My Friend Leonard

I was unexpectedly saddened by Leonard Nimoy's death. I mean, I didn't know him personally or anything. But I really loved the original Star Trek, and all of its cast. They were all so different, different cultures and attitudes, yet they worked together to do extraordinary things. Poor Spock had to put up with this horny idiot Kirk being in charge all of the time, when he would have done a much better job, and yet he never took anything personally. He was like "the Four Agreements" personified. The good of the many over the good of the one. 
I do realize that Leonard Nimoy was an actor who played Spock and many other roles. Leonard Nimoy was not actually Spock. But, by all accounts, he was someone who embodied the same beliefs and values, minus the pointy ears. He was Jewish, not Volcan. And he was very kind to his fans, of whom I was one.

Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy. I'm not a religious gal, but I'm 99% sure you're sharing a campfire now with DeForest Kelley, somewhere in the heavens... And he's saying, "I'm a doctor, not an angel!"

Fear of Calling: It's all Greek to me.

I've just been editing and re-writing, so I don't have much to post here today about Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen. I promised I wouldn't just re-post things that you had already read, so at this point, you may have to wait a month to see what I did with it. There are more drawings, but you'll have to get the book to see them! (I know, I know. Tricky of me.)

So, that's how I've been spending a lot of my time: editing. BORING- for blogging about, at least. I don't mind doing it.

I definitely haven't been spending my time talking on the phone. Screen shot of my phone statement:

I have a phobia of calling people. Is there a name for that? Let me check these here internet tubatures... ah, yes... apparently, I only have telephone apprehension, not telephonophobia. (Not the most creative name. I'm disappointed. If I named it, I would have it come from the Greek:

τηλέφωνο - o - phobia.

Way cooler!) (I don't know how to change the text size in blogger! Why did it suddenly get so large? This is so embarrassing! I'm so sorry to be yelling at you! OMG! This is just the type of thing I worry would happen if I called you on the telephone!)

Pictures and Poetry Go Well Together

Nothing much has happened to me lately, so it's just the right time to review Just the Right Time, with poetry by Robyn Alana Engel, artwork by Robin Mead. I'm not normally a poetry person, but I recently started reading the blog of Robyn Engel, "Life By Chocolate" and it's just really funny and entertaining. (Nobody tell her I hate chocolate, okay? I get enough guff about that.) So, I bought the book. It was a steal at $5.

And it's great! I also enjoyed the art work, which is mostly a lot of fancy watercolors of birds- robins. This is the review I left on Amazon: 

It's the Bob Newhart of poetry, in its subtle humor. Paintings of robins run through it, and it was written and illustrated by Robyn and Robin... coincidence? Probably not. The art is beautiful and touching. The poetry is simple yet deep. It's nostalgic and funny. I loved it.

Buys Can Be Cat Ladies, Too!

Double your pleasure: the author's is named Showalter, my name if I had been a boy. (Okay, I'm cheating, it's his LAST name...)

Apparently, this is a real thing, and it only costs $398.99! 

Music Monday: Leslie Hall

"What is this?" you may ask, "besides awesome in a disturbing way?"

 All I have to go on is the youtube description, which I copied and pasted for you:

Uploaded on Feb 1, 2010 BUY THE SONG: or GET HARD COPY FROM: . Watch out.. this song is about forest people who dance in tight clothes. be sure to stick around for about 2:18 those are slow motion body rolls. study those abs.. i'm isolating and really getting good for live show entertainment i plan to bring it. I'd like to comment on my skin tone. That is Iowa see-through skin. while indoors watching tv and crafting you tend to form a shade of pink - white- then pale - then followed by a clearness with blue veins running every which way. The costome seen in this video is my mom's KILL BILL insperationed. Because its been playing on tv latley. she had to get a colonoscapy and so she watched them and relized maybe I had the power to kill bill. ( in dance form of course).

New Chickens! Just Hatched.

Two chicks hatched last night! We just removed them from the incubator, and I took a little movie of them. Little Z named them "Cheepsickle" and "Muffin." (I'm glad she chose food names...)

We incubated 23 eggs, so we're hoping these are just the first two of many.

Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen: More Drawings

(If you are new to this blog, take note: the following are drawings for a book I'm working on which will be titled, Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen (A picture book for adults). I published my rough draft as a serial here on the blog.)

"You know, I think they put the Eiffel Tower in at night. Little frogs come and carry it away to a safe place. Because we took the Metro into town, and we were walking, and walking, and walking, and where was the Eiffel Tower? It was nowhere. Nowhere to be seen. When Hemingway said, "A Movable Feast," he was alluding secretly to the Eiffel Tower. Those French people don't really like all of these Americans in their city all of the time. They do their best to keep us away with disdain and rudeness, but still, we keep coming. So they hide the Eiffel Tower sometimes. For fun. You really can't blame them at all. We are very annoying, talking about money openly and our medical problems, eating our synthetic health foods. Nondairy creamer. We are almost intolerable." 
The next ones are all for page numbers. These are hasty sketches- since they are going to be tiny in the final product, I haven't been spending too much time on details. Also, I've got to do 117 of them!

I seem to have made a lot of them look like famous people or people I know. Or is it my imagination?

This one looks like Gerard Depardeau to me. 

Nobody knows what the nose knows.
(Used to be a feature on the local news program
when I was growing up in the Bay Area.) 

This guy I knew in high school who was really annoying.

So judgemental!

This one looks to me like David Bowie. Or possibly my friend Andrius Gramauskas.

And this looks like some actor I don't remember the name of... but familiar.
Do they just all have common faces?

I don't think I'll show you every single drawing, but you get the idea. 

Turkey Crossing

This happens all the time.
Why did the turkey cross the road?

A few years ago, I lost a turkey from the farm. I assumed it had been eaten by a coyote. 

And then, one day...

I saw her crossing the road here. I wished her well in her new life of freedom, and I never saw her again. 

Maria Popova and I Believe in the Value of Positive News

When I was a teacher, I learned of a theory- and I'm sorry I don't remember the source- that doing what we are good at makes us better at the things we are not good at. For example, children who read below grade level, but who like music, learn to read better if you put them in music classes for several hours of the day. When they get around to reading class, they're in a happier frame of mind and learn better. (This might seem obvious, but we always did the opposite in education- put kids who don't read well in extra reading classes, and make them skip music!)

Then there was this other study that found that children who were only praised in a classroom learned better than those who were both praised and criticized. The study found that, at least with children, criticism didn't do any good at all.

And so I tried, somewhat successfully, though not all the time- to rephrase my criticisms into praise for the things the students had done correctly. It seemed kind of insane, sometimes. I mean, if a kid can't spell "because," shouldn't I point that out? Yes, I couldn't help myself. I crossed out "cuz" and wrote "because" on those papers, every time. But verbally, at least, I did make sure and praise constantly. And I think it has come to shape my world view. Not that I never criticize anyone- ask my husband and daughter. I'm a terrible person. But I still have this idea that what you focus on becomes your life. It becomes your reality.

So, if what you focus on or pay attention to becomes "reality," ["reality" should always be in quotes] we should try and focus on positive things, right? Imagine my delight when I got my weekly update for Brain Pickings' Maria Popova this week, and realized she agrees with me, completely. Popova, (autocorrect keeps trying to make her a popover!) who normally reviews other people's writings, has come up with some deep original thought. It's "original" in the sense that she wrote it first, but darned if I haven't thought it all myself, already! Which just goes to show why I love Maria Popova, she who articulates that which I feel and think myself.

Read Popova's remarkable essay about the meaning of life and the role of the media here. 

from Brain Pickings

My Future Family Needs Cable Television

Walking out to feed the bunnies last night, Little Z and I had the following conversation:

Z, age 7: "Do we have to buy cable?"

Me: "No. We don't have cable. We've never had cable."

Z: "Well, if we don't pay for cable, where does the television come from?"

Me: "You just get an antenna, and the antenna catches it from the air. The TV is in the air, all around us." [Motioning towards the frozen air above us, it kind of freaked me out for a second, all of those TV waves.]

Z: "So, my future family could have an antenna. We don't have to pay for cable?"

Me: "Well, I guess the world could change. They could outlaw antennae by then. But you don't need cable, no. I don't think they'll outlaw antennae or anything."

Z: "That's what I thought! You don't have to pay for cable! I wish you could tell my future family that."

Me: "Well, that's kind of far in the future, isn't it? Can't you tell them?"

Z: "No! My future family! You know? For math camp? We have to figure out our expenses and stuff? For our future family?"

Me: "And they're making you get cable? You don't need cable! Cable is a luxury!"

Z: "That's what I told my teacher! But she says we have to have cable!"

We got back inside the house, where Bad Assed Husband was sitting on the couch.

Me: "They're making her get cable for her future family!"

BAH: "I know! What a rip! No one needs cable!"

Me: "That's what I was telling her!"

BAH [to Z] : "And they've got you working selling cell phones at the mall, with two kids at home! It doesn't pay to work, with a job like that! You should just stay home with the kids."

Z: "It's not at the mall, Dad. I'm just a cell phone salesperson."

BAH: "Not at the mall? Where are you selling cell phones, then?"

Z: "I don't know. It's just not at the mall."

BAH: "Well, still. You can't pay for two kids in daycare, with a job like that. What does your husband do, again?"

Z: "He's a librarian."

BAH: "Librarian... huh. He might make less money than you do. See which one of you makes the least money, and that person can quit their job and stay home with the kids. It doesn't pay to work, with two little kids at home. You save money taking care of them yourself, and then you get more time with them, too. And no cable! It's a waste of money."

Little Z, Age 7: "Okay."

Meanwhile, Back in the Barn

We did borrow a ram last December, so we are hoping some (if not all) of our sheep are pregnant, but how do you tell? Is that fluff, or little lambs inside? Only time will tell! 

The one on the left is called "Little Lamb." This is what happens when
you let a four year old name your animals. Now, if Little Lamb
has babies, what do we call them? Little Lamb's Little Lamb?

The guinea hen came to live with us last summer. That's right. Our farm is so nice, other people's animals defect, and come to live with us! She's a bit of an emotional nightmare in winter, though. I don't think she bargained on being cooped up for the winter. I keep the door shut when it's below freezing out, so they can stay warm. I did open it a while back, just to let her go, if she wanted to, but she came back in at night. So, I guess she's happy, sort of? I couldn't get a good picture, because she was running around, throwing one of her fits. Just not a winter person, I guess. You can see all of the chickens cowering in the corner, staying out of her way. 

And this is my current favorite chicken: 

Nesting in our shredded junk mail. 
Mr. and Mrs. Turkey are spending the winter perched up by the sunny window, chillaxin'. In the summer, they make a terrible racket and terrorize any child who dares come near them, but in the winter, they are quiet and mellow. They save their drama for other seasons. They seem grateful to be fed, this time of year. Of course, we see hundreds of their wild cousins, roaming around, looking for food, so I suppose they have it good. So what if we eat their babies? 

That's the infamous Tom Turkey on the right, attacker of trucks.
But if you compliment him, he leaves you alone. This seems like
it cannot be true, but it is. Little Z figured it out. She told me,
"Just tell him what nice feathers he has, and he'll stop gobbling
at you." Sure enough, it worked. Everyone just needs a kind word,
now and then. So now whenever he gets upset,
"What a good turkey you are, such pretty feathers."
"Hmph," says Tom, and stands proud and quiet.

And, last of all, the bunnies. We didn't really know how the bunnies would fare in the barn, since they were house pets, but they just grew thick coats and burrowed into the wood shavings. They seem quite content. Also, I figured out they like orange peelings. Since I eat about two oranges a day all winter, this is a good thing.

Marshmallow eats her orange peels. 

Coming soon (I hope): baby chicks. Due to hatch this Sunday. 

Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen: Numerical Coincidences

"There are 24 beers in a case and 24 hours in a day. Coincidence? I think not." -Dad*

So, I've been editing and re-writing Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen, (which is a serial I wrote here on the blog, but am now putting into book form), and I noticed something interesting: it was exactly 117 pages long. 117, you may recall, was the number of Frenchmen who propositioned us in France. And then I got this moment of inspiration: What if every page had a Frenchman on it?

And what if the picture was just a little thing, where the page number was? What if the drawing of the Frenchman was the page number?

It would solve a little problem I had with the feeling of the story, which was that you didn't really get the sense, reading it, that men were constantly paying us lots of attention. I think, when you read it as written, you sort of forget about these guys. While we weren't terrified or anything, Ludmilla, Zgjenyue and I were always at least a little bit aware of men watching us. They were always there. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Or a good thing. It just was. We had no idea what to make of it.

Anything I did to make you feel the presence of all of these men would seem to be this feminist statement. If you want to take it as such, I don't mind, but I'm just putting it out there: this is what happened. And we enjoyed our trip, for the most part. If I had Frenchmen interrupting the flow of writing all of the time, announcing their presence there, it would be like hitting you, the reader, over the head with Frenchmen, and I do not want to do that. I accept that things are different in France. They have different customs there, and that's how it is, when you travel to other countries. People are different. That's pretty much why we go, isn't it?

So, I'm thinking, this idea about just having a little drawing of a Frenchman on each page, a tiny drawing in the corner? That kind of works for me. They'll stay in your consciousness, that way. The reader will understand that they were always there, but they aren't hitting you over the head. At least, that is my hope.

I can't remember what they all looked like, of course. I think I remember they were all between seventeen and forty-five years old, and they were all white. And I feel like they all had brown hair. Is that possible? Well, it doesn't matter. I'll just draw Frenchmen. They all look like this:

Every man in France looks exactly like this, right?

I do remember a few things that they were doing, if not how they really looked. Like, there was definitely a dude walking his baby:
And he seemed so wholesome!

And then I wonder, should I make the men seem a little bit sleazy? Because, really, asking to have sex with someone you don't know is kind of sleazy- at least where I'm from, it is.

Strangely, they all had page numbers tattooed
on their faces, as though someone were
trying to tell me something...

Of course, when I make it into an e-book, it will all be screwed up. E-books are not the same number of pages as paper books. I guess I could put a disclaimer at the beginning:

*I hate to give you the wrong impression. I'm sure I've never seen my dad drink more than 23 beers in one day. 

Indoor Plumbing and Washing Our Hands for a Better World Day

Jono was right. He must be clairvoyant. It did take 5 visits to the hardware store ( or the farmer's co-op) to fix the sink. 
I'm having a home brew now, in celebration of indoor running water. It may or May not be the Holiday Ale ( we have three brews going right now, and I get them all confused.) I hereby declare it, "Celebration of Indoor Plumbing and Washing Our Hands for a Better World Day." And I give everyone permission to celebrate as you see fit.

Gratitude. It's cool. Cool as the water from the well coming straight into our bathroom. 


Bodkay prefers this faucet, because it's easier to drink from (more height=more clearance) and that's what's really important, isn't it? We must all have bathroom fixtures which please our sink cats.

Plumbing with Cats

Handle leaking sludge,

Bolt won't budge...
Bodkay lends a paw
With the hack saw.
When all is said and done

The water doesn't run.  :(


Once was a girl named Shoshanah
Who could card wool, but didn't really wanna.

She carded for an hour,
Stopped and took a shower,

'Till the cat came and ....


Smoking Dude

What's his deal? Who is he? I just drew him. I have no clue.

[This is a bit of an homage to - or rip off of- Slimbolala, who sometimes draws people and asks readers, "What's his deal?" I've always enjoyed commenting on his, so what the hay? I've got all of these drawings. I thought I might try it myself.]



Z: "I think I have Martha's old lunch box."

Me: "What do you mean? Who's Martha?"

Z: "A girl at school who had the exact same lunch box as me last year."

Me: "Oh, so she had one like yours? Cool."

Z: "No, I mean I have her exact same lunch box. We bought it at the thrift store, right?"

Me: "Yeah."

Z: "She gave hers to the thrift store. I have Martha's old lunch box."

Me: "Oh. Well. That's cool."

Z: "Yeah."

Picture Unrelated

Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen: Character Sketches and Other Drawings

This is going to make no sense at all. Once in the book, in context, all will be clear. (I mean, I hope all will be clear!) For now, enjoy each drawing individually.