapid chitchat. I miss the sound and stimulus of human endeavor in all its glorious diversity. Thomas Merton I am not. So as we embark on our third Midwest winter and in anticipation of the area's hunker down hibernation that's provoked acute cabin fever in me for the last two years, we've pulled up stakes and rewired our working selves into the heart of Columbia's emerging art district.

Now the house at the end of the lane is a cozy haven against the elements instead of a fortress of solitary confinement. And I look forward to going to work: unlocking the door, flipping on the lights, turning on the music and the coffee as the morning sun slants in, warming our south side. I hear workmen's hammers and drills outside, renovating the old warehouse across the street into new loft space. We can walk to restaurants and coffee shops, stores and businesses, sticking our heads in to say hello to friends working in the area.

These are photos of our studio. We're set of windows on the end. Come on by, coffee's on.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

See you next year

There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds...There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature--the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. ~ Rachel Carson

From the Little Big Book of Birds which arrived in the mail this week, a lovely gift from a lovely friend. The seasons come and go, as do the birds, but friendship is constant, in season and out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hearing Voices at Orr Street

Today's Vox features the Orr St. reading series. If you haven't yet attended a reading there I hope this persuades you to join us! Click the headline for the whole story.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Who does she think she is? Part 2

Click the headline. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who does she think she is?

A friend of mine sent me a link to what sounds like a great film you'll enjoy if you are an artist or a woman and especially if you're both: Who does she think she is? It feels particularly pertinent as this past weekend my older daughter made her stage debut in Pace Production's "The Giver" at the newly renovated Missouri Theater and my younger daughter made her stage debut in her girlband "The Pixie Chicks" at the grand opening of the Columbia Art League's new space which just happens to adjoin the Missouri Theater. In really cool synchronicity, the girls were playing simultaneously on Sunday, a stone's throw away from each other (if you could throw a stone through a wall).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Byrning Down the House

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens. Talking Heads

A whirlwind weekend of conspicuous cultural consumption. Yum. The only downside to the assorted adventures was the fact my camera is at the doctor's so all I had with me was my iphone camera which is almost useless in low light. So although I'm lacking the photos which would add the thousand words I'm leaving out, I highly recommend any and all of the following:

The Citizen Jane Film Fest, Stephens College's inaugural film festival devoted to showcasing women film makers. Friday night's opening feature was "Trouble the Water," a documentary that utilized the home footage of 9th ward aspiring rap artist, Kim Roberts, who was trapped with her husband in the floodwaters of Katrina. She films until, stuck in the attic with water rising, her battery dies, in the belief the footage might be all that survives her. It's a powerful exposure of shameful race issues still embedded in America.

A blue skied, warm sunned Autumn roadtrip through the gold and green hills of Missouri

A weekend in St. Louis's Central West end which included:

The park view from the Historical Landmark Chase Park Plaza Hotel

Dinner at Niche

A show at the historic Fox Theater which happened to be hosting

David Byrne on his current tour which included songs from his new collaboration with Eno and songs from 30 years ago.

Sunday brunch at Duffs

An armful of books from Left Bank Books including Marilyn Robinson's Home, The Man Who Turned Into Himself by David Ambrose, Here, Bullet by Brian Turner and The Implacable Order of Things by Jose Luis Peixoto.

And the store that sells tiny jeans.

Add good friends and the one you love for a fabulous, (non) heavenly weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ArtRageous Fridays IV

This is the last in the series of posters I designed for Columbia's quarterly artcrawl. The first poster appears here. The second poster appears here.The third here.

Monday, October 06, 2008


As of 11:56 am today, that is the number of people sharing the planet with you. 6.7 billion people waking--some to hunger, some to light rain, some to the call of birds, some to sounds of heavy artillery; the ones nearest me to a mild autumn breeze and the hum of a lawn mower. Think of all the people you know, have known, all their big and little dramas. Every minute, 6.7 billion narratives are sending their small rippled through history. For every story we hear told, look at how many we're missing. And now, moments later, 6,702,869,334: one thousand thirty-four more have their tale to tell.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Columbia Festival of the Arts

I'm reading on the Literary Stage in Courthouse Square tomorrow at 1 pm. You locals, come on out! Click the link above for the schedule of events. No tomatoes, please.

Monday, September 22, 2008

With Bees in our Bonnets

I don't know what pioneer women would have thought of the results but they certainly would have sanctioned the impulse:

The quilting bee was an imporant means of socializing for colonial and pioneer women (and man). Through the winter months, the women would piece their quilt tops. Since there was no central heating in these homes, there was usually only one main heated room that was too crowded during the winter months for a quilt frame to be assembled. When the weather became warmer, an invitation was sent to the surrounding neighbors for the quilting bee.

On the day of the quilting bee, the quilters would arrive early and begin marking the quilt top which had been put into the quilt frame by the hostess. The quilters would then being to quilt the top while exchanging conversation. The quilt had to finished before the husbands and beaus showed up in the late afternoon when dinner was served to all, the hostess being given a chance to show off her cooking skills. After dinner, there was very often a square dance or country dance with fiddles accompanying the dancers. The quilting bee was an important part of the social life of these people surpassed only by religious gatherings. (from

On Saturday, a room full of multi-talented women gathered at Orr Street Studios for Lisa Bartlett's "Spare Parts" mixed media bee. We arrived at 10 am and began rifling through acres of fabulous ephemera she'd generously set out for us to ransack. Lisa had us draw numbers to pick from large pieces such as old wooden boxes, clock casings, and such for use as bases for our pieces. I drew #1 and got a plum prize: an old telephone box.

After serving ourselves coffee and snacks Lisa had laid out, we got busy with paint, papers, glues, drills, scissors, screws and wire on long tables arranged in a rectangle so we could all see each other, chat and pass the gel medium. I was surprised at the absence of sustained chatter. As each person immersed deeper into her project she grew quieter with concentration. But we yakked away at the lunch break, over organic salad, fruit and hummus. Because we were at our places working, we did not really see much of what each other had been up to until the end when we laid our stuff out in the gallery area. I was amazed at what emerged from the day, including and especially from those who had never even dabbled in this before. We were all euphoric by this time: high on the atmosphere, the joy of making and messy hands, and the all day proximity to very special friends. Friends and family showed up at 4:30 to view the art, have a glass of wine and pick out their own gems from the still substantial leftovers. The only thing missing was the square dance after.

Shown above is the before and after of my piece. Thanks, Lisa!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Riders of the Storm

You've seen the footage. I have been in contact with lots of the friends and clients sweating and slogging through the wreckage of Houston. Though everyone I know personally sustained minor damage (blown down trees and fences, lost shingles from roofs, etc.) power is still out for most, few grocery stores are open (running on generators and limiting customers to entering 25 at a time) and even fewer gas stations (the gas is there but the power to pump it is not). They don't know when schools will be able to reopen. I've felt helpless in not being able to help. Then I got word that Chris Seay, the pastor of ecclesisa, the church we attended in Houston before we moved, is coordinating relief efforts through the church at Taft Street which is located centrally in the heart of Montrose.

I have copied from his letter the specific ways you may help if you are so inclined:

1)Relief Support - any donations to relief support will go to purchase chainsaws, tools, food, van rentals, water, generators, temporary employment for relief coordinators, and necessary items to support relief teams. We are estimating the immediate need for relief support to be more than 25,000 dollars. If you are able to purchase any of these items in your area and have them delivered to Houston, this would be preferred over local purchasing. However both can be accommodated.

2)Financial Relief – for those suffering financially because of loss of property and income, we would like to offer a short term assistance package. For countless families and individuals struggling to make it financially before the storm (hourly wage employees, immigrants, and single mothers), the last week has often been devastating. We hope that the federal government will improve in their response time, but the church is able and willing to fill this gap. If you would like to give specifically to this package we will distribute the following on your behalf. In the case of single mothers we intend to double the assistance.
$150 Mortgage/Rental Assistance
$100 Grocery Card
$50 Gas Card
$20 Basic Toiletries
Gospel of John (VOX)
We will attempt to continue or begin a long-term relationship with all assisted families and will offer this assistance to as many as possible.

3) Taft Street Coffee as a House of Hospitality - You may know that Taft Street Coffee (the coffee shop owned and run by Ecclesia) is rated each year as one of the top 3 coffee shops in the entire city. This morning we had our power restored and would like to re-open the shop as a site for those still without power. We estimate that over the next three weeks many would benefit from a centrally located house of hospitality that offers air conditioning, a free lunch, coffee drinks, Wi-Fi, phone service, children’s play space, and spiritual support. If you would like to sponsor the food and operational costs to run Taft Street Coffee as a gift to the community, we estimate that cost to be $850 per day.

If you have any questions you can contact me ( / cell 713 539-9201) or our Mission Pastor John Starr ( / cell 832 630-4267).

Friday, September 12, 2008

State of Evacuation

We are glued to the TV as if we're watching a slow motion car wreck, Anderson Cooper reporting the National Weather Service's threat that those who remain in Galveston in one or two story homes will face "CERTAIN DEATH!" Smiling in spite of ourselves because when we called our friend Ben to warn him of the latest escalation of doom his response was raucous laughter and because I can't hear threats of "CERTAIN DEATH" in any voice other than Eddie Izzard's.

Three years ago we were among the guinea pigs, 5 million of us in Houston feeling our way through the inaugural run of what's become a new summer ritual: evacuating a major American city. Like most of our friends then, and at latest tally, now, we had no intention of doing anything other than riding out the huge storm heading our way despite dire predictions of destruction and doom. We filled the bathtub with water, bought batteries and taped windows. As the hurricane barreled toward us and the radio continued to bleat its threats, I looked again at our two young girls and thought, "But if... " and I knew I'd never forgive myself if due to my hubris the expected winds and flooding brought harm came their way. So the day before the predicted arrival of Rita found me frantically packing suitcases and photo albums after all and Wayne lugging computer equipment and paper files to higher ground. We left our home not knowing if we'd return to anything resembling it and joined the already-in-progress mass exodus.

Fortunately, we picked our way along every path other than I-45, which by then resembled a parking lot at Woodstock, and made our way to Dallas on the back roads. We drove all night, through dark countryside and the occasional Quick-mart at some rural crossroads, one of which we stopped at and braved long lines to the filthy, overflowing restroom (my kids refuse to use a tree) and topped off our tank. The lot was full of other folks who'd also avoided the highway and there was a cheery comraderie among the refugees. I think we made it to my parents' home at something like 3 am, after a mere 8 or so hours of driving. Our next door neighbors, who'd also jumped ship at the last moment but were new to Texas and its highways, called us by cellphone, stranded on the glutted highway somewhere north of Houston and running low on gas. She was 5 mos. pregnant. They'd been on the road for I can't remember how many hours and had travelled only about 80 miles. We pulled out the atlas we'd snagged at a convenience store at the start (a brilliant move!) of our trek and navigated them off the highway, to the blue roads, and then to roads tinier than that. They arrived at my folks sometime the following morning after something like 22 hrs. on the road, give or take, or so I recall.

We all camped out at my folks' house, an impromptu holiday, and other friends who'd sought refuge in the DFW area came and joined us. My dad cooked out on the grill. We traded war stories. 10 hrs, 18 hrs, 36 hrs on the road. Reports from other friends' misadventures, evacuating Houston only to drive straight into the storm in Louisiana. Driving all the way to Arkansas to find a hotel room. Watching footage of Houston's highways: clogged on the outbound lanes and vacant as nuclear winter on the inbound. A huge city barren as a desert.

A few days later we were among the first to return home. To avoid the same gridlock on return, we'd left ahead of the rest and driven through the night. Across the street the power had gone out so one set of neighbors that had stayed behind bunked in our house. Our a/c worked and the food in the freezer had stayed frozen. I remember riding my bike a few blocks to Mission Burrito on our first night back. The guy making my burrito embraced me, he was so happy to see a person back in town. He described what it was like to be there when no one else was--how eerie and creepy.

And that was how it was when we got back. Everyone was in love with each other and the city. We'd been spared the direct hit, we were okay, but it felt like we'd made it through something. A wild ride with a happy ending. That ordeal has grown into a fond memory and I hope to God that post-Ike my friends can say the same.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

It was a Joyride

I came across this on my friend Frank Hart's facebook page. I hadn't seen it in years. Atomic Opera recorded "Joyride" on their debut album entitled "For Madmen Only" in the early 90's and I had a teeny part in the music video. Can you figure out which character I am (a no-brainer for those who've known me awhile)? Those were days of smoky clubs, ringing eardrums and 3 am breakfasts at Denny's. Road trips, guest lists and wild hopes. And devoted friendship, despite the years, the mileage and the sometimes radical realignment of our various universes. Here's to the endurance of sand castles. Now I'm all verklempt.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

He never mentioned this!

Click the link above for startling late breaking news!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sushi in the sky with diamonds

What a great day. My younger daughter woke me this morning with a cup of coffee and I wandered out to the living room to cries of "Happy Birthday" and just enough time to open a couple of the gifts my girls had wrapped (I got my very own Ugli doll) before they had to run to catch the bus. Tickets to Coldplay from Wayne. Greetings from friends, new, old and long lost, streamed in through the day.

After work, I spoke to my grandad who shares my birthday, or should I say, whose 103 birthdays I've enjoyed a large share of, as he stood on a beach in Florida in view of the Gulf which has been a fair companion to him in his later years but comes nowhere close to displacing the great love and loss of his life: the Atlantic. I think it must be from him that I've inherited my incessant wanderlust, the same tides that course his veins run through mine, tugging us toward distant and empty horizons, wet and dry. Happy Birthday, Grandad. You're a wonder.

And after that, more gifts, dinner at a Japanese restaurant, birthday cake with a dear friend, a movie with my favorite guy. He bought me a clown. How wonderful is that.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

You do the math

Average people, studies have shown, believe that they will enjoy longer lives, healthier lives, and longer marriages than the "average" person....According to a recent poll, 3 out of 4 baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) think they look younger than their peers, and 4 out of 5 say they have fewer wrinkles than other people their age..."
from "The Universe and the Teacup" by K. C. Holmes

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Tonight's sunset in Columbia. I got home the night before last and as expected, met a mountain of backlogged work. I'm still wallowing in the afterglow of my time in New Mexico, followed by a week in Texas with my parents which included a side trip to the Hill Country where we stayed in a cabin at Canyon of the Eagles Lodge on Lake Buchanan and though the eagles are not due back until November we did get to see four moons of Jupiter at their observatory.

Along the way there and back we stopped in several little towns, where SUVs are pulled up in front of storefronts where horses once were tethered. Towns like Hico, Llano, Burnet and Marble Falls where we ate Mexican food, browsed antique shops and ordered iced lattes to combat the intense, dry heat. It's true: Texas is a whole nother country.

But here, tomorrow night, Eva Ellingsworth, a woman I met at the Glen, is performing in town before her return to Holland. And though airport security seized the one dangerous jar of Branston Pickle I had been able to locate in a year and was chuffed about bringing back to my husband, I do have a stack of great books I brought back with me, including Christine Casson's new book of poetry, "After the First World," another volume of B.H. Fairchild's poetry, "The Art of the Lathe," two of the three K. C. Cole books I discovered at the Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, and "The Forgotten Desert Mothers" by Laura Swan which I picked up at Christ of the Desert Monastery among others that I can't wait to dig into. So I'll stretch the glow out a bit as summer in Missouri takes a bow, the skies around here giving Santa Fe a wee bit of competition.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

End of the Glen

So the Glen has ended and I've reluctantly said goodbye to friends of the last couple of years and this one, sad to pull my plug from the charge that a gathering of 200 artists, writers, musicians, thinkers and sojourners engenders. But I think my batteries are loaded as, tired as I am, I can't find sleep, my mind still whirring and buzzing with the stimulation of the stark and ravishing desert, with soulful conversations and explorations, and with the overabundance of beauty, created and uncreated, that fusion of art and religion and landscape that truly marks New Mexico as enchanted. As much as I'm done in by the wash of lush desert hues which shift by the hour, I'm struck wordless again and again at the eloquence of the humble, rough hewn art I stumble upon around every corner and bend in the road.

Look at the face of this figure I saw in a large, dusty, art yard, carved into a tree trunk by Max, an 85 yr. old local artist. See how he's incorporated the tree's natural lines and eddies to bring forth a face so human, so broken, so honest, I get weak in the knees.

New Mexico is where superlatives fail me, where I spend the week blithering like an idiot, trying and failing to articulate the reasons for all that so moves me here. I should know by now just to shut up.

Scenes from a week well lived:

This is the church that Georgia O'Keefe would have seen from her home across the street in the village of Abiquiu. She moved to this village from Ghost Ranch.

On the way to Christ of the Desert Monastery, after leaving the village of Abiquiu and then the highway, snaking slowly down a 13 mile rutted dirt road. The day was brutally hot and after we parked and hiked down the dusty road and around a bend, we looked up to see this humbly majestic monastery seemingly jutting from rockface, just as the bells began to toll. We entered the chapel and took our seats moments before the monks filed in and began chanting. We'd inadvertantly arrived just in time for their midday worship which was gorgeous beyond words. Huge windows above us exposed the rock formations behind the church and lit the sanctuary. It would be hard to find another 15 mins. more lovely than those.

These from the Santuario de Chimayo. We were not permitted to photograph inside the church this time. This is the gate to the courtyard and a sculpture hanging between restrooms.

The Tee House where I occasionally escaped to absorb the input and calm down.

The Hacienda Antigua, my after Glen oasis in Albuquerque. I'd planned a two day solitary stay to rest and regroup after the intensity of the week. After settling in and checking in with my family spread from England to Dallas, I headed to my car to find some dinner and was startled by a handsome man in the parking lot. Fortunately, that man was my husband. Which was the icing on the cake of a very sweet week.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Flipflop joy

I bought these flipflops 18 years ago, before tenting my way around the Southwest for most of a summer, rightly predicting I'd encounter every manner of showers except a clean ones. I've brought them with me to Santa Fe for the third time now as I attend the Glen Workshop, held on the lovely campus of St. John's College. You got it: dorm showers. But the trip here is in its way like that glorious summer of wanderlust--a sustained dose of wild beauty, although in more ways than open road and dramatic landscapes. In this gathering, I'm saturated daily with the beauty and fire of art and words and music and ideas and community, as well as a landscape that particularly ignites my soul. Had I belief in previous incarnations, I am certain I must have been a desert rat. I am, again, so happy to be here.

The Big Dipper is hanging outside my balcony of my dorm room and down below, the lights of Santa Fe flicker against a backdrop of rolling mountains. Cricket chirps and distant bursts of laughter float up from somewhere on campus. Tomorrow morning, after trying to wrestle sleep from an overstimulated brain and lumpy pillow, I'll return to my drawing workshop with renowned artist, Barry Moser, and trace the human form, miraculous in its form and functionality, and be grateful I was granted an opposable thumb. It would be much less appealing to have to draw with claws. And I don't think my flipflops would fit.