Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Good Bye

A scenic designer would have to use all the stuff from Stargate, Vertigo and Star Trek to illustrate traversing 2015. Hoping for us all that 2016 is more calm, more bright. Meanwhile, I laughed out loud when I envisioned this scene. Pretty sure this is not what the divine Maker intended when she created humankind. But at least Adam got a touch sensitive glove, so he can access his appshit. Please notice that, in keeping with the intelligent design silliness, the world (pictured on Adam's new smartphone his Provider is handing off) was in fact, on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. By Michelangelo. And me. Happy new year everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Phantosmia Pareidolia and A Happy Day

Today was a fantastic day, start to just ending. My brother had a confused beginning, which my father identified as probably having had no sleep. An extraordinary engagement from Dad. We talked about a history hiccup I found on the Veterans Day internet, got more clarity on Dad's experience. Walked Wild Wing trail in company with first experience nature encounters, called a friend to meet for lunch, and then my niece called stuck in traffic minutes from where we were. The two women in my life who are recently certified rescue people - one alpine rescue; my niece, certified deep water rescue met for the first time. I found a new interesting connecting person in my long-time search for people who understand that science is not disparate from divinity, is in fact completely related. Alistir McGrath, professor of both science and religion and labeled a Christian Apologist on wikipedia, but that's a subject for other people, another time. Found some forward motion on the writing I've been mulling long and scribing short. Not a single pareidolia event, but if I live long enough I'll find Carl Sagan's face in the spots on my hands. And this final note before I sleep: I had another phantosmia experience. I was reading a facebook post from a friend about how war communications were sometimes sent (Western Union, although how terrifying for a woman waiting for news - opening that not knowing if it was I love you or sorry to report) and I smelled the fragrance worn by the woman receiving the telegram. Distinct. I've had this experience a handful of times before - Another Country with Rupert Everett, he was wearing a boutonniere, and I smelled it, with the movie on over my shoulder, not watching, and smelling the flower, turned to the TV to see it in his lapel) I looked up olfactory hallucination when that happened. Stroke, Parkinson's, okay. A book I reviewed on goodreads, which I could find but not today - I saw the author at her desk writing the book, smelled the paper, ink. My first public disclosure of this stuff. Does it matter? No. If I lived in any other century but this one, I'd be in a walled bin somewhere for even mentioning this. I think it's just the continuation of a marvelous 24 hours in any person's life, only I looked at every hour. Appreciated each quarter hour. A singular day.  It cannot be surprising that all my senses are open to the wondrous.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Surrounded by Men

Anxiety levels inexplicably elevated, I checked a free biorhythm site this morning. Okay, so I checked two. Not helpful and not surprising. What's wrong with me? Not knowing when the next time I'll get to Vault of Midnight, thought I'd order Monstress Vol. 1, and also a couple of other female-drawn/written comics, so I searched what's out there. And light dawned! Two compilation lists of Top 50 Female Comics people: both by men. Looking up Nancy Meyers filmography to compare to Nora Ephron filmography earlier today, I find on imdb a "weighted average" for a couple of favorite movies. Doesn't seem possible that males under 18 and males over 45 all rated one movie exactly 5.1, but imdb writes we weight and we're not telling you how. Read some reviews of Spectre earlier. All men. Because reviewers are. Men. Comic book bloggers. Men. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers. Men. Men men men men. Does it surprise you that 5000 men thought Mixed Nuts was so so? Liev Schreiber alone is outstanding in that movie. Madeline Kahn, divine as always. I am fully aware there is woman-driven media out there. But not the first results in a search. You have to dig to find women reviewers, directors, subject matter experts, and even when the search has woman or female in the search parameters, the results are male written. Double whammy. Female content is curated by male gaters. Is that because male views are more popular? More searched for? I doubt it. But I've been wrong before. PS I just tried to find a link to Monstress, and got this. While I'm sure Asian-American pedagogy is a worthy subject - another G U Y! aaiieee! PPS The default players in my multiplayer games are men. Have to actively switch to female. PPPS Phoned Vault of Midnight, set up an account, signed for email notification of new Monstress and Captain Marvel releases. Monstress Vol. 1 is in my box, waiting to be collected. Life is calmer now.

Monday, October 26, 2015

You Can Create the Art You Were Born to Create

This may be my first not square art on my blog. That already is weird. I signed on for a watercolor class for September 2013. Had supplies in satchel as I was on my way out the door and my father was on the couch breathing funny. I called 911 instead of leaving for class. I called the only number I had to credit my absence. A couple days later, another artist called to tell me I had some options: 1) join the artist's class in another city, 2) wait until next year, or 3) she'd teach me what she'd learned in individual sessions at the art center I belong to. I am still overwhelmed at her generosity. As serendipity goes, I owned two watercolors painted by this artist proposing. I've been afraid of watercolor all my life. Talking with a friend today I realized and confessed that art was something I came up with to do instead of finishing writing. Third grade, 4th, I had a play produced in school, and then 5th grade I was done. There are studies about this phenomena, 9 year old girls get whacked in the world. Back to art: at 9 I started winning art awards. Art, write, art, write, different art, different write. So. Afraid of watercolor. And now I'm not. Not at all. It's expensive, but not as expensive as oil which never suited my hurry up and dry sensibilities. I like acrylics because of the control. You put down, it stays there. It is always the color in the tube. Dries fast. To do anything else with the color, you have to add mediums, which are varied and crazy. Float. Matte extend. And it has black and white, which should have indicated to me that it didn't suit me. I am so watered mystical indefinable, black and white are not in my vocabulary, and...what was I thinking? $20 for a float medium? $30 for something to make the whole expensive Watercolor has no white. Nor black. When you look at the sky in life, it has clouds with varying shades of gray, palish blue, white. When you look at the sky as watercolor, there is no black, no white. The blue is the piece you need to focus on. The paper is white. Lordy, lord. And flow. I'm a paddler. Water rules. You lose focus with water in a white water river, you die. You lose focus in a watercolor painting, you live. My teacher is Barbara Weisenburg. One of her teachers is Nita Engle.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lady Tree Down

Trout Lake in Island Lake Recreation Area is a deep gravel pit. The land surrounding has few big trees, except on a ridge that separates Trout Lake from another lake, probably another pit with the immediate area scoured long ago. Towering over the other trees on the ridge was a dead tree I called the Lady Tree. It was a solitary majestic presence- could see it at great distance. I felt strongly the presence of my matriarchal ancestors at her feet, and I'd trudge up the wide path to share the views. A lake on either shoulder. When my best friend died in 2010, I'd lean against the Lady Tree and cry until I couldn't cry any more. I stopped walking at Island Lake when a couple of hunters came out of the bush next to me 3 years ago. You could see the Lady Tree from Kensington Rd., but the last year I haven't spotted her. Today I walked to find her. There's just a narrow path now and I walked slowly uphill. Fallen. Feels like a transition that I can accept at this point in my life. The ancestors and other women I loved have moved on. The tree is now habitat for other generations of living things. Feels like the natural order of life. Walking back to the parking lot, I thought about how nature and women are the same. I thought about man's ongoing efforts to control nature. And women. And I understood today that the unrelenting pursuit for control of nature and women's bodies won't succeed. Nature has her own plans.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Glass Half Full

Autumn! Michigan in autumn is a watercolor palette of crimson, orange, yellow, copper, green gold. I even like the gray down comforter of the sky. When it slides off its sky bed, a sheet of singular blue. Michigan October blue. October is a month of thinking in color. Stand under a maple tree and count the tubes of paint for the leaves. Alizarin Crimson, Scarlet Lake. Quinacridone Coral, Rose of Ultramarine. I can whisper colors to myself. For my brother, at the dinner table, saying no a hundred times: rose of ultramarine. It has sediment and an ongoing exchange of blue and pink: makes great shadows. I can close my eyes and see a tree shaped like a red wine glass, while my father wonders what this bottle of soy sauce is for, and should he put it on his salad? Add to my cheap joe's wishlist in my head as my lovely neighbor friend, wheelchair-bound, is driven to New York to live with her brother. Opera pink for her: good light fastness but may fade over time. And for me, I wonder how it is that oak leaves seem to land on tiptoe, and perhaps burnt sienna mixed with aureolin yellow for the strong spine lifted to the October sky. Or brown madder? 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Stellar Repo Reboot

Stellar has been backburnered for so long now, I had to reboot my own knowledge of who she is.  There are 2 excerpts hanging out in the interwebs. Ah! And a synopsis from nanowrimo.


Stellar Repo will bring you back your stuff from wherever in the galaxies it may be transplanted. If someone snatched it, that's one price. If you lost it, that's another. And if you trick her into chasing stuff that really doesn't belong to you, that's going to cost you plenty.

Excerpt I

Excerpt II

I feel at the controls again. And I like this visual better, although it's not final yet. The ninja outfit is too loose and has ties that would trip a stealth repoer up. Liking the idea of multiple parts to clothing though. This ninja outfit has 11 pieces (made by Reload Action, which is cool all by its onesies.) One of my expando file slots for SR has potential wardrobe drawings in it. But the tools are hers. Crowbar. Bolt cutters. And the attitude is hers. Once upon a time, I was collection manager for a bank aircraft finance department. It was a crazy assignment - I took it because no one else wanted it. And it was a chance to 1) earn more loot, and 2) inadvertently begin the long road of being the first woman to do some thing. Comes under the heading of because it was there. Or as my mother said - slow learner.  So. Begin again.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Jeep and Me

Aging. Load exceeds vehicle recommendations. Rust blooms where elements erode or pool. Creaky knees. Stiff hips. Short-term memory problem, will stall if left idle. Range of vision shortened by starring. Left shoulder sagging. Voluntary reflexes work this time, maybe not next. Skin dull overall. Could use a full service day spa for a week. Long miles on the engine, some hard distance. The stopping mechanism needs work. Filters less effective. We adjust. We coast.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Directed by Women Global Viewing Party Genre Day

Today we celebrate favorite categories in cinema, on day 5 of the Directed by Women Global Viewing Party. Watch a movie directed by a woman in whichever genre is your fav. I like film noir, scifi, old romantic comedies, action adventure. I like story, which is not a genre. Every genre needs a good story to keep me interested, including documentary. But I also like the Fast & Furious franchise, which has close to no story at all. There is no flying car crash genre. I claim not to like thriller, but I have a couple favorites that are in that genre. Here is the genre dropdown menu on the Directed by Women website. Netflix has a category of drama with a strong female lead. Drama based on literature. And so on. Drama, comedy, documentary, western, thriller - however you sort or label or categorize there are wonderful films out there to watch directed by a woman. Now's the time to start, while the world is watching with you. Science fiction: Advantageous, directed by Jennifer Phang on Netflix. Animated short: Laika, directed by Avgousta Zourelidi, Vimeo Directed by Women channel. And This Forest Will Be a Desert, directed by Alana Simone, Carolyn Radio (Vimeo DbW channel.) Comedy: Mom Is Dead and I'm Broke, Gitgo Productions directed by Betsy Carson and Kate Kaminski. Drama: Breaking Night, directed by Yolonda Ross, Vimeo DbW. A good start on wildly celebrating women directors, and growing the love of film.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Welcome to the Circus Documentary

Welcome to the Circus, a documentary directed by Courtney Coulson, will premiere at the 2015 Portland Film Festival. The film covers one month during which the circus professionals from le Lido du Cirque Toulouse France, meet and train with the students from The Palestinian Circus School in Palestine. The goal is to be ready for a mobile circus tour for the children of Palestine. The mobile cirque will travel to several cities, ending with a final performance in Jerusalem. Only one student has a blue card, allowing travel in and out of Jerusalem. The rest will have to apply for permits. There are checkpoints from one city to the next: as one performer says, each can be different day to day, hour to hour. The film touches gently on the ongoing chaos that is the West Bank, using visual cues, and the scenery passing outside the bus as the performers move from Ramallah to the scheduled cities. We see through the eyes of circus students: eager to learn, embracing the physical and mental stretch that is circus performance. Coulson is the cinematographer and director, and she uses the final hours of preparation to convey the uncertainty of West Bank life. At 4 a.m., seven hours before the first staging, a juggling act needs revision. We see the troupe training for A Walk to the Moon, a choreography that becomes an analogy for all the performers actually getting to Jerusalem. Noor, a student of the School, begins as our guide to the overarching story: a tale of uncertainty, limits, glimpses of what could be possible if only: all with the energy of youth and determination and hope. Noor is studying to be an accountant because he knows there must be work as well as circus. The le Lido performers are our on-screen eyes, as they, like we, experience for the first time the West Bank through the hearts of young Palestinians who share the love of artistry and athleticism that is circus. Keep an eye on the comic genius of the chef at the school-priceless filming. Welcome to the Circus will be screening at the Lake Erie Arts and Film Festival later in September. Follow the documentary on facebook for more opportunities to watch this extraordinary film.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

!Women Art Revolution Review

Image Copyright 2015 Lynn Hershman
September 1 to 15, 2015 will be a Directed by Women Global Viewing Party. You can party too, in your own home by watching some of the films on the Directed by Women website. You can follow on twitter @DirectedbyWomen. I started partying early. Thursday I got my copy of !War Art Revolution and watched it that night. Lynn Hershman Leeson had a video camera and she used it to record thousands of hours of the women artists who came through her living room during the Feminist Art Movement. The documentary is breathtaking in its scope, coverage, music and story. Guerilla Girls, Vietnam, campus police violence, historical context from the late 60s, early 70s, women artists missing from art history. Hershman's voiceover sets the stage "the personal became political and the very personal became art." There is footage of the debate in the U.S. House of Representatives about a bill introduced to ban Judy Chicago's 1979 art installation The Dinner Party from exhibiting in Washington D.C. A bill, begob! The heartwrenching quote from one woman (I'll post her name when I watch the documentary again.)

I don't think feminism successfully changed the structures through which art is made, sold, displayed, written about.

The 2013 documentary Finding Vivian Maier makes this clear in present tense. An exhibit of Maier's photographs was offered to major museums that declined for reasons we all now know as what I call assplaining. We don't exhibit dead artists, we already did a woman exhibit, our schedule is locked.

There is still work to be done.

Here is an excellent review of !War Art Revolution by Elisabeth Subrin. You can watch the documentary on iTunes: include the exclamation point or it won't show up. I want more of this type of film, and I'm going to get those. Directed by Women will be my source for watching and learning more about women filmmakers, and consequently women's history. There are 7,429 women directors in the database so far, and you can help build the resource list. There are 6,493 films by year, and you can help grow the knowledge base. Grow the love!

Monday, August 10, 2015

All the Ladies in the House

Character dolls are done, except for waiting on a shirt for Lore. Still no Stellar Repo that I can envision well. I like Avian, the leader of the bird planet where Stellar was raised. Got good use of a piece of white fake fur! And mangling the cloak worked out to be the best garment solution - just turned it inside/out and tattered it some more. I won't make Stellar's BFF, the gas giant because, well how do you make a jellyfish that will stand up by itself? Can't make it yet, but I have some ideas. Sold a load of old Barbie stuff to clear my mind. At the end of every flurry of activity related to writing the stories is just that: writing. There is no substitute for sitting down and doing the work. I've run out of excellent creative excuses. Give me another day, and I'll have another list. Writing a list is writing, right?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

An Accidental Collector

I'm not a doll collector, although I once had so many my beloved roommate Cheryl and her mother made a full size nanny for my not-doll-collection. Accidental collecting takes no talent, no devoted searching and no functioning thought process. One Christmas I asked my family what's with the cows? and my sister said, "don't you collect cows?" No. But here was a cow collection. Cow slippers, cow spoon caddy, cow napkin holder, culminating on that Christmas with lyrics have yourself a merry little Christmas. Cow. End of that, and I became the ex-accidental not-cow collector. I have my grandmother's baby doll, who I've written about before. As new people came into my life, that one doll became the collection for which my roomie made the babysitter. My ex-step-mother-in-law made me a Cabbage Patch doll. Ugly thing, but there it sat next to Grandma's doll. People saw 2 dolls-thought bingo-gift giving option. Brakes on that: I became the ex-accidental not-babydoll collector. And so it goes. I got my first Barbie when I was 33. I still have her: we're not nostalgic with one another, she's just around. Then Barbie turned 50. Lots of controversy about body image and such, and I thought: we got older, why didn't Barbie? She was actually younger than me, but not by enough to have retained that weird body intact for 50 years. So I started rescuing damaged, chewed, crazed-hair Barbies. And I aged them and sold them. Fully kitted with reading glasses, a Women Who Weren't Born Yesterday membership card, and a bottle of Feel Good, 'script written by Dr. Olive Another. While on the hunt for new victims for the boiling pot (one had sideways bent legs and the only way to straighten was to plunge into boiling water. I swear I could hear her screaming) and the face scraping, I discovered Jason Wu and his exotic Fashion Royalty girls. Veronique Perrin. Kyori Sato. Adele Makeda. These were extraordinarily beautiful (unlike the daftly grinning Barbie) and had fantastically detailed clothing. And stories! An elaborate back story for each character. I couldn't afford the Urban Geisha Kyori Sato who was my favorite, or any Veronique Perrin. But I brought Adele Makeda home-no clothes and have tried since then to get her original outfit back. I just missed last month on eBay by $1.00 in the last 2 seconds! I hope I never meet the woman who took the Via Veneto complete outfit home to her house. I bought Kyori (2004) finally in 2014 and promptly broke her neck. I wrote sobbing about that on this blog. I just switched out her body. The new body doesn't fit the $#%^! shoes. Dad has been enjoying this head-swap - I came out of the kitchen with Kyori, plastic bag over her head, upside down in a cup of boiling water. Now you're waterboarding them? Dad asked. Since Kyori's neck was broken, when I took her head off I couldn't get the knob out, so if you shake her, she rattles like she's got a screw loose, which is fine with me, who also has a screw loose. That should have been the end. But no! I went after a Veronique. And I got her. Not one of the hideously expensive 2004 lot, but a 2014 Nocturnal Glow Veronique. Didn't care for the dress, or the accessories, so those are now on eBay. But this doll. She is a handspeak which I knew nothing about. She comes with an extra pair of hands, for ease of dressing, but geez. I can pop heads off dolls, and scrape off faces, but removing limbs is a new step. I bought a different Veronique outfit - Full Spectrum. The earrings wouldn't go in Nocturnal's ears-I had to clip the post. The ring doesn't fit on Glow's hands, and when I tried, it scarred the plastic. And her hands! The nail polish is sloppy, and the mold on the extra set is just awful-flash around each finger. I'll have to jewelry file fingers and repaint nails. And this new body's legs are square. That's just not right. I thought I was going to sell Adele to support these new purchases, but no, she's staying. Her workmanship is superb. Just got today the new shoes I thought would fit Kyori. Nope. But I'm DONE. I'll sell the shoes, and try for another pair some day far, far away. Kyori's new body has a lovely French pedicure, and she's just fine barefoot. I mean really. And here are the Trio. Adele has her shoes off in comradeship with Kyori (my niece got me a pair of Louboutin shoes for her a couple years ago. YUM!) I made the leather pants and sculpted the hat Adele is wearing. Ahhhh. So I guess now I'm a recovering accidental-on-purpose doll collector. Sort of. For now.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Directed by Women Email to Michigan Film Office

September 1-15, 2015 will be a Directed by Women Global Viewing Party, celebrating the voluminous work of women directors from 1896 onward. We invite your organization to appreciate the contribution of women directors, the history of the gender to the development of film and to just have a bloomin' good time watching movies directed by women, and encouraging others to do the same.

You are welcome to quit reading here. But.

Imagine the opportunities. Since the tax incentives ending crimped the influx of film companies working in Michigan, there is a lost horizon in encouraging film directors to come to our pristine, eclectic, diverse and filmic state.

It's indie film world, kids, with no financial juice. Michigan will never be on the radar without the tax incentives, except for desolation-themed pseudo scifi in used-to-be Detroit for blockbusters released first overseas. Detroit has a lot more to offer. Indie films aren't interested in car crashes, city streets closed for filming when those streets are already closed to trash collection and special ed bus routes, desolation porn, or, consequently, the Townsend Hotel filled to capacity. Unless the film gets distribution. Without the blockbusters and the tax incentives and Clint Eastwood and Drew Barrymore, Michigan as a film location is toast. Unless it's the never-ending Transformers franchises. Which, as you know, has moved to Singapore. Disregard.

We want all hotels filled in every filming location in Michigan. Put Detroit in the spotlight for other than desolation, as it has done for itself in celebrating growth. Detroit is alive! Celebrate the indie film world of other sites in Michigan, its diversity of location - the glacial moraines, UP settings identical to Baltic Sea terrain, the pristine shorelines that can substitute for ocean in any weather anywhere (keep in mind that the criteria in filming for ocean is the farther shore can't be seen - Michigan's got that full stop on every coast.)

The grit of Flint, the struggles of Ocean County, the history of Idlewild, the artistic communities of Interlochen/Benzonia, the dunes of Lake Michigan, the historically welcoming gay communities in Douglas and Saugatuck, the quaint and the elegant of the east coast of Michigan, from the Huron estuary to the charm of Charlevoix, the industrial grit of Flint/Bay City/Saginaw, the Civil War quaintness of untouched cities like Three Rivers and Constantine, the storied racial dichotomy of Benton Harbor/St. Joseph and its healing, the isolation of our offshore islands on any coast, and the historical and geologic significance of Drummond Island. Our upper peninsula is shouldered on the Laurentian Shield - the bones of earth, the oldest bedrock on the freaking planet. Think scifi. Think future film. Think women directors this September. Promote the locations. Michigan is diverse. Michigan is singular in her multitudinous filming opportunity. Think real estate. Location, location, location.

Think women. Think women directors in September. The box is closed for blockbusters. Be creative. Women filmmakers are.

Think Anatomy of a Murder, and how long overdue a significant indie-pushed award-winning film done in Michigan is.

Get involved. Attract the business that is growing, engaged, vibrant and economically profound for Michigan.

There are 7,231 women directors listed on

Look at @DirectedbyWomen on twitter and discover why this is a good place to focus attention.

Approach every woman on this list and you've got your Michigan Film Office campaign for the next 10 years.

Get involved. Again.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Film Love

Light and shadow. Imagine night camp 50,000 years ago. The fire sparks and pulses as a storyteller rises to begin speaking the night's tale to the circle gathered. Perhaps the story tonight is the celebration of a birth. Or glorious victory in battle. A promised union happily joined; a quest begun this very day, the outcome unknown, inexperienced youth alone against a hostile world.

Your eyes widen, conjuring the marching legs of heroes in the smoldering logs, you hear the joyous cry of a new mother, see the triumphant arm of a youth raised to the sky as the sparks explode upward, touch the heat of passion with the palm of your hand outstretched.

Humans love story. Storytelling is how we identify ourselves, how we align ourselves with the cosmos, and the way we know what we know of human experience. For millennia the stories were mist and shadow; impermanent imagery except for the devoted storytellers who passed on oral tradition. Artist/storytellers drew scenes on rock cliffs and cave walls-early days of visual media.

Aristotle spoke of the camera obscura- sunlight through a tiny hole projected an inverted image on a surface in a dark room. Fast forward to 1545 when a drawing of camera obscura was published. 1558, Magia Naturalis is published describing a camera obscura with lenses and concave mirrors. 1816. Metal plates coated with chemical emulsion became Aristotle's darkened room.

1902-1906 Alice Guy Blaché directs over 100 phonoscènes, films made for Gaumont's chronophone, and the intriguing history of women peering through lenses to satisfy our intense ongoing hunger for drama, laughter, intrigue, pathos, chills and story, story, story through moving pictures begins with this remarkable pioneering woman's achievement.

The woman in the director's chair coordinates the collaborative forces that would animate the logs we saw in our prehistoric vision. She hires the youth with the raised arm, chooses and supervises the sound engineer who brings us the new mother's cry, guides the set designer for just the right number of stars in the sky and the correct angle of smoke, wrangles the producer, assigns the 1st and 2nd assists, all while seeing the screenplay's story and keeping her own vision true through to post production.

2015. We humans who love story will this year celebrate madly, wildly, lovingly that woman in the director's chair with the Directed by Women Global Viewing Party.

From September 1 through September 15, 2015 there is a party going on, and the world is invited! For those 15 days we will be celebrating women filmmakers around the globe by watching films, discussing filmmaking, and contributing to the knowledge base of women's roles in media historically and today. As of today there are 7,127 women directors listed on the Directed by Women website.

Engaging in this celebration can be as personal as watching a woman-directed film at home, hosting a viewing party with friends, texting afterward; posting photos on tumblr, instagram, Pinterest, facebook, tweeting films watched or film wish lists. Interviewing a woman director for your blog. On a community scale, coordinating events with your local library, school, college, film groups, cinemas. Talk about films directed by women, do some internet research, check out books from the library, encourage group discussions about the wonderful discoveries you make. Worldwide, you can find a viewing partner in a country you're interested in knowing more about and create an international film lovers' festival without leaving your house.

Directed by Women Global Viewing Party is a magnificent chance to awaken to and appreciate the voluminous contribution of women to film, visual media in all its storytelling glory. Let's make this year the beginning of the revelry, and rejoice in the synergy that brings together creative women filmmakers and their devoted global viewers.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

I Support We Need Diverse Books

We grew up with my mom who was outspoken about race. A lot of other things, too, but she corrected racist language used by other people and enhanced those corrections as teaching moments for her children. It didn't work well for changing other people's attitudes, but we were taught equality and came to adulthood believing all people deserved our respect. We moved in May this year, and I went through my mother's file cabinet. She wrote letters, asked questions, involved herself in all manner of important issues. I am more proud of her than ever. She's busy conducting protests in the next world, I'm sure. My siblings started having their own children in the 80s. I have nieces and nephews, and now a grand-nephew. For the first next generation, I borrowed an idea from my mother to collect tree ornaments - one each year - for the new babies. Mom did an add-a-pearl necklace for her goddaughter who wore that necklace to her wedding. I did add-an-ornament. I found out fast it was impossible to find any but a white angel. I was already the book aunt, loving books and wanting to share that joy. I bought books with animals, alphabet letters, colors - avoiding the all-white human representation on the cover and in the story. Books with cultural diversity in the 80s and 90s were hard to find. Now we have another generation. And not much has changed. There are ornaments now. But books have hovered in the same dreadful ratio for decades. Diverse books can be found by searching farther and deeper. One book I bought recently is Little Humans by street photographer Brandon Stanton, recommended by a friend. I gift Patricia Polacco books. She writes and illustrates culturally diverse stories (including In Our Mothers' House) and she is a Michigan author/illustrator. She also depicts older people engaging with young people: another missing human contact in mainstream children's books. We need more diverse books written and illustrated by people who have lived the stories. We need to see ourselves in print and picture. Stories are how we identify ourselves, how we understand each other in the beautifully diverse life of the cosmos. And in our homes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Grow the Love Summer

Summer Solstice through my 40s was a party in my backyard. It was a pool party with the Gigantic Pool and No Yard. At my home in my 50s, it was in the Gigantic Yard with No Pool: one year there were 150 who celebrated the longest day. Next year 8. That's life. I switched to a Winter Solstice dinner and those 8 were the women who stayed with me. Summer Solstice this year in my mid-60s found us in a new house, my youngest sister undergoing back surgery, my beloved neighbor falling and now confused in a rehab center, my father wondering if this is actually the end of the repairs in the new house. Here's what's great: Directed by Women, my sister's speedy recovery and my father's adjustment to his new teeth and home, my brother's smile in his new room. It's Grow the Love Summer. I've claimed it as what life is about for decades, and it is this summer. I love movies, talking about, whinging, blogging, watching. Don't let my sister know, but part of being at the hospital at dawn was to sit with her husband and talk about movies. He's a geek. Bigger geek than me, which is going deep into film love. Mention a movie, he can name the composer, the cinematographer, the production designer and location trivia. This summer I'm about directors. Women directors. This piece of art was created to accompany whinges about the lack of women in film in all areas. This summer we'll talk about bounty. DirectedbyWomen has links to 6,815 women directors...and counting. And in September we'll be watching their movies in a global viewing party that begins September 1-15 and will never end. Never. So it's not only the Summer of Love. It's The Endless Summer.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Space Babe

Space Babe roams the galaxy obliterating outdated gender portrayals in speculative fiction. Proceeds from the sale of the temporary tattoos I got in the art room at WisCon39 go to the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. I donated my earnings from the essay published in the WisCon39 program back to Tiptree, too. A squishy goal (gelatin-like because I don't know how to commit well to it) is to have some more scifi finished and in the world by WisCon40. We're in the new condo, and I left for Madison with boxes unpacked and a cluttered mind. Feel upended, like Space Babe here. Without the ray gun or helmet.

Monday, May 11, 2015


10 years 8 months in this house. The longest time I've been at any address. And the place I've most not wanted to be. My father and brother have lived here since 1992. My mother died in this house in 1998. I've struggled with learning about the father who was my mother's husband, and my brother's father. And with me. Saturday my sister-in-law and her daughter helped me with packing. We spent an afternoon in one closet, sorting the picture albums. All the pictures my parents moved from England, Finland and their last house. A long closet, with the top shelf stuffed to the ceiling with pictures covering over 100 years. Six generations. This picture is at one of my marital homes, with a big pool and time with the nieces and nephews and the happy memories. The little girl in the picture is the woman who helped with the pictures. My sister-in-law (who's been 40 years in the family) said "ah, look at this," at most albums, and I said, "take it, or pitch it." She's been my family for most of my adult life, and I love her most for her compassion. My niece took pictures of the cousins and put them on facebook, and held the garbage bags open. I took 20 garbage bags to the curb today, and they were heavy. The photos we ditched were 1) people we didn't know, 2) trips we didn't take, and 3) all my mother's church stuff. Both my wedding albums went in the trash, and they were my albums. Did my mother have a photo album of my weddings? No. Did my mother have any albums of any of our weddings? No. Me, two. John. Paul. David. Susan. No wedding pictures. Were there 10 garbage bags of church trips? Yes. There were photo albums of funerals - my great-grandmother and grandmother in coffins. Bizarre! I remember yelling at my mother at my grandmother's funeral as she snapped away. "What's wrong with you?" My sister-in-law remembered, too. So, all in the trash. 20 bags. I saved the albums of Aunt Suoma and her friends. Carefree, happy, kick-line beach bunny girlfriends in the 1920s in America. And the pictures of my grandmother Saima, strong, how I remembered her. And my niece was interested to hear. She shot meat, skinned it, caught fish, kick-sledded where she needed to go, didn't suffer fools lightly and loved me. Like I love my niece. Fierce. And proud. I saved pictures of my mother for me. Pictures of how I would have liked to know her. Strong. Not the strong that she made up as she went along, but truly strong. There's one picture in the box I saved that I will take to my grave. In this picture, the wind is in her hair. She smiles with the knowledge that she is invincible. That whatever life brings she will conquer. Before I knew her: before. We're moving. It is the last move for my father, who still can't sort out why his mother died when he was 13. It never changed for him. I wonder if women get over it? My brother, who may have lost what sense of the world he had when my grandmother died. He has Alzheimer's disease. And me. Is this my last house? Dad and Scott and me will move from the house where we lost. For a while, I hope it will be the house where we gain.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Evolution of Women and the Revelation of Change

This is a eukaryote: artist's rendering found browsing my art files for this blog post about Women After All: Sex, Evolution and the End of Male Supremacy by Melvin Konner, M.D. He demonstrated how to pronounce it. You-carry-oats. My review on goodreads covers the basic info about how this book came home with me. This is about how glad I am. Dr. Konner steps on many toes covering biology, mating habits, leadership research–major tootsie squishing with the title alone. I loved it, mostly because I felt delighted to be reading. I am a feminist. Too much of the time I'm a discouraged, angry feminist, primarily because there is a lot of rage just in the discussion of what feminism is, who started it, whether 1st, 2nd or 19th wave, how inclusive feminism is regarding race, gender, age – it is daunting. Women After All is an opportunity to feel good. About our brains (bigger), our leadership skills (superior across domains and statistically significant female>male) and our opportunities in the near future. This book changed my body chemistry. I hope I can now bump into a discussion dumped into discord, and know that women's ascendancy will happen no matter if I get mad about it, if I push on it, or if I die tomorrow without seeing the outcome. While some of Dr. Konner's writing is densely academic, much is relieved with comedic reporting. Witness foreplay of the hemaphrodite red-tipped flatworm which lasts up to an hour and involves fencing (yeah, it's called that) with 2 - count 'em two penises each. Object: stab without getting stuck yourself. This behavior could be witnessed at any management meeting in any company anywhere in the USA in the 20th century. Or most episodes of Mad Men. I laughed, which maybe a red-tipped flatworm wouldn't appreciate, but I sure enjoyed the imagery. Flatworms in suits and ties. Snicker. Konner covers brain chemistry, history, the animal world today, and proposes that major change is happening right now, and an upheaval coming within 50 years. I like to think of it as a rebalancing. Weak yang for strong and equal yin:yang. How grand for our daughters, sons, granddaughters, grandsons! Hallelujah!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

PoetryArt Night in Milford Michigan

PoetryArt Night, an annual event during National Poetry Month organized by the Village Fine Arts Association of Milford, Michigan observed its 23rd year last night. The celebration of ekphrasis was begun by Thomas Lynch, poet and Suzanne Haskew, artist; both Milford residents. Our Sweetgrass Writers Group discovered the event several years ago. That year much of the poetry was borrowed from other sources. The art was, and is, original and current. Last night 88 percent of the poetry was original. For the last three years, we have submitted. I hadn't written a poem for over 40 years. My friend Geri is a beautiful poet and has written poetry continuously, quietly. We have all struggled with the idea of putting our writing out in the world. We received ribbons, and still we shy from other venues. Last year Geri and I brought home four poetry awards. We still hesitate to send our words elsewhere, for all the reasons every writer feels in whatever part of the body hesitation lives. Too personal, not good enough, why do it at all? Last night, Geri heard the poetry judge acclaim her poem, and next Saturday, when we pick up our accompanying art pieces, she'll take home a blue ribbon. I read my honoree, Once Upon a Timeless Sea. This year, for the first time, I sent poems to another venue - the spring anthology call for entries from Peninsula Poets. My poem Washing the Sun will be within. As a neophyte submitter, this publication acceptance feels enormous and lovely. I hope I'll be able to overcome those voices of too personal, not good enough and why more in the close future. I'm going to start with a baby/giant step and put the poems on my blog. Deep breath. Here goes.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Win an Inn with Writing

A friend posted on my timeline a photo of this inn and the caption "this has your name written on it." A 200 year old B&B in Maine available for the winning 200 word essay. The owner wants to retire after 22 years. She won the inn in the same way in 1992. The picture alone set me to dreaming big. First facts were fantasy-fulfilling. $125 entry fee, 7,000 entries (which will net the current innkeeper her retirement fund.) Favorable odds. And a beautiful story to share. The adrenalin raced through my system. Picture: writers' retreats. Plein air watercolor groups scattered on the lawn. Lending a hat to a painter who forgot hers. Equinox, solstice gatherings. My canoes back, settled on the lakeshore, eager for leisurely paddling. A barn to put the boats when the snow settles. Snowbound, reading seed catalogs and researching recipes. Chopping wood. A kitchen garden I do not have to abandon each year, planting perennials. My dad, having projects to choose from. Harmon House, with guest rooms becoming where we live. White Mountains. And so near, Hermit's Island where I fell in love with windy, rocky coasts and Maine at 16. I dreamed in color, seeing satisfied guests, worthy work, a beautiful setting. I had 24 hours of manifesting the vision. Then my Capricorn side stirred. Taxes, grass cutting, insurance, maintenance, isolation, laundry, dishes, cooking, coordinating healthcare for my brother, uprooting my 88 year old father away from local family. Hard work I can do, assuring contented guests I can do. Soothing disgruntled demanding people I can do. But I'm a senior citizen. Maybe the current owner who wants to retire is my age. It's a conundrum. My friends say go for it. My niece counseled perhaps there's another dream I can pursue. The deadline is May 7. I have a little while to discover which road I'll take. Is it worth $125 to stick a toe in a dream? Today I think yes. Tomorrow I may dare a different dream.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tie-Dyed Eggs

That's what the box read. Couldn't resist bringing it home, even though I had coloring already. In practice, this was more plastic bag squished color dying, but that sensibly didn't pass marketing department muster. I set up the regular tablet cups as my brother and I have a tradition of dyeing Easter eggs. Scott said "forget it" when I asked if he wanted to color eggs. It was an answer. He made a choice, which is unusual and great, and I didn't take it personally, which is something.  I asked my father if he wanted to try the other method. He did. It was a wonderful experiment. He got to use his engineering skills to figure out how to use the blasted droppers, and I got to watch him engaged in a project. We both finished with hands the color of these eggs. We tried to wash it off. I was cutting radishes for potato salad, and the white flesh was taking on the blue, red, green of the dye. Next time, my Dad counseled, we use gloves.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Technology Woe

Who's running this show? The photo demonstrates how I have to deal with art. Center stage is the new iMac, which I am still trying to develop a relationship with. The laptop was the transition purchase I had to make in order to use the software (ancient) I already had. It runs Snow Leopard, which graphic designers hold onto for dear commercial life as Apple abandoned supporting a bunch of stuff after that cat. To the right is my brain in a jar - what was retrieved from the G5 that crashed permanently after 10 years. The arrow points to the least nimble of the 4. Me. The worst time to discover it was a good idea to keep up with technology as you go along is when it's too damn late to do anything but start over. Or operate with this mess of machines and wires and software that will not play nice with others. What isn't in the picture is the camera I was downloading pictures from - it too is ancient, and won't work with the new iMac, and when I force the issue by hand-downloading jpgs, the new iPhoto claims it has already downloaded the pictures (NOT) and that it cannot repair NO NAME. And the new scanner/printer/toaster combo I bought has a lousy scanner. Here's the list of tech I need: camera, scanner, photo editing and art creation software. Adobe stopped discounting a newer purchase of Creative Suite 3 versions ago. You can buy access to The Cloud for $29.99 if you have a license for CS3, but only one program of the entire offering. I can access all the products of the renamed Creative Cloud for $49.99 a month, which is more than my phone. Is it worth more than my phone? Probably. But I hate the idea of paying for access to a thing forever. That's a terrific scifi story concept. In future, we all have to have a subscription to our lives. Pay or lose access. Sure would handle population control. But in order to write the story I have to use Open Office because I am not paying for access to Microsoft Word forever. And forever isn't forever in technology. Forever is until the prices go up next year.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Aging Brain Workaround

Cancelled the website I tried to set up yesterday. I could not negotiate the instructions. I had a website with MacHighway (itsamac in 1998), and had to let it go when I no longer had current software needed to update the site, 5 or 6 years ago or more. Then a user could still reach one of the founders on the phone. Today, it's chat tech support. One issue is the knowledge base requires a fore-knowledge I don't have (cpanel is what? –your portal to edit the site, and it's a separate login) and the bigger issue is my brain. I'm so upset by this. I had an immediate empathetic reaction to my father's frustration which may be the source of his rage. So we talked about it. We commiserated. He said he's been trying to come up with the word for not being able to pay a mortgage for 2 days. And he cannot keep in his head the name of the town my sister lives in. Talking about it made us both feel better. I made a joke - foreclosure and Fraser (the town my sister lives in) both start with F, so perhaps his brain has offloaded that letter. Foreclosure is not in either of our futures, so that word can disappear. More good news: my sister is moving so that town name won't be needed. I don't need a website, so I don't need to fret about my lessened ability to make one work. As our brains are less nimble, we need to ratchet up the rationalization. Or take more yoga classes. Or be more Zen. And gently accept what we cannot change, knowing we're in good company.

Monday, March 16, 2015

So Big a Concept

A human mind isn't wired well to contemplate infinity. Toss in our culture's aversion to talking about death, and it's a brain twister. Flavor with a pinch of our distance from nature. Fold in ego. Ruminate at room temperature for an hour or a month. And voila! Headache. And unease. And writer's block. Neytiri says all energy is borrowed and must be returned one day. Feels reasonable and comforting. Neytiri is a 9-feet tall blue Pandoran, who may be a good guru, but I feel a little bizarre taking philosophical cues from a fictional character.  No. I don't. Not really. I believe the way the Na'vi do. 3 paintings are done and framed for the VFAA PAN night. All are images of water. I feel close to water always. PAN is Poetry&Art night, so all original poems must be accompanied by original art, and vice versa. Previous years, I wrote the poems, and slapped together the art to go with. This year I have the experience of watercolor classes, and an affinity for the form. So I have art finished. No poems. Feels inside out, but okay. Except I can't write the poems.  Submissions are due March 21. I'm not ready! One painting is whitewater and my intent is to poetize an analogy of watercolor and fast water. Another painting is an idyllic scene that I had the joy of seeing after an arduous and terrifying climb up a narrow path on the side of a cliff. Not sure where the metaphor is here, but it's certainly about life and being open to challenges. The third painting is the sea. I repainted this painting, trying to use words in the waves to depict what I believe - that the sea contains all stories through all time. It looked unnatural and artificially represented Stories of Earth, and the people who walk on Her. Endless and ever changing. I feel in my right brain that this is true - that death is frightening only when you think the story is about you. Meanwhile I started yoga (oy! I had no idea I'd gotten this... rigid and weak!) and perhaps that will get the contemplation circulation flowing again.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Write Art Life Art Write

This year for the Village Fine Arts Association Poetry&Art Night I will be submitting 3 paintings. For the last two years I've submitted 6 poems, and won 4 awards. I told my therapist who gave me a card to join a writing group a few years before I entered PAN "I'm not a writer." And one step out of the first gathering, I wrote an article that was published. I  told an art friend years ago, "I can't do watercolor-it scares me." And here I am, creating the best art I've ever done. Medium. Where your art lives you live. Poetry & Art Night in Milford, Michigan was started by Thomas Lynch and Suzanne Haskew. The art and writing scene I have been blooming blessed to drop into is in Milford, Michigan. If you are unfamiliar with Thomas Lynch's work, get familiar now. This minute I figured out how the universe works. I have goosebumps. My birthday is coming up, I'll be entering my 65th rotation around the galaxy, and by golly, I just this minute figured it out. I couldn't go to my first watercolor class with Jeane DeHann, because Dad went into the hospital with congestive heart failure. She is an artist I admire. And Barbara Weisenburg, a gracious member of the VFAA, and an artist who created two paintings I own, called to offer some alternatives. She miraculously offered to teach me what I would have learned from the class. Miracle. Stuff turned into rich soil, into growth into harvest. We struggle each day with stuff. Our stuff recently is Dad's fall on Feb. 2, working to get physical therapy in the house, my brother with Alzheimer's being freaked by the new stuff, me wondering if I can do all this without combusting, and damn. Here it is. Dad is here in the senior complex because that's what my parents chose. I'm here to give my brother a good quality of life. And subsequently understand that parents don't have a clue with kids, no matter what age, and forgive and forget, and learn to love in a different way. That fear of dying is stupid and wasteful when we can carry each other over. And that's what Thomas Lynch does and Suzanne Haskew did with their lives and their work. In art and writing. Carry each other over. And wasn't this always there? Except for the awareness. Rosemary Jozwiak told me 10 years ago "all you're missing is faith in a good outcome."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Art Therapy for Caregivers

My watercolor instruction is therapy. I figured that out this week when we were covered in 14 inches of snow, and Monday class was canceled. Creativity immersion is a way to dispense with thought processes and emotions attached to random brain access, and be free. Started 2 paintings, messed both up pretty badly but I saved the paper to use the other side. Dad fell on Sunday, hurt his knee and we're dealing with the aftermath of that. I am not doing well with this. He says he's not a good patient-I think I'm not a nurse. I am trained after long practice to be constantly vigilant, which is exhausting. He sat down on the top step last night going to bed, and couldn't get up. I heard him sighing and since this sounds a lot like the precursor to congestive heart failure, I investigated. An hour and a half of trying to get him in bed. None of my suggestions were any good. Perhaps he had a mini-stroke and his brain wasn't functioning well. Scott, who had to step around his father on the floor to come out of the bathroom, was freaking out, repeating "It's OK" over and over again - trying to calm himself, I think. I'd suggest a method to Dad: he'd want me to do something physical- lift him, put my feet in front of his so he could push off my body. I ended up walking down to the neighbor and asking him to help me. Today we'll have to make plans, none of which include continuing in this untenable situation. The stairs are not an option any more. Meanwhile, I'll hope to continue to find peace in watercolor.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Artcraft Station

Clutter creep was getting in the way of my new watercolor obsession. I have a large board for 16x20 painting (with an amen to my therapist who asked "when are you going to work bigger?) and I had negative space to play in. What started as organizing the clutter into different clumps became a day-1/2 of doing a good job. Confession: I actually binned some books. For a reader who learned early not to bend corners or deface books I thought it'd be tougher. Threw away my father's massive collection of cords to unknown unowned tech. Relocated the ancient useless tools on the pegboard up and out of the way and moved my tools down and handy. When I was done tossing and stacking, I put stuff back saying out loud "related to jewelry, related to painting, related to tools, related to cleaning, related to bath." I bought online (!) a drafting stool. On the cement floor are two of my grandmother's handmade rugs which have been gathering dust in plastic bags under my bed. My grandmother and my mother are with me in this space - the Greenbrier bag I carry my watercolor supplies to class in was mom's. When I finished painting the particleboard surface, I remembered a piece of glass mom had made to fit her dining table. When the antique went away, the glass remained propped against a closet wall. It fits the work area perfectly. And wipes up with water! A little bit of heaven in the Artist's Dungeon. Maybe I need to start calling it the Artist's Retreat.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


At Crazy Wisdom Bookstore this afternoon, we will be talking and sharing stories about aging. I called this get-together Coming Down the Mountain with Grace. It's a phrase I liked from a philosophy bath product my sister got me years ago that had on its label how you come down the mountain is just as important as how you go up. This morning I've been thinking about the skills we need to go up the mountain. Agility, physical strength, tenacity, attention, care, planning. So do we need these to come down the mountain. Maybe we're missing the physical strength of youth, but we're wilier, better at navigating, and we know to duck and weave. The downhill slope is faster, and there are those pesky obstacles that remain from the ascent. The ascent is how we learn. The descent is how we apply the knowledge.