The Wake-up Call

Flicker Feathers

This will be a long post, so grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, depending on your time zone or your tendencies.

Sunday morning I was awakened by the thumping of a flicker on the side of my house. I had actually woken up about an hour earlier and then dozed off while musing over what to post that day, so when the flicker drummed me awake I thought, hmmm, maybe this bird is trying to tell me something. There is a lot of symbolism surrounding the flicker, primarily spiritual, emotional and creative change. (This according to “Animal Speak” by Ted Andrews.)

And this is not first time I’ve had this bird fly into my consciousness. Flickers are common in my neighborhood as we have a good mix of tall trees and green lawns. I’ve had them come very close to me while I was working in the garden, and they are often calling, chattering, or drumming in the nearby trees. Perhaps the most interesting encounter was finding five tiny feathers, no more than an inch long, laid out in a neat fan on my porch one morning.

Suffice it to say that, with all this contact with the flicker, I am no stranger to change, even if I am brought to it kicking and screaming. I am actively involved in trying to change my life on several levels. That is part of what this blog is for. Flicker was just reminding me.

Either that or he was telling me I’ve got bugs in the side of my house. Then again, maybe it’s all the same.

We have wooden siding, and not particularly high quality stuff. There are splits and knot holes. Lovely places for bugs to get in, and for flickers to get breakfast. I’ve known this for quite some time, but I don’t have the expertise to fix it myself nor the finances to have somebody else do it. So I bide my time and hope that the situation doesn’t reach a crisis before I can deal with it.

And this is where change comes in. Do you have habits that get in the way of your creativity; or even worse, your health? I do. These may be things that we are hoping will just go away. It can’t be that bad. I mean, I still get some work done. Right?

We, my friends, have bugs in our houses. And even if we call the exterminators, what made the walls susceptible to bugs will still be there. Don’t get rid of the bugs; fix the house.

The painting is watercolor on Fabriano hot-press paper. It was an interesting exercise in using multiple layers of paint in different techniques, all the way from wet-on-wet to dry brush. I did most of it in about two hours, trying to work quickly. After all, I only made it as a header for this post. But I like it and I hope you do too.



Fiber Brain

The S.O.'s handwoven blue tallit. Made with linen, silk and cotton.

Lois Gaylord, my Significant Other, is a fabulous fiber artist. A weaver, a seamstress, a maker of fiber jewelry. She has confessed that she suffers from “fiber brain”. When we joined a local Jewish group (one that was more than willing to have me as a member), we discovered that they had commissioned the first Torah to be scribed by a woman. This grew into the Women’s Torah Project, the first Torah to be scribed by an international community of women.
Back to the S.O. and her fiber brain. She wanted to contribute to the project and for several years let it simmer on the back burner. As the Torah neared completion, she dyed her yarn and wove a bimah cloth, for the Torah to lie on while it is being read. This inspired her to really dig into melding her art and spirituality.
Now, a year and a half later, the WTP is going on a tour of the Bay Area, an event coordinated by another WTP artist, Aimee Golant. The S.O. is going along, headed for her homeland, carrying fabric. But not just any fabric. She has been weaving (and hand dying) tallit, jewish prayer shawls. Two of them just came off the loom today and they are stunning. Sadly, no pictures of the new ones yet, but here’s one of her earlier examples.
I realize that this sounds like an obvious path for the S.O. to have taken, but it was never that easy. There was a lot of questioning involved, about the value of art (not just monetary), about the validity of spirituality in art, among other things. She took that leap of faith and is running with it, creating beautiful pieces of wearable art.
So the lesson for today, kiddies, is to seize opportunities. You never know where they may take you.


A close-up showing some of the variations in weave structure.

Ongoing Project

I’m working on a manuscript for a YA novel and it is currently in the toddler phase. The story is all there, it may even be able to walk on its own, but it’s still clumsy and unintelligible at times. Writing something like this is a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done it before. (Feel free to refer back to the toddler metaphor.) Every once in a while you need to take a break. Do something else.

So as a way to maintain my minor grip on reality and keep my drawing skills honed, I’ve decided to illustrate scenes from my story. I don’t expect these to end up in the book and this is not a graphic novel. This is just me stepping away from the keyboard.

Here is my view of the opening page of the novel. Consider it a picture in a baby book.

Without averting my gaze, I drew an arrow from my quiver, nocked it on the bowstring and waited.


My entry for Holly Black’s Black Heart ARC contest got an honorable mention! See the other entries here and you will appreciate how difficult the choice must have been. I love the concept and art for the winning entry and the alternate cover rocks. Kudos to everyone.