Meanwhile in Newcastle...Cooking in the Kitchen with Daoiri Farrell's Irish Folk Music

I met Beardo during my days of working hotel front desk. He was a co-shenanigator once, when I found myself in possession of tickets to see ZZ Top at the 9:30 Club. Details are fuzzy, but I needed someone to take 2 of 4 tickets I was getting from a shady back-alley Craigslist transaction with a guy who looked like a federal whistle-blower.

Don't ask me what a federal whistle-blower looks like; use your imagination and do your own casting. The man had pain in his eyes and darkness under them. He used few words, and he disappeared like smoke down the alley between graffiti and garbage bins after taking my cash. I got away unharmed.

Beardo is also known as Steve Cunningham of @BoomChang Records, and he records this excellent ...what is this? A show? A podcast? High-quality entertainment, that's what it is. He sets up a band in his kitchen, interviews at the counter, and I assume he serves everyone coffee and biscuits. I plan to show up one day and there had better be biscuits (A…

Hatnanigans the Third - The Test Hat wins! Please Support Small Business and Handcrafters

Oh. Em. GEE. Waiting has been like going into labor. The post office finally got the third package to me today - the Test Hat which Michell  made using extra-heavy, potentially ugly, yarn she found especially for me.

It's still not ugly, but it's super-heavy and thick with character. It's got a White Hat good guy side, and a Black Hat bad guy side. It's so very me. I'll take Michell's advice and wear it rolled up a bit, so my Yin and Yang show like a warning flag. Or a warming flag.

I AM SO HAPPERY! I may never take it off, ever.

Thank you again, Michell of CrochetAndThingsCo.

Please support Small Businesses and Handcrafters. Your grandparents would never have survived without them.

Hatnanigans Part the Two: The Hat Show

Me: :::sauntering into the office wearing the Loud Hat:::
BRB: I can do it on Friday!
Me: We're doing it TODAY! Three of them came last night.
BRB: TODAY? Okey-dokey! 

Me: :::sauntering to my cube wearing the Loud Hat::: Emilyyyy...Look what I got....
Emily:  :::frozen stare::: We're doing it TODAY?
Emily: Okay...Can we do it outside?

Me: :::proudly laying the Loud Hat on my desk:::
Anne: COOL HAT! I am so stealing this! :::grabs hat and bounces off:::
Me: :::icy death stare:::
Anne: :::lays the Loud Hat back on my desk:::

During lunch, we got it together - BRB, Emily, and I all in the bathroom fixing our makeup for the photo shoot. We decided to pose in front of the Christmas tree in the office instead of going outside. HR kindly agreed to take pictures with my phone; they were all out of focus but two. In one of those I'm rolling my eyes up in my head.  Thank you, HR - my phone was the problem, I promise. 

We hied us to the breakroom where, said BRB, the l…

Jade Resilience: What Have You Maintained for At Least Ten Years?

When BRB and I worked at a different job together, we had conversations on how to make wise choices in partnering. One thing we agreed upon: those guys who are in the front row vying for attention are also the ones who are in everybody's front row, and they don't have much to bring to the negotiating table. We wanted a fast measure and possibly a filter:

"What have you maintained in your life for at least ten years?"

Our coworker Marcus responded:

"What if all you've maintained is a good pair of shoes?"  We laughed, but hey. That tells you where a person is at in life, doesn't it?

And then I turned the question on myself.

The answer varies year to year, of course; I finally had to stop reviving my banyan tree which I'd grown from seed. I killed it three times; no, four. In another episode of prolonged distraction, the jade tree I brought to the office rotted down the middle.

I've not had this plant for ten years; more like five. I negotiate…

Hatnanigans - Commissioning Ugly

Doods. I lost my famously ugly winter hat.

Yeah, the one I got at Salvation Army in Kalamazoo, hand-knit by somebody's granny. The one John saved for me when I lost it at the pool hall. The one I expected to signal my existence if the creepy clown wants to find me. This hat. I've been having a hard time working without it.

I hit all the thrift stores in a 5-mile radius and went home disheartened. I tried eBay, struggling with keywords that would find me the ugly bucket of my dreams:
double thicknessreversiblehand knitwinter hat eBay was unable to help me at all. So I went to our favorite search engine which starts with a  colorful letter G, and I was helpfully redirected to Etsy. I should have known.

But these hats were cute, and expensive (read: more than $5.00; more than $10.00.) And I wasn't finding any that were two-sided....oh.  I forgot to search "reversible." Boom.

Michell of CrochetAndThingsCo is my Knitting Angel. Her hats weren't ugly, but they were …

This Leaf Followed Me To Work

It sat up there on my car's moon roof the entire 5 miles to my office carpark. It wasn't stuck, unless there was a bit of resin on the stem; I don't know.  I thought it had blown off at one point, but as I stopped at a red light it popped back into view, just over the edge of the glass. That's when I took this picture. 

Like it's looking in at me. Hey, leaf-brother. I see you, too.

Friends are like that; they ride along on the periphery, and oftentimes you lose sight of them. Suddenly, there they are! 

There's nothing else that needs to be said today. 

Biscuits and gravy (with lumps) to you.

Feels in Art vs. Fractals and Reduction in the Zorya

I'm about to give away secrets I don't usually discuss. This is a gift in return for your friendship - thank you.

Today's topic is mechanical but also organic. "Mechanical" infers rigidity, doesn't it? Flowers aren't rigid, and neither is paint. However, there's some formality and structure in the process - fluid rigidity.

So that moment I've been waiting for has finally arrived, and visual art is erupting from my psyche. I am SO HAPPERY. I've started with the picture you see here, which was taken in Seattle on an August day. The sunflowers present to me as utter sexiness in various life stages.

That's the process I want to portray:  how reproduction is beautiful, attractive, and present in all things throughout our universe, reduced even to the cellular or paint-stroke level. I'm also going to equate sunflower seeds with Slavic mythology, and name it The Zorya.

If your painting is wonky, it's because you didn't get the initia…

Big Texas Road Trip, Part the Two - Meeting the Cosmos

The story of Pete and Linda in Canyon,TX, has been trickling out of me for weeks now. I'm struggling with these frays, looking for a common thread that runs from beginning to end. The problem is that I can only tell my story, not theirs.  There are so many solar systems in the cosmos tha...

...there isn't enough room in this margin to explain the answer, but I have seen it.

They've always been a part of me - I call Linda my Poetry Coach because she could work magic with my words when she saw something in them. Peter is my Guru. He is thousands of years older than I am and gives away all the secrets for free. Somewhere during my travels, when I was away from the ether, they found that they couldn't exist apart from each other. When Pete leans in to hear what his girl just said to him, he grabs her ass.

Texas women are matriarchal by necessity, he says. I get that. Linda's been in the role of coach, friend, sister, mother to me over the years, giving out biscuits of…

*POETRY WARNING* Something Palatable

Here's a thing I want you to swallow
Wrapped in a gummy:

You need this
To make you whole
To fill your longing

your acceptance makes me fatter

This is not just for me, see
Gift-wrapped, dangled
A carrot in costume

dressed as what used to fill your belly

Best cede your energy to me
You don't know what to do with it
Just have a taste -

This is what you've been craving all along.

Message from the Oracle - Shut Up.

The Oracle is something of an inside joke: sometimes I pop off with a message for someone without being able to say exactly how I came to it. My several brains are always working, never at the same speed. This morning I oracled myself in my waking-dream:  I told *me I need to stop interjecting myself into other people's lives.

Interesting, because I thought I'd already stoppited. I'm still not sure what the dream was trying to show me. These things don't come with instruction manuals.

The message gave me reason to consider the differences between interjection and establishing connections. Connection is a normal and healthy concept, both in business and interpersonal relationships. Interjection sounds pushy, invasive. Where's that boundary?

Interjection is possibly not the right word. The thing I mean finds its roots when a person is accustomed to being accepted for what they can offer rather than for their authentic self; in other words they're used to being …

Big Texas Road Trip Part One - The Lunch and the Launch

The first day of Big Texas Road Trip was all about Mazzy's family: her baby sister, Asmath; her sister's dogs, Sophie the Crazy-Eyed and Owen; and her mom, Saba.

Maz picked me up at the airport in a Volvo SUV that had no CD player, so the hours we'd spent planning, buying, and burning Arabic, hip-hop, and banjo music were wasted. She'd booked the car online, but the location literally did not exist when she went to pick up her rental Friday night. She found a location that did exist, but which didn't have a vehicle for her to rent until the next morning. Maz is incredibly genuine as well as adorable - I'm sure her badassery worked in her favor as the morning rental agent gave her the best SUV on the lot for regular price.

We swung past the hotel long enough for me to check in at Hotel Indigo and then we hied to Arlington, looking for a restaurant with a patio so the dogs could join us. We found La Madeleine.

I should say right here that I've long been a fa…

#Caturday -Stay In Bed Reading and Pajama-hustle

Today I found myself wishing I was married, or otherwise had someone I could call to come over and make me some tea. I want to stay in bed, reading.

It's nice that I have time and space to do nothing but read in bed but my brain's running the list of things I should be working on, asking whether staying in bed is really appropriate. Wondering if I might be depressed.  No, brain; shut up. That's societal expectation talking. That's over-analysing. You can check, brain, but then stop checking. The answer will be the same in 2 minutes.

You can't be on the hustle 24-7. Every spare minute is not an opportunity to push your agenda. Downtime is necessary and should be scheduled as part of the hustle.

I really dislike the trend in self-help these days: everyone has a recipe, if a genuine sense of goodwill, and they'd like you to give them a dollar, please. I get it; just it's boring. People are boring, because they act like that dollar (or $24 for the book or $150…

Marketing is Hard. That is All. (Whiney Artist Alert)

I go through phases where I'm angry with the audience for their desire to purchase emotional rides. I have more feelings than I need, but bottling them for sale challenges me.  I have to translate the emotions first, and then package them in some identifiable format, which is the part that's hardest for me to understand.

I understand soup.

Soup is an art form. Quality comes at base from the raw ingredients. The recipe documents the chef's labor-intensive process of finding balance between individual flavors and textures (yes, there is work in soup.)

Like any other art, the ultimate reward is finding something that is good for the artist and also for the audience. Those lucky few in the inner circle get to taste the soup and ebulliate:
OMG. This is the best soup ever. You could sell this. if selling multiples of a brilliantly-crafted work of art to people with suspect discernment is a reward in itself. Okay, fair, sometimes it is.

My taste is pretty eclectic if expen…

Short Fiction: Iqbal the Cat

Iqbal was born into his 33rd life as a cat. This would have surprised him had he retained more memories, because his 32nd life had been spent as a Muslim who believed no such thing could occur. Iqbal the Muslim had in fact spent delightful hours over tea with a Hindu neighbor discussing the possibilities, or lack thereof, of reincarnation.

Iqbal the cat dutifully washed his paws in the drinking-bowl after visiting the litter-box.  Then, catlike, he would be distracted by the trail of water splashed out. He would follow it with his nose and return again to the bowl to splash out more water, never able to solve the mystery of gravity.

Iqbal peered out from behind the door of the barn where he spent his sleeping hours.  He took his naps in the straw-pile, which was much like the bed of straw his momma made him as a young boy growing up in the Swat Valley.  Iqbal the cat didn't so much remember his  human childhood as he felt a natural comfort in the smell of straw, in the slight cra…

Writing Love Letters vs. Being a Unicorn

I get how the internet is evil. People of diminished capacity (and yes, this is measurable) can feel confident in spewing their ill-formed ideals and even have them validated by other idiots. A movement begins.

Face-time is important. TOUCH is important. Knowing real people is important.

But then there's me.

Some of us are unicorns, hiding in plain sight. We've been burned by popular society since we were old enough to form opinions, and we've been advised to fit in. Just be normal.

Make do with what you got is the Girl Scout motto; I learned that very well. But I see beautiful things in the world and in my own mind, and when I try to share them I get deer-in-the-headlights stares at best, called crazy at worst. Normal people seem to have no imagination, or they eschew it for their own reasons.

At this point in my life I realise that every thing I believed when I was 7 years old contained a kernel of truth. All my fruitless efforts to fit in (which only resulted in further…

Big Texas Road Trip - San Antonio and Austin (Photo Link)

After Canyon, we headed south toward San Antonio. Maz's sister lives there and said we could stay at her house while she was away. North of Sweetwater, a little before sunset, Maz made a video (which we thought was hilarious) of an Oil Crane Pump Well (which looked like a grasshopper). We didn't make it to my family's ancestral graveyard but stopped at the Ballinger intersection where we could have turned left toward Brownwood. There I picked up a rock that may have touched either foot or hoof belonging to my old settler Ewings. As we passed Paint Rock, I thought about how Southwestern petroglyphs really freak me out. Like cold to the bones and feeling nauseous freak me out.

I swept slabs on construction sites in San Antonio during 1983 instead of graduating from high school. My daughter's father's father lived in Universal City, and we landed at his place for a few days before finding a trailer and getting jobs in the booming home construction industry. I sometim…